Three men accused of planning the assassination of Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad have been arrested

File photo: Journalist and activist Masih Alinejad at the World Economic Forum (REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann) (ARND WIEGMANN/)

The US Department of Justice announced Friday the arrest of three men who allegedly participated in a Tehran-backed plot to assassinate Iranian dissident journalist Masih Alinejad.

The three were members of a group Eastern European organized crime with ties to IranUS Attorney General Merrick Garland said at a press conference.

The announcement of the three arrests and indictment on attempted murder charges comes six months after one of the men, Khalid Mehdievwas arrested in front of Alinejad’s New York home with an assault rifle AK-47 loaded.

Mehdiyev, arrested on July 29, had been tasked with the task by two gang leaders, Rafat Amirov and Polad Omarovaccording to Garland.

Amirov was detained in the United States on Thursday and Omarov was arrested earlier this month in the Czech Republic and is now in US custody.

Garland said the charges brought against him “stem out of an ongoing investigation into the Attempts by the government of Iran to assassinate on US soil a journalist, author, and human rights activist who is a US citizen of Iranian origin.”

The attorney general did not directly name Alinejad but made it clear it was her, referring to an earlier attempt in 2021 by Iranian agents to kidnap the 45-year-old activist and bring her back to Iran.

“The government of Iran has continued to attack the victim ever since,” Garland said.

File photo: Alinejad shows an FBI patrol guarding outside her apartment on July 14, 2021 (REUTERS)
File photo: Alinejad shows an FBI patrol guarding outside her apartment on July 14, 2021 (REUTERS) (Social Media /)

According to the indictment, Amirov is a leader of an unidentified criminal gang and lives in Iran. He ordered Omarov to undertake the operation, and Omarov instructed Mehdiyev to carry it out.

“After receiving the directive from Amirov, Omarov sent Mehdiyev photographs of the victim and the victim’s houseas well as the address of the victim,” Garland said.

Garland did not detail any ties between Amirov and the Iranian government, stressing that the case is still under investigation.

“As we have also noted in a previous indictment, Iran had been attempting to assassinate this victim. That is all we can say at this time,” she said.

Alinejad, born in Iran and a US citizen, is known for her Criticism of Iran’s clerical regime, including the requirement that women wear headscarves. She founded the My Stealthy Freedom movement, which encourages women to remove their hijab.

In a tweet on Friday, Alinejad wrote: “Just learned that the three men hired by the Iranian regime to kill me on American soil have been indicted.”

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard has been carrying out these terrorist operations for four decades,” he said, referring to the ideological army of the Iranian Islamic republic.

(With information from AFP)

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