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FBI arrests man with military-style rifle near home of leading Iranian dissident journalist

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The FBI Wants To Know Why A Man Was… near the home of a well-known Iranian journalist and author in New York City while allegedly in possession of an illegal military-style rifle loaded with 30 cartridges.

The agency is investigating whether the suspect, who is federally charged with possessing a firearm with no visible serial number, was present as part of a possible plot to neutralize or kill Masih Alinejad, two law enforcement sources said.

Iranian intelligence unsuccessfully hatched a plan last year to kidnap the host of the Voice of America Persian Service, the FBI said.

Alinejad said at the time that she thought the government wanted to mute her voice on social media.

Iran’s Muslim rulers “not only wanted to make sure that I physically no longer existed, they also wanted to destroy my Instagram, Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp channels,” she said in a video message. distributed by VOA.

Iran has denied the 2021 allegation, calling it “baseless”.

Sunday afternoon the journalist tweeted security video showing a tall man on her porch trying to open a door. Alinejad said this is the suspect who was arrested and charged with gun violation, and that he had come to her home in Brooklyn to kill her.

“My crime is to give voiceless people a voice,” she tweeted.

Khalid Mehdiyev of Yonkers, New York, was arrested Thursday near the woman’s home by New York City police for allegedly driving with a suspended license, according to the affidavit filed Friday along with a criminal complaint.

Police initially stopped him because he allegedly drove past a stop sign without stopping completely, the document says. He was held without bond.

In any case, FBI agents had been monitoring the man the previous day and appeared to confirm Alinejad’s claim that he had been on her porch and “tried to open the front door,” FBI Agent Derek Kasse wrote in the affidavit.

The court document also alleges that the vehicle Mehdiyev used was given a parking ticket near the journalist’s home on July 23.

Thursday, after that traffic stop, police said they found a Chinese-made AK 47 clone in a trunk in the back of the vehicle, where they also found 66 ammunition, most of them in two magazines, one of which was attached to the rifle, it claimed. the FBI.

The affidavit adds that $1,100 in cash was in the briefcase with the gun. The Mehdiyev-driven Subaru Forrester had license plates from Illinois and inside license plates from two other states, the FBI claims.

In an interview with officers after his arrest, Mehdiyev said he had borrowed the vehicle and that the briefcase, weapon and ammunition did not belong to him, according to the affidavit.

But he changed course in a subsequent interview, saying the gun was his and then asking for a lawyer, Kasse wrote.

It is not clear whether Mehdiyev has retained his legal counsel. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alinejad has criticized Iran’s leadership, in particular for its track record on women’s rights and human rights.

“Last year the Islamic Republic tried to kidnap me, now they want to kill me,” Alinejad tweeted on Sunday.

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed Mehdiyev’s arrest, but the agency declined to comment further.

Dennis Romero contributed.


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