By David Ben Hooren
New York police arrested an armed man Friday near the home of an Iranian dissident journalist who had been the previous target of an Iranian kidnapping plot.
Although the court papers did not name Masih Alinejad as Khalid Mehdiyev’s intended victim, the journalist herself tweeted a video of the suspect on her front porch that was captured by her Ring doorbell app.
“These are the scary scenes capturing a man who tried to enter my house in New York with a loaded gun to kill me,” Alinejad posted just after midnight Sunday. ”Last year the FBI stopped the Islamic Republic from kidnapping me. My crime is giving voice to voiceless people. The US administration must be tough on terror.”
According to court documents, the police had observed the 23-year-old Mehdiyev sitting in a car for hours on both Wednesday and Thursday next to a “Brooklyn residence.” The Federal complaint said he tried to look through the home’s windows and tried opening the front door as well, which the video backs up.
When Mehdiyev negligently went through a stop sign nearby, the police pulled him over. They found that he was driving without a license and arrested him. Then they searched the car – and on the back seat, they found a suitcase with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle, several magazines’ worth of bullets, and a thousand dollars in cash. There were also two other license plates besides the Illinois ones the car was already displaying.
According to the court documents, he at first he tried pleading ignorance about the items, saying that he had only borrowed the car, and made up a story about trying the door because he wanted to ask the owner if he could rent a room.
In addition, before any mention was made of the weapon, he stated that he didn’t know anything about a gun. Later, however, he admitted that the rifle was his and that he was in the neighborhood because “he was looking for someone.”
Last July, an Iranian intelligence officer and three alleged members of an Iranian intelligence network were charged with plotting to kidnap several people as well as the prominent women’s rights activist, and take them to Tehran so they could be punished for speaking out against the regime.
Alinejad struck a defiant note at the time, telling the Associated Press, “I have only one life and I’m not going to live in paranoia. I’m not going to live in fear. I have two options — feel miserable, make my oppressors feel miserable, so I choose the second one.”
Alinejad fled Iran in 2009 after writing many critical pieces against the mullahs. She has worked for Voice of America’s Farsi-language network since 2015, and became a U.S. citizen in 2019. She has also won several awards for her human rights work.
Alinejad told The New York Times Sunday that she and her family have now moved to a safe location.