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Armed man arrested after trying to gain access to Iranian dissident’s home in NYC

Suspicious individual caught on camera looking through windows, trying to open door to home of Masih Alinejad, who has since moved to safety

In this file photo taken on April 7, 2016, Journalist Masih Alinejad speaks onstage at the 7th Annual Women In The World Summit at the Lincoln Center in New York City. (Jemal Countess / Getty Images North America / AFP)
In this file photo taken on April 7, 2016, Journalist Masih Alinejad speaks onstage at the 7th Annual Women In The World Summit at the Lincoln Center in New York City. (Jemal Countess / Getty Images North America / AFP)

A man armed with an AK-47 rifle was arrested on Thursday outside the New York home of an American-Iranian journalist who was the target of a kidnapping plot last year.

Khalid Mehdiyev was seen behaving suspiciously outside the home of Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad for two days last week. On Thursday, he parked his Subaru Forester SUV outside her home and was said to peek through the windows of the house and try to open the front door, according to a criminal complaint filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

Mehdiyev was pulled over and arrested by New York City police for running a stop sign and driving without a valid license. Law enforcement then found him in possession of a suitcase containing the loaded rifle and $1,100 in $100 bills, the complaint said.

He has since been charged with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and is being held without bail. Mehdiyev’s attorney Stephanie Marie Carvlin did not comment to US media on the matter.

“I came here in America to be safe,” Alinejad told the New York Times in a phone interview on Sunday.

“First, they were trying to kidnap me. And now I see a man with a loaded gun trying to enter my house. I mean, it’s shocking,” she said. While Alinejad was not mentioned as a target in the court document, she was informed by police of the man’s presence outside her home, and also possessed security footage of him.

Alinejad and her family moved to a secure location, the dissident said.

Last year, four operatives were charged in absentia for attempting to kidnap Alinejad and a number of other targets who were critical of the Iranian regime.

Tehran denied the allegations.

Alinejad said she was moved to a series of safe houses while the FBI investigated the plot, which also involved a California-based Iranian who helped hire private investigators to follow her, according to the indictment.

The 45-year-old journalist left Iran in 2009, studied in Britain and worked for the US government-backed Voice of America’s Persian-language service.

Since 2014, Alinejad also has maintained a Facebook campaign, “My Stealthy Freedom,” to support Iranian women who don’t want to wear the hijab covering — required for women in the country.

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