HomeAttacks on U.S.Silencing Voices: How China and Iran Hunt Dissidents on U.S. Soil

Silencing Voices: How China and Iran Hunt Dissidents on U.S. Soil

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In an alarming manifestation of geopolitical tensions, Iran and China have been systematically hunting dissidents within the United States, starkly violating international laws and the sovereignty of nations. These actions, carried out with brazen audacity, highlight the dark underbelly of authoritarian regimes that extend their repressive reach across continents to silence dissent.

The Chinese government, infamous for its relentless pursuit of control, operates under a covert initiative known as “Operation Fox Hunt.” This operation targets Chinese expatriates globally, coercing them under threats of violence to return to China, where dubious charges and prison sentences await them. An unsettling example of this occurred in New Jersey, where a former city government official found a chilling note in Chinese characters taped to his front door, menacingly stating: “If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison your wife and children will be all right. That’s the end of this matter!” This note epitomizes the ruthless tactics employed by the Chinese government to enforce compliance.

Meanwhile, Iran’s methods are equally sinister, if not more direct in their brutality. The Iranian regime has extended its nefarious activities to the U.S., targeting dissidents like Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist exiled in Brooklyn. Alinejad, known for her outspoken criticism of Iran’s human rights abuses, found herself in the crosshairs of a murder-for-hire plot orchestrated by Tehran. This sinister plot involved members of an Eastern European organized crime gang who scouted her home and made detailed plans for her assassination. Alinejad’s own words capture the chilling reality of her situation: “We’re not living in fear, we’re not living in paranoia, but the reality is very clear — that the Islamic Republic wants us dead, and we have to look over our shoulder every day.”

The U.S. Justice Department and FBI have been actively thwarting these plots, highlighting a disturbing trend in transnational repression that has escalated to direct threats against individuals on American soil. Senior FBI officials have noted an increase in the sophistication of these threats, involving proxies like private investigators and organized crime figures to carry out harassment and attacks. These foreign operatives engage in activities that dramatically cross from mere surveillance into the realm of potential violence, displaying a flagrant disregard for the boundaries and laws of the U.S.

Moreover, these plots are not isolated incidents but part of a broader strategy by authoritarian regimes to project power beyond their borders and stifle any form of dissent. Such actions on U.S. soil not only infringe upon the rights of individuals but also blatantly challenge U.S. sovereignty. This unsettling reality has prompted U.S. law enforcement to respond vigorously, with Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen emphasizing the government’s commitment to defending American values: “This is a huge priority for us,” Olsen stated, underlining an “alarming rise” in government-directed harassment aimed at upholding the principles of “free expression and free association.”

The narratives of those targeted by these operations are harrowing. Bob Fu, a Chinese American pastor, has endured extensive harassment, including mass demonstrations outside his home and sinister threats. His ordeal is a testament to the persistent dangers faced by those who dare to challenge authoritarian regimes. Fu’s life in the U.S. has been overshadowed by the constant need for vigilance, an ironic contradiction to the freedom he sought when fleeing China over two decades ago.

As these authoritarian regimes continue to extend their oppressive tactics globally, the international community must recognize the urgency of addressing transnational repression. These are attacks on America, Americans have the right to freedom and the right not to be persecuted by foreign governments. The danger of a free and open society is that bad actors can take advantage. Unfortunately it is more difficult for open societies to do the same in authoritarian, oppressive societies like China and Iran.

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