Activist targeted in kidnapping plot says Iran is testing the US and 'to take no action signals weakness'

Activist targeted in kidnapping plot says Iran is testing the US and 'to take no action signals weakness'
  • US journalist and activist Masih Alinejad says Iran is "trying to test the red lines" of Western countries.

  • The Iranian-born author was the target of an attempted kidnapping by Iranian operatives, the Justice Department said.

  • Alinejad told Insider she was disappointed by the Biden administration's intent to continue talks with Iran.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The US journalist and human rights activist who federal prosecutors say was the target of a months-long kidnapping scheme by Iranian intelligence officials believes Iran's regime is "testing the red lines" of Western countries.

And she wants the US to respond with "strong action."

"When ISIS was in power, the whole world actually took action. When Jamal Khashoggi, the American-Saudi journalist brutally was murdered in the embassy in Turkey, what was the reaction of the rest of the world? We saw a lot of statements of condemnation," Masih Alinejad told Insider. "We need to see the same action."

Four Iranian intelligence officials were charged on Tuesday with attempting to kidnap the Iranian-born Alinejad, who has been openly critical of the regime's autocracy, publicly campaigning against Iran's compulsory hijab laws and exposing the abuse women face throughout the country on her social media platforms.

Prosecutors say the accused men monitored and targeted the Brooklyn author, planning to forcibly take her to Tehran, where Alinejad believes she was to be executed.

"I strongly believe that this is the Islamic republic trying to test the red lines of the Western countries," she told Insider.

Alinejad said the kidnapping plot against her has made her more determined to continue her work sharing videos and stories of those being oppressed in Iran and "giving a voice to the voiceless."

"It actually shows me the government is scared of me and that our work is effective," she said. "That gives me power."

But Alinejad said she also wants to see powerful Western countries take a stand against Iran's atrocities.

Alinejad told Insider she hadn't yet heard from the Biden administration personally. She claimed that the lack of a strong response is due to countries' desire to negotiate with Iran over its fledgling nuclear weapons program.

"They're all looking to have a deal with Iran. It's all about [the] nuclear deal," Alinejad said. "They don't want to lose the opportunity and they try to bury human rights under the nuclear deal."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has since commented on the scheme, saying the Biden administration condemns the "despicable plot." But Psaki did not indicate nuclear talks would be affected by the attempted kidnapping of Alinejad, an American citizen.

"We still see it in US interests and in our national interests to engage in ongoing discussion so we can have greater visibility into Iran's path to acquire nuclear weapons," Psaki said during a press briefing, confirming that the US will continue to pursue talks with the country.

Alinejad told Insider she was disappointed by the response.

"To do nothing, to take no action signals weakness," she said.

"It is difficult to see how the Biden administration is going to stand up to dictators and bullies let alone thus like the Islamic Republic," she added.

Alinejad, who remains under FBI protection, said she is still fearful, but not just for herself.

"To be honest, I believe that when the Islamic republic is in power, it's like ISIS. No one is safe around the world. No one who criticizes a religious dictatorship will be safe."

Read the original article on Business Insider