3 men arrested after trying to kidnap Iranian-American journalist

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Three men have been charged with money laundering and murder-for-hire, the DOJ said. The target, Masih Alinejad, told The Associated Press that the FBI read him the messages exchanged by the men. The indictment did not specify whether the Iranian regime was directly involved in ordering the killings. Something is loading.

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The Justice Department on Friday announced charges against three men who authorities say are part of an Eastern European criminal organization that planned to assassinate an Iranian author and activist living in exile in New York.

Rafat Amirov, 43, from Iran; Polad Omarov, 38, from the Czech Republic and Slovenia; and Khalid Mehdiyev, 24, of Yonkers, New York; were charged with money laundering and murder-for-hire, the DOJ said in a statement.

While the DOJ did not reveal the identity of the activist, Masih Alinejad confirmed on Twitter that she was the target.

—Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) January 27, 2023

“Yes, this is the face of a person who was the target of an assassination plot,” Alinejad said. “Let me be clear, I’m not scared for my life because I knew that killing, murdering, hanging, torturing, raping is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic.”

Alinejad told The Associated Press that the FBI read him the messages exchanged by the men,

“I’m not afraid,” Alinejad told the . “I want to tell you that the Iranian regime thinks that by trying to kill me they will silence me, or silence other women. But they only strengthen me, make me more powerful to fight for democracy and give voice to brave women who face guns and bullets in the streets to get rid of the Islamic Republic.”

While the man behind the plot is in Iran, the DOJ indictment did not specify whether the Iranian government was behind the plot.

“The victim in this case was targeted for exercising the rights to which every U.S. citizen is entitled. The victim publicized human rights abuses by the Iranian government; discriminatory treatment of women; suppression of participation and democratic expression; and the use of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and execution,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

According to the DOJ, the criminal organization has been tasked with the assassination of Alinejad, who has previously been the target of “conspiracies by the Iranian government to intimidate, harass and kidnap her”. The attempted murder-for-hire plan had been active since at least July 2022.

The attempt was part of ongoing plots and threats against the Brooklyn-based journalist and author. In July 2021, the DOJ indicted four Iranian intelligence officials in an attempted kidnapping of Alinejad.

“Today’s indictment exposes a dangerous threat to national security – a dual threat posed by a vicious transnational criminal group operating out of what it believed to be the haven of a rogue country: l ‘Iran,” US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement. “As national security and criminal threats continue to intertwine, the Justice Department will use all of its tools to zealously protect freedom and hold accountable anyone who uses violence to undermine it.”

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