Federal prosecutors announced charges Tuesday against four Iranians for allegedly plotting to abduct journalist Masih Alinejad, who was residing in Brooklyn, New York.
Alinejad is a U.S. citizen, prominent human rights activist and critic of the Iranian regime.
“The Islamic Regime is scared of me … This regime attempted to send agents to Brooklyn to spy on my life,” she said in a video posted to Twitter.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney announces kidnapping conspiracy charges against an Iranian intelligence officer and members of an Iranian intelligence network https://t.co/26n3II71Zz@FBI @NewYorkFBI pic.twitter.com/mfYYhHffYm
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) July 13, 2021
FBI agents reportedly approached Alinejad eight months ago to warn her of an ongoing kidnapping plot by Iran and also managed to relocate her and her spouse as they conduct the investigation.
“As alleged, four of the defendants monitored and planned to kidnap a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin who has been critical of the regime’s autocracy, and to forcibly take their intended victim to Iran, where the victim’s fate would have been uncertain at best,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) wrote in a press release. “Among this country’s most cherished freedoms is the right to speak one’s mind without fear of government reprisal. A U.S. citizen living in the United States must be able to advocate for human rights without being targeted by foreign intelligence operatives.”
I am grateful to FBI for foiling the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s plot to kidnap me. This plot was orchestrated under Rouhani.
This is the regime that kidnapped & executed Ruhollah Zam. They’ve also kidnapped and jailed Jamshid Sharmahd and many others pic.twitter.com/HUefdEbiil
— Masih Alinejad (@AlinejadMasih) July 14, 2021
The indicted Iranian nationals, all of whom still remain at large and likely in Iran, contracted private investigators in Manhattan to surveil Alinejad and her family, falsely claiming that the journalist was a “missing person from Dubai” to avoid debt payment obligations.
Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi, Omid Noori, and Alireza Farahani, the four charged by the DOJ, were allegedly identified as having ties to Iranian intelligence services. A fifth individual, Niloufar Bahadorifar, was arrested in California on accusations of financing the plot. The operatives reportedly obtained information on Alinejad’s family, license plate, home address, and street view, while also researching ways to smuggle the would-be victim to Iran through Venezuela by sea, according to The New York Times.
Masih Alinejad had been publicly threatened by the Iranian regime before, as she has been vocal in her criticism against Iran’s forced hijab laws on women among other human rights issues in the country. (RELATED: Women’s March Still Silent On Iranian Protests)
More women from inside Iran making videos against #ForcedHijab & risking jail by saying No to Islamic Republic.
This is a development not seen by Western media. While the west is trying to shake hand with the regime, Iranian people risk everything to reject whole regime. #No2IR pic.twitter.com/z42xRs7CK6
— Masih Alinejad (@AlinejadMasih) March 13, 2021
The Iranian Regime has been able to silence critics outside of its borders by kidnapping and killing exiled journalists residing in the West. Ruhollah Zam was lured from his new hometown in Paris to Iraq, where he was taken away to Iran to be imprisoned and executed for his online work during the 2017 protests in Iran. (RELATED: Journalist Executed For Allegedly Inspiring Nationwide Economic Protests In Iran)
The regime often tried to lure journalists to a third country through their relatives, which also happened to Alinejad when she was promised to meet her family in Turkey, according to Reuters. Fortunately, the FBI was able to warn her to not leave the U.S. for her own safety.
“I wish someone had told Ruhollah Zam that he didn’t have permission (for safety) to leave for Iraq,” laments Masih Alinejad.