US: Man impersonated agent, claimed ties to Pakistani intel

Apr 7, 2022, 12:31 PM | Updated: 6:14 pm
A Metropolitan Police patrol car is parked in front of a a luxury apartment building in Southeast W...

A Metropolitan Police patrol car is parked in front of a a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged two men they say were posing as federal agents, giving free apartments and other gifts to U.S. Secret Service agents, including one who worked on the first lady's security detail. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — One of two men accused of impersonating federal agents and giving actual Secret Service agents gifts and free apartments in Washington has claimed to have ties to Pakistani intelligence and had visas showing travel to Pakistan and Iran, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

The men, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, were arrested Wednesday. The FBI raided a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington, where the men were staying and had been offering free apartments and other gifts to U.S. Secret Service agents and officers.

During a court appearance Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rothstein said Ali had told witnesses that he was affiliated with the Inter-Services Intelligence agency in Pakistan and that he had multiple visas from Pakistan and Iran in the months before prosecutors believe the men began impersonating U.S. law enforcement officials. Rothstein said the U.S. has not yet been able to verify the veracity of Ali’s claims to the witnesses.

Prosecutors believe the men were trying to “ingratiate themselves” and “integrate” with U.S. federal agents and people who worked in the U.S. defense community, Rothstein said.

The FBI searched five residences at the building on Wednesday and three vehicles. They found body armor, gas masks, zip ties, handcuffs, equipment to break through doors, drones, radios and police training manuals, Rothstein said.

The two men also had surveillance equipment and a high-power telescope, he said. The FBI found evidence that they may have been creating surveillance devices and also found a binder with information on all the residents in the luxury apartment building, which is home to law enforcement officers, defense officials and congressional staffers.

Prosecutors say the men had also set up surveillance in the building and had been telling residents there that they could access any of their cellphones at any time. The residents also told investigators they believed the men had access to their personal information.

The FBI also found several firearms — including handguns and ammunition — and disassembled rifle pieces and sniper scopes, Rothstein said.

Prosecutors allege Taherzadeh and Ali had falsely claimed to work for the Department of Homeland Security and work on a special task force investigating gangs and violence connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Taherzadeh is accused of providing Secret Service officers and agents with rent-free apartments — including a penthouse worth over $40,000 a year — along with iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a television, a generator, a gun case and other policing tools, according to court documents. In one instance, Taherzadeh offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent who is assigned to protect the first lady, prosecutors said.

The plot unraveled when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began investigating an assault involving a mail carrier at the apartment building and the men identified themselves as being part of a phony Homeland Security unit they called the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit.

Investigators believe Ali had taken multiple trips to the Middle East and had three visas showing he had been to Pakistan and two Iranian visas, Rothstein said. U.S. travel records also showed he had traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and Doha in Qatar, he said.

Prosecutors allege one of the men also tried to destroy evidence once he learned he was being investigated. After Taherzadeh found out the FBI was starting to investigate him, he took steps to delete posts on social media and admitted that he had deleted the posts that would’ve been evidence in the case against him, Rothstein said.

A lawyer for Taherzadeh and Ali argued that both men should not be detained. But Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey ordered both men held until a detention hearing can be held on Friday afternoon.

Rothstein said the case was being presented to a grand jury and he expected both men to face federal conspiracy charges.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Reports: Law enforcement officers shoot man on W.Va. highway

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) — Several law enforcement authorities shot a man on a federal highway in West Virginia, news outlets reported Wednesday, and video of the shooting was circulating on social media. Authorities did not release details or respond to requests for more information. In the video, the man walks onto the four-lane freeway near […]
19 hours ago
FILE - White House counsel Pat Cipollone departs the U.S. Capitol following defense arguments in th...
Associated Press

Trump White House counsel Cipollone to testify to 1/6 panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pat Cipollone, Donald Trump’s former White House counsel, is scheduled to testify Friday before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to a person briefed on the matter. Cipollone, whose reported resistance to Trump’s schemes to overturn his 2020 election defeat has made him a long-sought […]
19 hours ago
FILE - Tonya Isabell, left, speaks on June 18, 2020, during a vigil for her cousin Charleena Lyles,...
Associated Press

Inquest: Seattle police shooting of pregnant woman justified

SEATTLE (AP) — An inquest jury found Wednesday that two Seattle police officers were justified in fatally shooting a mentally unstable, pregnant, Black mother of four children inside her apartment when she menaced them with knives in 2017. The six King County coroner’s inquest jurors unanimously determined that officers Jason Anderson and Steven McNew, who […]
19 hours ago
Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday's Highland Park., ...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Should red-flag law have stopped parade shooting?

CHICAGO (AP) — Days after a rooftop gunman killed seven people at a parade, attention has turned to how the assailant obtained multiple guns and whether the laws on Illinois books could have prevented the Independence Day massacre. Illinois gun laws are generally praised by gun-control advocates as tougher than in most states. But they […]
19 hours ago
Tents are shown Wednesday, July 6, 2022, inside Centennial Park in Anchorage, Alaska. State wildlif...
Associated Press

4 bears killed in Alaska campground reserved for homeless

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Alaska wildlife officials have killed four black bears in a campground recently reserved for people in Anchorage who are homeless after the city’s largest shelter was closed. Employees from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Tuesday killed a sow and her two cubs and another adult bear that was […]
19 hours ago
Yesenia Hernandez, granddaughter to Nicolas Toledo, who was killed during Monday's Highland Park., ...
Associated Press

‘Taken too soon’: Remembering Highland Park shooting victims

CHICAGO (AP) — Two of the victims of a July 4 parade massacre in a Chicago suburb left behind a 2-year-old son. Another was staying with family in Illinois after he was injured in car wreck about two months earlier. For some, it was a tradition. They were avid travelers, members of their synagogue and […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
US: Man impersonated agent, claimed ties to Pakistani intel