Advertisement

Third suspect in murder-for-hire plot of Iranian dissident extradited to U.S.

The third suspect in the plot to murder American journalist Masih Alinejad was extradited to the United States on Wednesday. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
The third suspect in the plot to murder American journalist Masih Alinejad was extradited to the United States on Wednesday. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A suspect in the murder-for-hire plot of Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad has been extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic, U.S. officials said.

Poland Omarov, 39, of Georgia, was arrested by Czech law enforcement on Jan. 4 at the request of the United States and arrived in New York on Wednesday when he was arraigned on murder-for-hire and money laundering charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Saral Cave.

Advertisement

Omarov was one of three people charged in January 2023 for the plot to murder Alinejad, a critic of the regime in Tehran.

"Last year, I announced charges against three defendants for their roles in a conspiracy to murder a U.S. citizen who has long been targeted by the government of Iran," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

Advertisement

"At the time of the announcement, two of the defendants were in U.S. custody, and we said that the long arm of the law would find and bring to justice those who seek to threaten, silence or harm American citizens. Today, we have done just that."

The indictment charges Omarov, Rafat Amirov, 45, of Iran and Khalid Mehdiyev, 25, of Yonkers, N.Y., as members of an international criminal organization who schemed in July of 2022 to murder Alinejad at the request of those inside Iran.

The document alleges individuals in Iran sent Amirov the targeting information who then sent it to Omarov who informed Mehdiyev within New York City to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance on Alinejad's home and residence.

Prosecutors accuse Omarov and Amirov of arranging for Mehdiyev to receive a cash payment of $30,000 for the plot, some of which he used to buy an AK-47-style rifle, two magazines and at least 66 rounds of ammunition.

Mehdiyev is accused of repeatedly going to Alinejad's neighborhood to carry out the murder but was unable to do so for various reasons.

The plot was foiled July 28 when Alinejad observed suspicious activity outside her residence and left the area. As Mehdiyev drove away from her home, he was stopped for a traffic violation and a search of the vehicle produced the rifle, rounds, $1,100 in cash and a black ski mask. He was arrested.

Advertisement

A fourth suspect, Zialat Mamedov, has also been charged in the plot.

The Justice Department has withheld the identity of the plot's victim, but Alinejad has said she was the one Iran was seeking to murder.

Alinejad on Wednesday in a statement said she looks forward to testifying at their trial.

"I'm joyful first for having been given a second life and I rejoice in the humiliation of Islamic Republic," she said.

Alinejad has been the target of previous plots by the Iranian government.

In July 2021, the Justice Department announced four Iranians had been indicted for a sprawling multiyear international scheme to kidnap Alinejad and forcibly return her to her native Iran, which she fled in 2009.

"My adopted country has once again saved me from the murderous regime of my birth country Iran," she said.

"The Islamic Republic has twice failed in its attempts to kill me in America to stop me from giving voice to the voiceless and fighting against the Islamic Republic. And I am not alone Iran's regime using transnational repression to silence many other dissents in the West."

Latest Headlines