A man with an AK47 assault rifle was arrested outside the home of Iranian-American journalist and dissident Masih Alinejad, according to the New York Post.
The suspect was arrested on Thursday outside a Brooklyn, New York residence, court documents state.
Khalid Mehdiyev, 23, was detained outside the home with the rifle, a high-capacity magazine, and $1,000 in cash.
The federal complaint states that he was arrested after lingering outside the residence for two days.
The complaint doesn’t outline any connection between the suspect and Ms Alinejad. It says that Mr Mehdiyev had been concentrating on an unidentified Brooklyn home.
Law enforcement watched the suspect sitting in a grey Subaru Forester SUV with an Illinois license plate for hours on Wednesday and Thursday.
The federal authorities said he ordered food to the vehicle, looked through the windows and tried to open the front door of the home.
He was stopped by the NYPD on Thursday after rolling through a stop sign. It was discovered that he was driving without a license and he was arrested.
Searching the car, police found the loaded rifle, several magazines, further rounds of ammo, a bag with cash, and two other license plates, according to the New York Post.
The suspect told police that he had been living in Yonkers, but that the rent was too high and that he was looking for a new place to live in Brooklyn.
He claimed to have tried to open the front door to knock on an inside door to ask if he could rent a room in the home.
At first, he told police that he had borrowed the vehicle and that he didn’t know anything about the firearm, adding that the bag with cash wasn’t his.
The complaint states that he later acknowledged that he was the owner of the rifle and that he had been in the area “because he was looking for someone”.
Ms Alinejad spoke out last year after she allegedly was the target of a wild, elaborate plot by Iran to use a speedboat to kidnap her in New York.
Federal prosecutors said at the time that they had charged four Iranians with plotting to kidnap the journalist and activist, who lives in Brooklyn and is an outspoken critic of the Iranian government. An American-Iranian who lives in California was arrested earlier in July 2021 and charged with providing funds to the plot.
An indictment released by prosecutors said four Iranian agents had hired a New York-based private investigator, under false pretences, to film Ms Alinejad and other family. They said they also researched the option of spiriting her away from the city on a speedboat, and possibly taking her to Venezuela, a nation with friendly relations with Iran.
Ms Alinejad told the press last summer that she would not let the plot silence or intimidate her.
“The Republic is that close to me – even here in Brooklyn,” she said at the time, speaking to CBS News. “And this is the nature of the Islamic Republic, kidnapping the dissidents and executing them.”
Yet, she said she would not stop her work, which draws an enormous audience on social media.
Asked if she was going to continue writing, she said: “Oh yeah, I am not going to give up.”
Indeed, she suggested the fact that the authorities were keen to silence her, shows “the government in Iran is scared of me”. She added: “It gives me hope that the government is scared of the voice of people, because I’m the voice of people.”
Prosecutors said the plot to snatch Ms Alinejad was part of a broader scheme to lure three individuals in Canada and a fifth person in the United Kingdom, along with individuals in the United Arab Emirates, to Iran.
It said the idea of using a speedboat only was raised after efforts to persuade Ms Alinejad to trick her to visit a third country, in the Middle East, had failed.
Even investigators appeared to concede there was something of a fantastical element to the plot, with William Sweeney, the head of New York’s FBI office, telling The Guardian last year that the charges had the ring of “some far-fetched movie plot”.