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Man With AK-47 Arrested Outside Masih Alinejad's Home

August 1, 2022
3 min read
The Iranian women's rights activist was also the target of a Ministry of Intelligence-backed kidnapping plot foiled by the FBI last July
The Iranian women's rights activist was also the target of a Ministry of Intelligence-backed kidnapping plot foiled by the FBI last July

A man with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle was arrested outside the home of well-known Iranian human rights activist Masih Alinejad in Brooklyn, New York.

Khalid Mehdiyev, 23, is a professional judoka from Azerbaijan. Authorities in the city believe he was acting at the behest of the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the Ministry of Intelligence has previously sponsored a plot to kidnap Alinejad and bring her back to Iran via Venezuela.

Mehdiyev was observed by law enforcement “behaving suspiciously” outside Alinejad’s home over two days last week, peering into the windows, trying to open the front door and sitting outside her home in a Subaru Forester SUV for several hours on end.

Last Thursday afternoon he was stopped by New York City police officers after failing to obey a stop sign. Police established he was driving with a suspended license and on searching the rear of the car, found a suitcase containing an AK-47.

The rifle had a full chamber, a second magazine and 66 additional rounds of ammunition. The serial number was destroyed but markings showed it was made by Norinco, a Chinese state-owned weapons manufacturer.

Masih Alinejad is a well-known figure in Iran, a vocal opponent of the repressive policies of the Islamic Republic and a staunch advocate for the rights of political prisoners.

She founded the “White Wednesdays” and “My Stealthy Freedom” campaigns, which pushed back against forced hijab in Iran, and more recently popularized the hashtag #LetUsTalk, in which Iranian women describe their experiences of living in a misogynist theocracy.

The latest incident also comes in the wake of a fresh crackdown on women’s civic freedoms in Iran. Like other women’s rights activists, Alinejad had supported a grassroots “No Hijab Day” organized in response to the drive on July 13.

In a post on Twitter on Sunday, Alinejad shared CCTV footage of Mehdiyev pacing back and forth on her porch holding a cellphone. “These are the scary scenes capturing a man who tried to enter my house in New York with a loaded gun to kill me,” she wrote.

“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.”

Twelve months ago four Iranians arrested in the US, the UK and Canada were indicted by a federal court in Manhattan for alleged involvement in a Tehran-backed scheme to abduct Alinejad. The FBI said they were acting on behalf of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.

The Islamic Republic is one of the world’s most prolific sponsors of transnational repression: the practice of surveilling, harassing forcibly silencing Iranian nationals overseas who are perceived as opponents of the state.

Scores of regime critics, dissidents, journalists and activists have been the subject of threats, intimidation, and attempted or actual kidnapping and murder attributed to the Iranian government since 1979.

The complaint filed against Mr. Mehdiyev by the FBI said inside the suitcase in his car, police also found $1,100 in $100 bills and two license plates from other states with different numbers.

Mehdiyev told Brooklyn police he was in the area looking for a new apartment and wanted to ask if Alinejad would rent him a room. He also claimed the suitcase was not his, but later backtracked and said the AK-47 did belong to him and he was out "looking for someone". He declined to speak further without a lawyer.


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