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US says Iran hired 3 members of Eastern European mafia to murder dissident

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The United States charged three suspected members of an Eastern Europe-based mafia group with planning to assassinate Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad on the behest of Iran, based on federal indictments unsealed Friday.

The U.S. Justice Department said the three males — Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev, all of whom have been arrested — plotted to kill the outspoken human rights campaigner in July in alternate for money after the failure of a earlier try by Iran to kidnap Alinejad.

“The victim publicized the Iranian government’s human rights abuses, discriminatory treatment of women, suppression of democratic participation and expression, and use of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and execution,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement. “We will stop at nothing to identify, find, and bring to justice those who endanger the safety of the American people.”

The three males have been charged with offenses together with conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and cash laundering, and will face many years in jail if convicted.

Iran has tried to kill and kidnap dozens of dissidents and others it perceives to be enemies for the reason that so-called Islamic Revolution in 1979, Western officers say, however the try and assassinate Alinejad on American soil counts as its most brazen operation in latest years.

Alinejad, a journalist and social media phenomenon in Iran and past, has been one of the crucial vocal critics of Iran’s brutal regime, commonly calling it out for its mistreatment of ladies and others who dare to problem the mullahs’ authority.

Alinejad said in a video statement posted on Twitter that the FBI had briefed her on the arrests in a gathering on Friday.

“Let me make it clear: I’m not scared for my life because I knew that killing, assassinating, hanging, torturing, raping is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic and that’s why I came to the USA,” she said, calling on the American government to take “strong action” against Iran, noting the a whole lot of people the regime has killed and arrested amid the latest wave of protests there.

“You cannot negotiate with a terror regime,” she said.

American authorities found the newest alleged plot against Alinejad in July. Mehdiyev, a resident of Yonkers, New York, was arrested after a routine site visitors cease close to Alinejad’s Brooklyn residence. Police found an AK-47 assault rifle with the serial quantity filed off, more than 60 rounds of ammunition and a ski masks in his automobile.

Immediately before the arrest, Mehdiyev was caught on a video surveillance digital camera allegedly attempting to interrupt into Alinejad’s house.

Prosecutors now allege that Mehdiyev was a part of a broader conspiracy directed by Iran that also included Amirov and Omarov, each of whom authorities describe as “leaders” of an Eastern European mafia group. Amirov, who lives in Iran, was arrested in New York on Thursday. Omarov was arrested in the Czech Republic on January 4 and the U.S. plans to request his extradition.  

The failed assassination try adopted an earlier plot to kidnap Alinejad that was foiled by the FBI.

That plan, uncovered in July 2021, allegedly concerned an try by Iranian operatives to kidnap Alinejad from her house in Brooklyn after which take her by speedboat to a tanker in New York Harbor before spiriting her off to Venezuela, an Iranian ally, after which on to the Islamic Republic. 

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