Iranian Journalist Flees Brooklyn Home After Man With Loaded AK-47 Arrested Nearby

Masih Alinejad, an outspoken women’s rights activist, was the subject of a kidnapping plot to take her to Iran last year

Masih Alinejad at TheWrap Power Women Summit 2018

A man with a loaded AK-47 was arrested on Thursday outside the Brooklyn home of Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.

The 23-year-old suspect was arrested by NYPD after he drove through a stop sign and was found driving without a license. According to The New York Times, law enforcement saw the suspect waiting in his car outside Alinejad’s home for two days prior to the arrest, and later searches of the vehicle found the loaded machine gun with additional rounds and more than $1,000 in cash in a briefcase.

When questioned by authorities, the suspect confessed that the gun was his and that he was “looking for someone” in the apartment, though he did not mention Alinejad by name.

Alinejad, 45, has been an outspoken critic of the Iranian government and the Taliban in Afghanistan, using her Instagram page to speak out about Iran’s abuses to 7.2 million followers. In 2020, she wrote that officials there had started a social media campaign calling for her abduction from the U.S.; and last year, four Iranians were charged with attempting to kidnap her and send her to Iran.

Alinejad told The New York Times that she has since fled with her family to a safe location.

“I came here in America to be safe,” she said. “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.”

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.”

TheWrap could not reach Alinejad for further comment.