This story was originally published by the WND News Center.
Three men have been indicted and arrested in what federal officials are describing as a scheme by the government of Iran to assassinate a journalist in the United States.
A statement from Attorney General Merrick Garland said the three were charged with conspiracy to assassinate.
The case comes from an ongoing investigation into Iran’s scheming to kill in the U.S. the journalist, who is a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin.
Taken into custody were Khalid Mehdiyev, Polad Omarov, and Rafat Amirov.
Mehdiyev was arrested with an assault rifle not far from the intended victim’s home in Brooklyn and detained, and the other two defendants are “members of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran.”
The intended victim was targeted by Iran because the government there objected to his opposition to the regime’s violation of human rights, the statement said.
The target, also a human rights activist, previously had been targeted by a conspiracy involving an Iranian intelligence officer and three intelligence assets who planned to kidnap and execute him, the government reported.
The new indictment alleges Amirov, who leads a criminal organization, directed the others to work on the plot.
“Mehdiyev traveled to the victim’s residence, where he took photos and video that he sent back to Omarov. Omarov forwarded the photos and video back up the chain to Amirov. Amirov then arranged a payment of $30,000 to Mehdiyev to buy an assault rifle and carry out the murder. Mehdiyev acquired an AK-47-style assault rifle with an obliterated serial number. He then traveled repeatedly to surveil the victim and the victim’s household members at the victim’s residence,” the federal report said.
The three apparently were trying to find a way to lure the intended victim out of his home to kill him, but their plotting was disrupted by the arrests.
The report said, “The victim, in this case, was targeted for exercising the rights to which every American citizen is entitled. 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.”
That, the report said, “posed such a threat to the government of Iran that the chief judge of Iran’s Revolutionary Courts warned that anyone who sent videos to the victim criticizing the regime would be sentenced to prison – especially videos contrary to criminal laws mandating that women and girls wear head coverings in public.”
The target was not identified in the government’s announcement.