Prominent Iranian dissident tells ITV News of 'multiple attempts' to assassinate her

Author and women's rights activist Masih Alinejad has twice been the target of foiled Iranian plots in the United States, ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reports

The UK government “didn’t do anything” to confront the threat to Iranian dissidents on British soil because it refused to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to a prominent Iranian American activist.

Masih Alinejad, a journalist and author who has twice been the target of foiled Iranian plots in the United States, said the regime is exploiting differences among its adversaries to tackle its attempts to kidnap and kill abroad.

"The UK government, the US government, French government, the G7 countries, they are not as united as the dictators" she said.

Asked what more Britain should be doing to tackle a growth in the number of threats to the safety of journalists and human rights activists in the UK, Ms Alinejad said: "They didn't do anything. Why do you ask what more?

"They have to designate the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organisation. That's so simple.

"They have to follow their own ally. I mean, I really don't get it. The Islamic Republic hired criminals. Criminals," she added.

Author and women's rights activist Masih Alinejad. Credit: AP

Ms Alinejad was responding to revelations by ITV News in December that two television news presenters codenamed ‘the bride and the groom’ by Iranian spies were the subject of an assassination plot in west London.

A people trafficker was offered 200,000 dollars (£157,800) to kill two Iran International presenters Fardad Farahzad and Sima Sabet.

British officials say this was one of at least 15 credible threats to kill or kidnap UK nationals and residents since 2022.

Ms Alinejad says the plot should have been a trigger for Western governments to do more.

"They say, we stand with Masih, we stand with Sima, we stand with Fardad. I don't want them to stand with us," she said.

"I want the leaders of democratic countries to sit down and be united and make concrete decisions. Just have one strategy when it comes to ending terrorism on your own soil."

One plot against Ms Alinejad could have seen her being kidnapped in New York and then taken by boat to Venezuela, which maintains friendly ties with Iran.

The FBI said the scheme had the ring of “some far-fetched movie plot”. It is alleged that she would have been taken to Tehran to stand trial.

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The second foiled plot was to kill her at her home in New York.

Doorbell footage filmed in 2021 showed an armed suspect lurking outside her house as part of the plan.

Three suspected members of an Eastern European mafia organisation are accused of planning the assassination at the behest of Iran.

Only last week, one of the men, Polad Omarov, was extradited from the Czech Republic to the United States where he will stand trial.

When news of the extradition came through, Ms Alinejad said: “I was like: ‘Yes!’ because I can [now] show the rest of the world in a public trial of the same guys that this is it.

"These are the people, and this is the mindset of the regime killing my women inside Iran. Raping women.

“To be honest, I started to sing, I started to dance. Think about it. In my birth country of Iran, the government is trying to kill me. My adopted country of America is trying to protect me.”

Ring doorbell footage showcased an armed man lurking outside her home in 2021. Credit: ITV News

But ITV News has learned of concerns around a potential third plot against her which led to the last-minute cancellation of a speaking event at a university in Connecticut earlier this month.

She was due to speak at a ‘student’s forum’ on February 15 at Fairfield University until the event was called off without explanation.

Ms Alinejad would not confirm what sources have told ITV News, but she said: "I cannot share the details but I’m in touch with the FBI, the law enforcement, and they’re doing everything that they can to stop a third attempt.

"I want to be alive to see that the Islamic Republic is gone."

A spokesperson for Fairfield University said it "respects the varying views and opinions of all invited campus guests and speakers, and supported the decision to cancel the Open Visions Forum event on February 15 due to un-foreseen circumstances."

Ms Alinejad contrasted the approach from US authorities with that taken in the UK towards targeted journalists.

Sima Sabet and Fardad Farahzad, aka 'The Bride and Groom', were the targets of an assassination plot. Credit: ITV News

The two Iran International presenters in the ‘bride and groom' plan only discovered they were the subject of the assassination plot when they were contacted by ITV News in December, more than a year after it was hatched.

"When I saw Fardad and Sima on your show I just wanted to hug them, because I know it’s not easy," Ms Alinejad said.

"It was shocking for me to see. In my case at least there was an FBI agent and law enforcement came to my house, respected me, and told me ‘the Iranian regime wants to kill you’.

"And then when I saw Farad’s face in the show that he had just learned about the assassination plot from you, I was like ‘wow, don’t the UK government have respect for journalists? Freedom of speech?'

"I still get angry when I think about journalists learning about death threats from you and not from the government whose duty it is to protect the national security of the United Kingdom. Shocking."

The UK government announced sanctions against two Iranian officials with links to Tehran's regime after the ITV News exposé was broadcast.

Among seven individuals sanctioned by the US and UK were Mohammed Ansari, an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) official, and Muhammed Abd al-Razek Kanafani, who were named in the report for threatening to kill Iran International journalists in London.

Unit 840, a group within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that was named in the ITV News report for co-ordinating threat to Iran International, was also sanctioned – the same organisation which targeted Ms Alinejad.

"Unit 840 means they have a bunch of people sitting inside Iran thinking about how to get rid of people like me, miles away from their border," Ms Alinejad added.

"When I heard about that I got goosebumps."

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