A man with a loaded AK-47 rifle was caught outside the Brooklyn home of a prominent Iranian dissident journalist and author, authorities allege, just a year after the FBI foiled a kidnapping plot against the dissident by the Iranian government.
Khalid Mehdiyev spent at least two days staking out journalist Masih Alinejad’s house in Flatbush, getting food delivered to his SUV, looking in her windows and trying to open her door, authorities charge.
Law enforcement officials were watching his movements and on Thursday police pulled him over about a block away from her house after he rolled through a stop sign, according to police and a federal criminal complaint.
The officers found a suitcase with a Norinco AK-47-style assault rifle inside, loaded with a bullet in the chamber and a magazine attached, the FBI alleges. He also had a second magazine and 66 rounds of ammo, the feds say.
The rifle’s serial number “appears to have been obliterated,” according to the complaint.
Though the complaint does not name Alinejad, law enforcement sources confirmed he was targeting her house. Federal prosecutors referenced the earlier kidnap plot against Alinejad without naming her at a hearing in Manhattan Federal Court Friday, sources said.
Mehdiyev was ordered held without bail until his next hearing on Aug. 12.
Alinejad referred to Mehdiyev as an “armed terrorist” in an Instagram post Sunday.
Mehdiyev’s arrest comes as Alinejad posted several videos on social media of women defying Iran’s hijab law, along with news than many of those women had been arrested. On July 25, she penned a Washington Post op-ed piece questioning why Instagram restricted her 7 million follower account after one of her videos went viral.
According to the federal complaint, Mehdiyev, who lists a Yonkers address, was seen outside Alinejad’s house on July 27 and July 28 in a gray Subaru Forester with Illinois plates.
At first Mehdiyev claimed the suitcase with the rifle didn’t belong to him and that he was in the area looking for a new apartment to rent, according to the complaint.
As for trying to open the dissident’s door, he said he opened an outer door to knock on an inner door because he wanted to ask if he could rent an apartment but changed his mind in case he might wake up someone inside, the complaint says.
The $1,100 in the suitcase, which he claimed wasn’t his, was to pay for a hotel room, he told the FBI, according to the complaint.
Later on he changed his story, saying that the rifle was his and that he was in Brooklyn looking for someone, then asked for a lawyer, the complaint alleges.
In July 2021, federal prosecutors in Manhattan indicted Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, 50, an Iranian intelligence official who resides in Iran, and four accomplices, in an elaborate scheme to kidnap Alinejad and lock her up in an Iranian prison.
They spied on her home for months and researched the best route to the Brooklyn waterfront — where they hoped to shove her in a military-style speedboat headed for Venezuela.
Alinejad told the Daily News she lived in three safe houses and the FBI encouraged her to broadcast live videos to her social media followers from several locations so they could track down which videos caught the attention of Iranian intelligence officials.