China and Iran are targeting people on U.S. soil whom they consider threats to their regimes, according to Biden administration officials.
The authoritarian regimes of both nations will likely continue to grow more aggressive and take hostile actions against Americans and foreigners on U.S. soil, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said.
“[China] and Iran likely will remain the most aggressive actors within the United States,” Mr. Mayorkas said in prepared testimony at a Nov. 15 hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“[These] adversaries have targeted individuals in the United States whom they perceive as threats to their regimes, including ethnic and religious minorities, political dissidents, and journalists.”
He said that “agents of these regimes” had engaged in physical assaults, threats, harassment, defamation, forced disappearances, and even assassination attempts on individuals residing in the United States.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, who also testified at the hearing, said Iran had hired would-be assassins to murder senior government officials.
“Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, has directly or by hiring criminals mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former U.S. officials, including right here on American soil,” Mr. Wray said in his prepared testimony.
“Nations such as [China], Russia, and Iran are becoming more aggressive and more capable than ever before.”
In August 2022, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged an Iranian national in a murder-for-hire plot to kill John Bolton, who once served as national security adviser to President Donald Trump. The DOJ said the man was paid $300,000 to carry out the hit on Mr. Bolton and was offered $1 million for another, undisclosed target.
Likewise, Mr. Mayorkas noted that residents in the United States acting as illegal agents of the Chinese Communist Party had attempted to forcibly repatriate the regime’s detractors to China.
The intelligence and national security communities, he said, anticipated that such efforts would continue to grow in the coming years.
2,000 Investigations Into China-Linked CrimeMr. Wray described the authoritarian governments of China, Iran, and Russia as posing a persistent and pervasive national security threat. China’s communist regime, in particular, he said, was working nonstop to undermine U.S. national security and exploit the nation’s weaknesses.
“These criminals and nation-states believe that they can compromise our networks, steal our property, extort us, and hold our critical infrastructure at risk without incurring any risk to themselves,” Mr Wray said.
“Together, they pose a continuous threat to U.S. national security and our economy by targeting strategic technologies, industries, sectors, and critical infrastructure.”
To that end, Mr. Wray said the FBI is currently engaged in more than 2,000 investigations across every field office into China-linked criminal activity in the United States.
Likewise, Mr. Mayorkas said that the rise of new technologies such as generative artificial intelligence will likely enhance the regime’s efforts to interfere in the United States’ internal affairs.
“The proliferation and accessibility of emergent cyber and artificial intelligence (AI) tools will likely help these actors bolster their malign information campaigns by enabling the creation of higher quality low-cost, synthetic text, image, and audio-based content,” Mr. Mayorkas said.
“These nations seek to undermine our core democratic, economic, and scientific institutions, and they employ a growing range of tactics.”