Prominent Iranian-American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad has snubbed her former home country just days after arresting a man with an AK-47-style assault rifle near her home in Brooklyn. Alinejad, who fled Iran after the 2009 presidential elections and crackdown, believes the government tried to assassinate her.
“I’m not afraid [for] my life at all because I know what I’m doing,” she said CNN. “I have only one life, and I have dedicated my life to giving a voice to the Iranian people of Iran who are bravely taking to the streets – facing guns and bullets to protest the Iranian regime – but this is happening in America.”
During the interview, she said she believed the man was linked to the Iranian government because she had no other enemies. Alinejad called on the regime to “go to hell”.
Law enforcement officials said they saw Khalid Mehdiyev, 23, outside a home in Brooklyn over a two-day period, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court on Friday. According to authorities, he behaved suspiciously – he got out and back into his car several times, tried to look in the windows of the house and once allegedly tried to open the door.
That same day, police pulled Mehdiyev more than a block from his home for failing to stop at a stop sign, according to the complaint. He was subsequently arrested for driving without a license.
After taking him to a nearby county home, police found a loaded AK-47 with a “erased” serial number in his car, along with “a separate second magazine and a total of approximately 66 rounds of ammunition.”
Although Alinejad was not mentioned in the complaint, she says the authorities informed her about the incident and Mehdiyev’s arrest last week..
“I was shocked when I saw the picture of the gun, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this gun is being used by Russian soldiers in Ukraine right now. This is Brooklyn. What have I done?’” Alinejad told CBS New York.
The home surveillance video that Alinejad shared on Twitter showed a man pacing with a cell phone. Alinejad thinks the man was there to kill her.
“I don’t know about the person, but I know the Islamic Republic. I know my first enemy is the Islamic Republic,” Alinejad said. “Imagine if the guy opened fire. Who knows how many of my neighbors would have been killed?”
According to the complaint, Mehdiyev admitted to police that the assault weapon was his and that he had traveled to Brooklyn from Yonkers to look for someone. He then asked for a lawyer.
Mehdiyev faces multiple federal charges, including criminal possession of a machine gun, reports CBS New York.
Last summer, Alinejad was also the target of, where an Iranian intelligence officer and three suspected members of an Iranian intelligence network were charged. The government denied its role in the conspiracy.
Alinejad has long been an outspoken women’s rights activist. She has launched the “White Wednesday” and “My Stealthy Freedom” campaigns, in which women without headscarves or hijabs film themselves in public in Iran, actions punishable by arrest or fines.
In 2018, Alinejadabout how women are treated in Iran and why she boycotted wearing the traditional headscarf.
“You have to understand that we are not fighting a small piece of cloth,” Alinejad said. “We are indeed challenging the founding bloc of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
She told CBS New York she hopes incidents like this will prompt the White House to keep a closer eye on the Iranian government.
“It’s important that I see that this man is behind the bar, but it’s not just him,” Alinejad said. “These ideas should be stopped by the American government. My crime is just to give a voice to the voiceless people of Iran.”