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Journalist Masih Alinejad tells Iran to "go to hell" after man with weapon arrested near her N.Y.C. home

Masih Alinejad on women's issues in Iran
Masih Alinejad on "being a product of the Iranian Revolution" and the treatment of women in Iran 01:40

Prominent Iranian-American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad lambasted her former home country just days after a man with an AK-47-style assault rifle was arrested near her home in Brooklyn. Alinejad, who fled Iran in 2009 following the presidential election and crackdown, believes the government was trying to assassinate her. 

"I'm not scared [for] my life at all because I know what I'm doing," she told CNN. "I have only one life, and I dedicated my life to give voice to Iranian people inside Iran who bravely go to the streets — face guns and bullets to protest against Iranian regime — but this is happening in America."

During the interview, she said she believes the man was tied to the Iranian government because she has no other enemies. Alinejad told the regime to "go to hell."

Journalist and author Masih Alinejad speaks onstage during the WICT Leadership Conference at New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on October 16, 2018, in New York City. Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Women in Cable Telecommunications

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Friday, law enforcement said they had seen Khalid Mehdiyev, 23, outside of a Brooklyn home over a period of two days. He was acting suspiciously, according to authorities — he exited and got back into his car several times, attempted to look into the home's windows, and, at one point, allegedly tried to open the door. 

That same day, police pulled Mehdiyev over a block away from the home for failing to stop at a stop sign, according to the complaint. He was subsequently arrested for driving without a license.

After taking him to a nearby precinct house, police found a loaded AK-47 with an "obliterated" serial number in his car, along with "a separate second magazine, and a total of approximately 66 rounds of ammunition."

During a search of the suspect's car following his arrest, federal prosecutors say NYPD found a suitcase containing a Norinco AK-47-style assault rifle.  Southern District of New York

Although the complaint made no mention of Alinejad, she says authorities notified her of the incident, and Mehdiyev's arrest, last week, CBS New York reports.

"I was shocked that when I saw the picture of the gun, I was like, 'Wait a minute, this gun is being used right now in Ukraine by Russian soldiers. This is Brooklyn. What did I do?'" Alinejad told CBS New York. 

Home surveillance video, which Alinejad shared on Twitter, captured a man pacing back and forth with a cellphone. Alinejad believes the man was there to kill her. 

"I don't know anything about the person, but I know the Islamic Republic. I know that my first enemy is the Islamic Republic," Alinejad said. "Imagine if the guy had opened fire. Who knows how many of my neighbors would have been killed?"

According to the complaint, Mehdiyev admitted to police the assault weapon was his and that he had traveled from Yonkers to Brooklyn to look for someone. He then asked for a lawyer.

Mehdiyev is facing multiple federal charges, including criminal possession of a machine gun, CBS New York reports. 

Last summer, Alinejad was also the target of an alleged kidnapping plot, where an Iranian intelligence officer and three alleged members of an Iranian intelligence network were charged. The government denied its role in the plot.

Alinejad has long been an outspoken women's rights activist. She has launched "White Wednesday" and "My Stealthy Freedom" campaigns, where women film themselves without head coverings, or hijabs, in public in Iran, actions which are punishable by arrest or fines.

In 2018, Alinejad spoke with CBS News about how women are treated in Iran, and why she boycotted wearing the traditional headscarf.

"What you have to understand is we are not fighting against a small piece of cloth," Alinejad said. "We are actually challenging the foundational block of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

She told CBS New York she hopes incidents like this one lead the White House to keep a closer eye on the Iranian government.

"It is important that I see this man is behind the bar, but this is not only him," Alinejad said. "These ideas should be stopped by the American government. My crime is just giving voice to the voiceless people inside Iran."

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