Two men sanctioned for plotting to kill Iranian journalists in Chiswick

Image above: Sima Sabet and Fardad Farahzad alleged targets in the ‘Wedding Plot’

Two people accused of plotting to attack journalists at Chiswick Business Park among seven sanctioned by US & UK over threats to national security 

The UK and US governments have sanctioned seven Iranian officials, including two accused of orchestrating a plan to target two journalists at Chiswick Business Park. Mohammed Ansari, affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – Qods Force, and Muhammed Abd al-Razek Kanafani have been identified as key figures in the alleged plot.

The scheme, dubbed the ‘Wedding Plot’, aimed to harm two employees of Iran International, a Saudi-funded TV station. According to an ITV News investigation led by Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo, Ansari and Kanafani were implicated in coordinating threats against the journalists. Evidence including video recordings and text messages exchanged between the two shed light on the plot during the autumn of 2022.

‘Ismail’, a former people smuggler with ties to the IRGC, disclosed details of the plan to Western intelligence agencies. Kanafani, linked to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, reportedly initiated the orders, indicating ties to Unit 840, a clandestine group within the IRGC responsible for targeted attacks on Iranian dissidents and regime critics abroad.

Originally intending to deploy a car bomb at Chiswick Business Park, the perpetrators adapted their plan due to heightened security measures. Instead, they aimed to carry out knife attacks outside the journalists’ homes. But thanks to a timely intervention by security services, based on intelligence provided by ‘Ismail’, measures were put in place to safeguard the journalists.

The Foreign Office denounced the Chiswick plot as part of a broader pattern of Iranian aggression targeting British nationals and UK-affiliated individuals. At least 15 such threats have been recorded since January 2022.

The UK’s response includes asset freezes and travel bans on the seven sanctioned individuals, adding to over 400 existing sanctions imposed on Iranian entities and individuals in response to human rights violations, nuclear proliferation, and global destabilisation efforts.

Iran poses “unacceptable threat” to UK security

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said:

“The Iranian regime and the criminal gangs who operate on its behalf pose an unacceptable threat to the UK’s security.

“Today’s package exposes the roles of the Iranian officials and gangs involved in activity aimed to undermine, silence and disrupt the democratic freedoms we value in the UK.”

Home Secretary James Cleverly said:

“The Iranian regime has tried to undermine our democracy through repression – we will continue to take action when necessary to protect our country, values and freedom of speech.

“We cannot allow foreign regimes to collaborate with criminals to threaten us. Sanctioning these criminal networks working for the Iranian regime will remind them that we will fight back.

“My priority is to protect our people and to defend our way of life, and the UK will not tolerate threats from the Iranian regime.”