It is hard to keep up with the kidnapping and assassination attempts on the outspoken Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad.
Alinejad, who now lives in Brooklyn, has had a target on her back for voluminous social media posts decrying the repression of human rights and violations against citizens in Iran. The Islamic regime in Iran wants her voice silenced.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced two more arrests in the July attempt to assassinate Alinejad. A federal court in New York unsealed charges against Rafat Amirov, 43, and Polad Omarov, 38. Khalid Mehdiyev, 24, was arrested and charged over the summer. They are charged with money laundering and murder-for-hire.
The three – members of an Eastern European crime group called “Thieves-in-Law” – are accused of surveilling Alinejad’s home in July and of attempting, unsuccessfully, to kill her. Mehdiyev was caught with weapons, ammunition, a black ski mask and cash inside his car. He had an AK-47 style rifle and multiple bullets. Prosecutors said he received $30,000 for the assassination attempt.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said that “America will not tolerate attempts by a foreign power to threaten silence or harm Americans.”
“We will stop at nothing …to bring to justice those who endanger the safety of the American people,” he said.
Omarov was arrested in the Czech Republic on Jan. 4 and is awaiting extradition. Amirov was also arrested outside the U.S. and arrived in New York on Jan. 26.
This was the second known attempt on Alinejad’s life. In 2021, four alleged Iranian intelligence operatives were indicted on charges with plotting to kidnap the journalist and returning her to Iran.
“I came here to America to practice my freedom of speech, my freedom of expression,” she said in an interview with MSNBC. “I’m giving voice to brave leaders, brave women inside Iran. The Islamic Republic is afraid of its own people.”
Despite the attempts on her life and living under constant threat, Alinejad said she cannot be silent, she must be the voice for the Iranian people.
“My weapon is my voice,” she said.
Iran is known for targeting dissidents overseas. ALL ARAB NEWS interviewed Gazelle Sharmahd, the daughter of Jamshid Sharmahd who was kidnapped in 2020 while waiting to catch a plane in Dubai. Sharmahd was ferried to Iran where he is on trial and awaiting sentencing on charges of terrorism against the Iranian regime.
Since the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been implicated in more than 360 assassinations, terrorist plots, and terrorist attacks in more than 40 countries, not counting inside Iran.
Meanwhile, protests that began in Iran after the death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly violating Iran’s strict Islamic dress code, have largely tapered off after deadly crackdowns by the regime. Instead of widespread demonstrations, women are practicing civil disobedience by walking in public without the compulsory headscarf, or hijab.