FBI foils Iranian plot to ‘kidnap’ UK-based journalist – ‘Not on our watch!’

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They allege the Iranian state plotted to lure opposition activists from the US, UK and Canada to the Middle East, where they would be arrested. Masih Alinejad, a 44-year-old Iranian-American journalist living in New York, has confirmed she was one of the targets.

Iranian agents allegedly considered an audacious plan to kidnap her, they take her to Venezuela, an Iranian ally, by speedboat.

According to US court documents a UK based journalist, who hasn’t been named, has been under surveillance since at least September 2020.

Private investigators, hired under false pretences, had reportedly taken photographs of the victim’s house.

Three individuals living in Canada were also targeted, along with United Arab Emirates residents.

The court documents allege four Iran based agents were involved in the plot, naming them as Omid Noori, Kiya Sadeghi, Mahmoud Khazein and Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani.

Niloufar Bahadorifar, a fifth defendant, was arrested in California over allegations she was supporting the plot financially.

However she is not accused of playing an active role in kidnap planning.

William F. Sweeney Jr, who heads the FBI’s New York Office, confirmed they regard the scheme as serious.

He said: “This is not some far-fetched movie plot.

“We allege a group, backed by the Iranian government, conspired to kidnap a US-based journalist here on our soil and forcibly return her to Iran. Not on our watch.”

Ms Alinejad, who fled Iran after anti-regime protests were supressed in 2009, confirmed she was one of the plot’s targets.

She tweeted: “I am grateful to FBI for foiling the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s plot to kidnap me.


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“This plot was orchestrated under Rouhani.

“This is the regime that kidnapped & executed Ruhollah Zam.

“They’ve also kidnapped and jailed Jamshid Sharmahd and many others.”

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Mr Zam, an Iranian journalist who was lured back to the Middle East from France, was executed in December 2020.

Ms Alinejad launched the ‘White Wednesday’ and ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ campaigns, which support Iranian women standing up to the regime.

Women who support the movement picture themselves outside in Iran without head coverings, which is illegal in the country.

Iran has been run as a theocratic dictatorship since 1979, when the Islamic revolution swept religious fundamentalists into power.

Iranian authorities have denied there was any plot to kidnap dissidents from the UK, US and Canada.

Speaking to news agency ISNA, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: “This new assertion by the United States, whose enmity with Iran is no secret, is baseless and absurd.”
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