Three men have been arrested for a plot to assassinate a U.S. citizen who was critical of the Iranian government, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday.
Twenty-four-year-old Khalid Mehdiyev, a resident of New York, was detained in July with an AK-47-style rifle in Brooklyn as he was preparing to carry out the attack, according to the unsealed indictment. Mehdiyev was allegedly plotting to murder exiled Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad with the help of two other men on behalf of unidentified actors in Iran.
Alinejad had previously identified herself as the target of a kidnapping plot by the Iranian regime in 2021.
I just learned from 12 FBI agents that the 3 men hired by the Iranian regime to kill me on US soil have been indicted. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards have been conducting these terrorist operations for four decades.
Islamic Republic is ISIS with oil. #WomanLifeFreedom pic.twitter.com/T9Hbp0iwG3
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 27, 2023
The 2022 attack was coordinated from Iran by Rafat Amirov, according to authorities. The 43-year-old was taken into custody and arraigned in a Manhattan court Friday.
The third man charged was Polad Omarov, who lives in the Czech Republic and Slovenia. The three men are associated with the “Thieves-in-Law,” an Eastern European organized crime syndicate with ties to the Iranian regime, authorities said.
“The law enforcement action today is the latest U.S. disruption of plotting activities against this victim and other Americans,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “It follows a disturbing pattern of Iranian Government-sponsored efforts to kill, torture, and intimidate into silence activists for speaking out for the fundamental rights and freedoms of Iranians around the world.”
“The Victim publicized the Iranian Government’s human rights abuses; discriminatory treatment of women; suppression of democratic participation and expression; and use of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and execution,” Garland said. “We will not tolerate attempts by a foreign power to threaten, silence, or harm Americans. We will stop at nothing to identify, find, and bring to justice those who endanger the safety of the American people.”
The trio are each being charged with murder-for-hire, conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Mehdiyev was sent $30,000 from the other two men and then proceeded to purchase the rifle, at least 66 rounds of ammunition and two magazines, according to the court documents. (RELATED: Iranian Journalist Says Ilhan Omar Helped Smear Her After She Criticized Soleimani)
Mehdiyev is set to be arraigned Tuesday, while authorities are seeking the extradition of Omarov from the Czech Republic.