Man accused of impersonating federal agent discussed links to Pakistani intelligence

  • Two men have appeared in court for the first time for impersonating federal law enforcement.
  • One of the men claimed to have ties to Pakistani intelligence, a prosecutor told the court.
  • Prosecutors accused the other man of offering to buy a Secret Service agent a $2,000 assault rifle.

They offered access to a black GMC SUV, provided rent-free apartments, gave iPhones, a drone and other freebies – all in a two-year effort to get closer to law enforcement officials. federal laws.

But a day after the FBI arrested Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali, 35, on charges of impersonating federal law enforcement officials, a prosecutor revealed a new — albeit unverified — detail to the court Thursday: Ali, 35, discussed having ties to ISI, the Pakistani Intelligence Service.

“He claimed – we have not verified these claims – but Mr. Ali told witnesses that he had ties to the ISI, which is the Pakistani intelligence service,” said Joshua Rothstein, federal prosecutor. in Washington, DC.

Rothstein’s comments came as Ali and Taherzadeh made their first appearances before a federal justice of the peace in Washington, DC. During the hearing before Magistrate Judge Michale Harvey, Rothstein pointed to Ali’s alleged ties to Pakistani intelligence to argue that he was a flight risk and should be held behind bars ahead of trial.

Rothstein added that Ali had already had a Pakistani visa and two Iranian visas, he suggested an additional charge is on the horizon.

“It’s probably going to be charged with conspiracy,” Rothstein said,

Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey has scheduled a detention hearing for Friday afternoon. During the hearing, Ali asked the court to appoint a public defender to represent him “because I have no money”.

The FBI on Wednesday arrested Taherzadeh, 40, and Ali on charges of posing as federal law enforcement officers. In court documents, an FBI agent said Taherzadeh and Ali began impersonating Department of Homeland Security officials as early as February 2020 and used their fake personalities to woo the federal forces community. order and defence.

Taherzadeh gave Secret Service agents and a Department of Homeland Security official access to what he claimed were “official government vehicles.” He also provided them with rent-free apartments — each with annual rents exceeding $40,000 — surveillance systems and a drone, among other things, according to an FBI agent’s sworn affidavit.

For a Secret Service agent assigned to detail First Lady Jill Biden, Taherzadeh offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle, the affidavit states.

As of April 4, four members of the Secret Service have been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.

During their alleged conduct, Taherzadeh and Ali recruited someone to be a “DHS employee,” according to court records. As part of the hiring process, they required that person be shot with an Airsoft gun to assess the recruit’s pain tolerance, the affidavit states.

Court documents describe a swift investigation that began in mid-March 2022, when a US postal inspector arrived at an apartment complex in Washington, DC, in response to an alleged assault on a mail carrier. At the compound, residents identified Taherzadeh and Ali as possible witnesses and said the two were representing themselves as special agents from the Department of Homeland Security. Residents also said Taherzadeh and Ali used multiple apartments and had a black GMC SUV with emergency lights that they described as an “official DHS vehicle.”

During a search of apartments controlled by Taherzadeh and Ali, FBI agents found disassembled firearms and firearm components, as well as a ballistic vest, bulletproof vest, mask with gas and tactical breaching gear, Rothstein said Thursday. In a building where many members of the law enforcement and defense community live, Rothstein added, officers found a filing cabinet with a list of each resident.

In their interview with the postal services inspector, both Taherzadeh and Ali identified themselves as ‘special police’ agents in connection with gang-related undercover investigations and investigations related to the attack of January 6, 2021 against the Capitol.

During the investigation, the postal service inspector learned of Taherzadeh and Ali’s contacts with government officials and the gifts they gave them, including access to the GMC SUV. The inspector passed the information to the Department of Homeland Security’s Internal Oversight Office, which then referred the matter to the FBI.

The Justice Department announced the charges against Taherzadeh and Ali shortly after FBI agents were seen descending on an apartment complex in the Navy Yard area of ​​southeast Washington. , DC. In response to images and videos posted on social media, the FBI said it was conducting “court-authorized law enforcement activity” in the area.

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