US charges three men in Iran-backed plot to assassinate journalist Masih Alinejad

Polad Omarov, also known as Araz Aliyev, was arrested in the Czech Republic on Jan. 4, while Rafat Amirov, from Iran, was arrested in the US on Thursday. Khalid Mehdiyev was arrested in the US last July.

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The US announced Friday that three men had been arrested and charged for allegedly taking part in an Iran-backed plot to kill an Iranian dissident with American citizenship.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the individuals had been charged for their roles in a conspiracy to assassinate Masih Alinejad, an outspoken critic of the Iranian regime.

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“These charges arise out of an ongoing investigation into the Government of Iran’s efforts to assassinate, on US soil, a journalist, author, and human rights activist who is a US Citizen of Iranian origin,” Garland said in televised remarks. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by an authoritarian regime to undermine those protections and the rule of law upon which our democracy is based.”

A federal court in New York charged Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev with murder-for-hire and money laundering allegations.

The three men were part of an Eastern European criminal organization, according to the Justice Department.

Rafat Amirov, from Iran, was arrested Thursday in the US, while Omarov, also known as Araz Aliyev, was arrested in the Czech Republic on Jan. 4. The US will request his extradition.

Mehdiyev was arrested in the US on July 29, 2022.

Following the Justice Department’s announcement, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan slammed the “disturbing pattern” of the Iranian government-sponsored efforts to kill, torture, and intimidate into silence activists who speak out for the freedoms of Iranians around the world. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Iran continues to pose a threat to the US through its proxies and networks.

She said the indictment exposed a dangerous menace to national security - “a double threat posed by a vicious transnational crime group operating from what it thought was the safe haven of a rogue nation.”

She also pointed out that over the last year, the US had charged members of Iran’s IRGC with a plot to murder former US national security advisor John Bolton.

Iran continues to threaten the lives of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook. Both former diplomats continue to receive federal protection as requested by the State Department to the ongoing threats.

‘I’m not scared’

In a video shared on her Twitter account, Alinejad said that she was not afraid and urged the US government to take decisive action against the Iranian regime.

“Let me make it clear: I’m not scared for my life, because I knew that killing, assassinating, torturing, raping, it’s in the DNA of the Islamic Republic,” she said.

“You cannot negotiate with the terrorist regime,” she added.

Alinejad also warned that failure to take action now will lead to an increase in terrorist activities on American soil.

“If we don’t take a strong action right now, we will face these terrorists on US soil more and more.”

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