US accusation of attempted assassination of three Iranians. Last Minute WORLD headlines and events
US Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that US prosecutors have charged three people with attempted assassination of a prominent figure critical of the Iranian government. The man was previously the target of a Tehran-sponsored kidnapping attempt.
Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev were charged with contract killing and money laundering for their involvement in a failed assassination attempt on a Brooklyn journalist and activist backed by Tehran.
Garland stated that the attacked journalist published publications about human rights violations by the Iranian government, discrimination against women, suppression of democratic expression and participation, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and executions.
Garland did not reveal the identity of the target of the attacks. However, last year Mehdiyev was arrested in New York for carrying a rifle outside journalist Masih Alinejad’s Brooklyn home. Alinejad, who has long been a critic of Iran’s hijab laws, shares videos of women breaking the laws with her millions of social media followers.
Mehdiyev, 24, who has pleaded not guilty to possession of a firearm with an erased serial number, is being held at the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting trial.
Iran’s mission to the UN has not yet responded to requests for comment on the matter.
In 2021, four Iranians were accused by US Attorney’s Office of being Tehran’s intelligence officers plotting to kidnap a journalist from New York. The name of the journalist who became the target of this plot was not released, but the Reuters news agency confirmed that it was Alinejad.
Garland said that the target of the assassination plot and the attempted kidnapping were the same person.
U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the allegations against the three men followed “a disturbing pattern of behavior that has consisted of Iranian government-sponsored killings, torture and acts of intimidation of Iranian activists around the world in order not to protect their fundamental rights and freedoms.”
Prosecutors said Iranian Amirov informed Czech and Slovenian residents of Omarov of the target after the 2021 kidnapping plan fell through. According to the prosecutor’s office, Omarov later passed this information on to Mekhtiyev, who lives in New York’s Yonkers neighborhood.
According to prosecutors, Amirov and Omarov later forced Mehdiyev to receive $30,000 in cash, which Mehdiyev used to buy a machine gun and ammunition. Then in July 2022, it located the vicinity of the target in a matter of days. However, he was pulled over for a traffic violation and arrested when the police found the gun.
Garland said Amirov, 43, was captured outside the US. Preliminary hearings on the case of Amirov, who was detained yesterday in the United States, will be held today in federal court in Manhattan. Omarov, 38, was arrested earlier this month in the Czech Republic. The US wants Omarov to be expelled.
In 2011, the United States arrested a man at a restaurant he frequented in the capital who he told the Saudi ambassador in Washington to be linked to an Iranian assassination plot.
Since the Islamic Revolution, which ousted US ally Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1979, US-Iranian relations have been marked by military action.
In recent years, Iran’s nuclear program, its support for proxies in the region, and its violent crackdown on protests following the death of Mahsa Amini have heightened tensions between the two countries.
Iran accuses the West of fomenting unrest in the country.
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