NATIONAL NEWS

Third suspect in plot to kill Iranian American author on US soil extradited to face charges

Feb 21, 2024, 1:32 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A suspect charged in a plot to kill an Iranian American author and activist has been extradited from the Czech Republic to face charges, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Polad Omarov was arrested by Czech officials in January 2023, when charges were announced against him and two other men in the alleged plot to kill Masih Alinejad, an Iranian opposition activist who has spoken out against human rights abuses there. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Omarov’s extradition Wednesday, nearly 13 months after the indictment in the case was unsealed.

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by an authoritarian regime to undermine the rights to which every American citizen is entitled,” Garland said in the statement.

Phone calls to an attorney representing Omarov, who had spent the last year fighting extradition, rang unanswered. An email message seeking comment was also not immediately returned.

The other two men, Rafat Amirov of Iran and Khalid Mahdiyev of Yonkers, New York, were also charged with money laundering and murder-for-hire in federal court in New York. Both men pleaded not guilty last year.

Charges against a fourth man, Zialat Mamedov, were added in a revised indictment in May 2023. Justice Department officials said at the time that Mamedov was also in the custody of Czech authorities.

Alinejad, an Iranian opposition activist, journalist and writer in exile in New York City, confirmed to The Associated Press in 2023 that she was the intended target. She had fled Iran following the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

She is a prominent figure on Farsi-language satellite channels abroad that critically view Iran, and she has worked as a contractor for U.S.-funded Voice of America’s Farsi-language network since 2015. She became a U.S. citizen in October 2019.

In a message posted to X Wednesday, Alinejad said she was joyful and she looked forward to testifying against the men.

“I want to thank the US law enforcement agencies for their vigilance. My adopted country has once again saved me from the murderous regime of my birth country Iran,” she wrote.

The indictment alleges that the men were all part of an Eastern European criminal organization that has ties to Iran. Court documents allege that Amirov was tasked with arranging the murder, and contacted Omarov to help. The two men allegedly contacted the New York-based Mehdiyev, giving him $30,000 in cash.

Mehdiyev was arrested in 2022 after he was found driving around Alinejad’s Brooklyn neighborhood with a loaded “AK-47-style” rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition.

National News

Holding signs with photos of Israeli hostages and demanding their release, people react as they wat...

Associated Press

Israel-Hamas war latest: Cease-fire talks face delays after Netanyahu’s fiery speech to Congress

Officials from Egypt, Israel, the United States and Qatar were expected to meet Thursday in Doha with the aim of resuming talks for a proposed three-phase cease-fire to end the war between Israel and Hamas and free the remaining hostages. But an Israeli official said Israel’s negotiating team was delayed and would likely be dispatched […]

37 minutes ago

FILE - A woman fills out a pledge card for the U.S. Census in exchange for a reusable boba tea cart...

Associated Press

Noncitizens are less likely to participate in a census with citizenship question, study says

Adding a citizenship question to the census reduces the participation of people who aren’t U.S. citizens, particularly those from Latin American countries, according to a new research paper that comes as Republicans in Congress are pushing to add such a question to the census form. Noncitizens who pay taxes but are ineligible to have a […]

4 hours ago

FILE - State Election Board member Rick Jeffares asks the crowd to settle down during a hastily pla...

Associated Press

Trump-friendly panel shapes Georgia’s election rules at long, often chaotic meetings

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia State Election Board, which once toiled in relative obscurity, now hosts raucous meetings where public comment spans several hours and attendees regularly heckle its members. The shift highlights how election administration has become increasingly scrutinized and politicized, particularly in Georgia and other states that President Joe Biden flipped for Democrats […]

5 hours ago

FILE - This June 13, 2016 photo shows Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Florida. Thousands ...

Associated Press

Takeaways from AP’s investigation into DEA corruption, agent accused of rape

MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of secret law enforcement documents obtained by The Associated Press offer a never-before-seen window into a culture of corruption among U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents who parlayed the agency’s shadowy money laundering operations into a worldwide pursuit of binge drinking and illicit sex. Among the documents is a recovered WhatsApp chat, […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Reggie Daniels pays his respects a memorial at Robb Elementary School, June 9, 2022, in Uval...

Associated Press

Uvalde school officer charged over actions during Robb Elementary shooting set to appear in court

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — A former Uvalde school police officer who was part of the slow law enforcement response to the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School is scheduled to appear in court for the first time Thursday. Adrian Gonzales was one of the nearly 400 law enforcement personnel who responded to the scene […]

5 hours ago

This October 2014 photo obtained by The Associated Press shows then-U.S. Drug Enforcement Administr...

Associated Press

Secret DEA files show agents joked about rape in WhatsApp chat. Then one of them was accused of it.

MIAMI (AP) — In a WhatsApp chat that quickly devolved into depravity, a group of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents boasted about their “world debauchery tour” of “boozing and whoring” on the government’s dime. They swapped lurid images of their latest sexual conquests. And at one point they even joked about “forcible anal rape.” Within […]

5 hours ago

Third suspect in plot to kill Iranian American author on US soil extradited to face charges