Four foreign Iranian agents have been charged by the Department of Justice of hatching a plot to kidnap an Iranian journalist in America and deporting her to face charges in Iran through a friendly country. Information about a fifth person, a woman based in the U.S., has also been reported as she helped to fund the stealth operation. The entire operation reads like a movie plot. Unfortunately, it is allegedly true, and a women journalist has escaped a horrible fate thanks to the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The Manhattan federal court does not name the person, except identifying the intended victim as a journalist and a human rights activist. However, the journalist herself Masih Alinejad has told NBC News that she was the target. The New York Times also reported that the Brooklyn journalist, who has been critical of the regime in Iran, confirmed that she was the person who has been targeted.
The 43-page indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday detailing the roles of the four conspirators and the fifth woman who helped facilitate funds for the operation. They are
- Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani
- Mahmoud Khazein
- Kiya Sadeghi
- Omid Noori
- Niloufar Bahadorifar
The Justice Department said that Farahani was an official in Iranian Intelligence service and Khazein, Sadeghi and Noori worked for him in Iran.
Sadeghi and associates reached out to a private investigator (P.I.s) to get high resolution photos and videos of the target’s house and cars. They told the P.I. that the target had fled Dubai to avoid paying debts.
The team also researched “military style speedboats” to evacuate the victim from her home in Brooklyn, New York City (NYC) and checked maritime routs from NYC to Venezuela, a country friendly with Iran. Bahadorifar. a Californian woman, facilitated payments to the P.I.s used by the group. These details were reported in the indictment by the FBI.
Alinejad is a U.S. citizen with Iranian origins. She was a journalist in her native country for several before fleeing to America in 2009 after a government crackdown that followed presidential elections. She has been in New York, U.S. since 2014. Masih Alinejad thanked the FBI for foiling the plot to kidnap her.