White House Says Man With AK-47 Who Stalked Dissident Journalist in Brooklyn Was Agent for Iranian Government

Masih Alinejad tells TheWrap she has requested a meeting with President Biden on keeping her safe in the U.S.

Masih Alinejad
Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images

The White House has confirmed that a man caught with a loaded AK-47 outside the Brooklyn home of Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad was an agent working for the Islamic Republic of Iran, the journalist and women’s rights activist told TheWrap on Thursday.

Alinejad, who is a U.S. citizen living in New York, said she spoke with Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to President Joe Biden, about the man’s arrest on Sunday and her security going forward. Sullivan later tweeted about their conversation.

“This tweet by Jake Sullivan means finally President Biden administration announced that the Islamic Republic of Iran is behind the the man with a Ak-47 who was trying to assassinate me,” Alinejad said in a text message to TheWrap.

Khalid Mehdiyev, 23, was arrested Sunday by NYPD after he drove through a stop sign and was found to have no license. According to The New York Times, authorities saw him waiting outside Alinejad’s home for two days prior to the arrest, and searches of the vehicle found the loaded machine gun and more than $1,000 in cash in a briefcase. He eventually confessed to authorities that the gun was his and that he was “looking for someone” in the apartment, though did not mention Alinejad by name.

The AK-47 recovered by authorities in New York (Source: criminal complaint against Khalid Mehdiyev)

“I came here in America to be safe,” she told the Times. “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.”

Alinejad has been an outspoken critic of the Iranian government and the Taliban, using her Instagram page to speak out about Iran’s abuses to 7.2 million followers. In 2020, she wrote that Iranian officials had started a social media campaign calling for her abduction from the U.S.; last year, four Iranians were charged with attempting to kidnap her to Iran. 

“In my conversation with [Sullivan] I said I would like an opportunity to meet with President Biden in person to thank US law enforcement for protecting me, and to discuss human rights and democracy in Iran, which have been sidelined by the nuclear deal,” Alinejad said in her text message. “I am still under the FBI protection but it is frustrating that I don’t know whether the threat will continue are going to stop.”

Shortly after her would-be kidnappers were arrested, Alinejad appeared on TheWrap’s podcast to discuss the attempts to silence her and the Taliban’s retaking of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. 

“I have to be strong. I’m not saying that I’m not scared, but this is the goal of the Islamic Republic. They want women to live in fear and paranoia,” she said. “I’m just giving a voice to voiceless people, and when I see women in Iran and Afghanistan risking their lives and sending their voices to me, I want to use my freedom of speech in the United States to give them a greater voice.”

Sharon Waxman and Pamela Chelin contributed to this story.