Murder-for-hire and money laundering charges have been filed against three organized crime members who allegedly planned to assassinate a New York journalist in a plot that originated in Iran.
The three men face three charges carrying as many as four decades in prison, with one also facing a firearms charge that could bring another five-year sentence, the Justice Department announced in a press release.
The men are:
- Rafat Amirov, 43, of Iran
- Polad Omarov, 38, of the Czech Republic
- Khalid Mehdiyev, 24, of Yonkers, New York
They allegedly were tasked with murdering a journalist, author and human rights activist living in Brooklyn, New York who is critical of the Iranian regime. Their alleged mission to kill the journalist on U.S. soil came after the FBI indicted Iranian intelligence officials for trying to kidnap the journalist and bring them to Iran.
“Today’s indictment exposes a dangerous menace to national security – a double threat posed by a vicious transnational crime group operating from what it thought was the safe haven of a rogue nation: Iran.
Amirov and Omarov are leaders of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran that was “tasked with” carrying out the murder, according to the release. From Iran and the Czech Republic, they allegedly sent the New York-based Mehdiyev directions to surveil the journalist’s home beginning in July 2022.
Amirov and Omarov arranged for a $30,000 cash delivery to Mehdiyev, which he partly used to buy an AK-47-style rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition. For over a week, he repeatedly surveilled the journalist’s home, according to the release.
At one point, he told Omarov he was “at the crime scene” and said “it will be a show once she steps out of the house.” Omarov forwarded the message to Amirov, who said, “God willing,” according to the release.
On July 28, Mehdiyev sent Omarov a video of himself driving with the rifle, saying “we are ready,” but the journalist noticed suspicious activity and left the area. Driving away, Mehdiyev was pulled over for a traffic violation, and police discovered the rifle, ammunition, a black ski mask, and about $1,100 in cash inside his car, according to the release.
“Today’s indictment exposes a dangerous menace to national security – a double threat posed by a vicious transnational crime group operating from what it thought was the safe haven of a rogue nation: Iran,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “As national security and criminal threats continue to blend, the Department of Justice will use all its tools to zealously protect freedom and hold accountable all those who would use violence to undermine it.”
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.