A man was arrested on Thursday while carrying an assault rifle outside the Brooklyn home of Iranian dissident journalist Masih Alinejad, according to federal officials and media reports.
Alinejad, a fierce critic of the Iranian government, was previously the target of a kidnapping plot allegedly orchestrated by Iranian government operatives. The attempt, which was foiled by the FBI, came after Alinejad wrote publicly about the Iranian regime’s efforts to silence her through a “social media campaign calling for my abduction.”
On Thursday, police arrested Khalid Mehdiyev, a 23-year-old Yonkers resident, who was “behaving suspiciously” outside an unidentified residence over a period of days, according to a complaint. After NYPD officers pulled him over for allegedly running a red light, they discovered a suitcase in his backseat containing a loaded AK-47 and 66 rounds of ammunition, prosecutors said.
While the court documents don’t explicitly name Alinejad, the Iranian journalist told the New York Times she was informed by authorities that the 23-year-old suspect was observing her house. She also told the Times she had security footage showing the suspect outside of her home. Law enforcement sources also told the Daily News that Mehdiyev was targeting her journalist’s home.
At one point, prosecutors said, Mehdiyev left his Subaru and attempted to open the front door of the residence in question.
According to the complaint, Mehdiyev told prosecutors that he could not afford his rent in Yonkers and was scoping out the residence to see if he could lease a room. He initially denied knowledge of the assault rifle, before later admitting it was his, adding he was in Brooklyn “because he was looking for someone,” prosecutors said.
Mehdiyev is facing a range of weapons charges, including possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, as well as failure to stop at a sign.
Inquiries to his attorney were not returned.