On Thursday, July 28, a man allegedly armed with an AK-47 rifle was arrested outside the home of Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-American journalist based in New York.
Fox News reported that authorities recovered the assault rifle from 23-year-old Khalid Mehdiyev, who was initially pulled over in his car by the police for ignoring a stop sign.
Authorities allege that Khalid Mehdiyev may be an operative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which regards Masih Alinejad as a dissident, as she has accused the Iranian government of harassment. She garnered controversy for her journalism and protest campaigns.
As of now, New York authorities have not yet confirmed the connection between Khalid Mehdiyev and Masih Alinejad, but they suspect that the 23-year-old had been monitoring the journalist's home.
Why is Khalid Mehdiyev accused of targeting Masih Alinejad?
As per the New York Post, authorities claim that Khalid Mehdiyev was seen around Masih Alinejad's Brooklyn home throughout Wednesday and Thursday. He allegedly carried out surveillance over a long period of time, even ordering food to his car. He was reportedly seen on the security cameras in Alinejad's home, wandering around the front door and looking through the windows.
Officers eventually detained Mehdiyev after he violated a minor traffic rule by driving through a stop sign. Federal prosecutors accused him of possessing cash, an AK-47, and 66 rounds of ammunition. The suspect claimed he was a Yonkers resident searching for a new apartment around Flatbush, where Alinejad resides.
As of now, Mehdiyev has been charged with possession of a weapon. The accusations concerning his alleged surveillance of Alinejad's home are still currently under investigation.
All there is to know about Masih Alinejad
Alinejad gained notoriety for being critical of an Iranian law that requires all women to wear a hijab outside the home. She led various campaigns advocating for Iranian women, cultivating significant support among activists across the nation.
In an interview with Radio Farda, she said:
“Many Iranians want an end to the Islamic Republic. Opposition voices should be heard.”
In 2009, Alinejad fled Iran, fearing that she would be targeted by the government, however the accusations of harassment continued. In September 2019, Amnesty International reported that three of Alinejad's family members had been arrested by Iranian authorities. This was allegedly a retribution for her activism.
In July 2021, the US department of Justice accused the Iranian government of a kidnapping plot, stating that four Iranian intelligence officials were arrested across the US, the UK and Canada under suspicion of conspiring against a critic of the Iranian government. The BBC reported that Alinejad claimed the plot centered around her.