A man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle was arrested in Brooklyn on Thursday outside the home of Iranian dissident journalist Masih Alinejad, local media reported three days later.
Khalid Mehdiyev, 23, loaded his assault rifle before approaching the area where she lived, the New York Post reported.
Mehdiyev was arrested for "lurking for two days." Police also found more than $1,000 in cash in a suitcase, a high-capacity magazine, 66 rounds of ammunition and two different license plates in his car.
Alinejad, 45, has no reported connection to Mehdiyev. She was also the target of an international kidnapping plot in 2021 that was orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence network, The New York Times reported, citing the journalist.
Four Iranians were charged with conspiracy after they planned to kidnap Alinejad and forcibly bring her to Iran. Mehdiyev walked around the journalist's property and peered into her windows several times, according to investigators.
Iran called the kidnapping allegations "baseless," NBC New York reported.
Alinejad targeted by Iran
Alinejad has been vocal in her criticism of the Iranian government, according to the Times. She has been especially vocal about women's rights.
Before they arrested Mehdiyev, police had spotted him in a gray Subaru Forester SUV with an Illinois license plate several days earlier. Cops eventually arrested him after discovering that he had been driving without a license and that his license had been suspended – and after he rolled through a stop sign, local media reported, citing an NYPD spokesperson.
Alinejad and her family relocated to a safer location, the Times reported.
Mehdiyev said in response to his arrest that he traveled to Brooklyn looking for an apartment. He is from Yonkers, New York, where he said the cost of rent was too high.
He also claimed that the suitcase full of money was not his, that he knew nothing about the gun and that he had borrowed the car. He later confessed that the gun belonged to him.
The FBI and NYPD are investigating whether Mehdiyev acted alone.