A grand jury in the District has indicted two men accused of posing as federal agents on false impersonation and weapons charges.
Prosecutors say Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, falsely claimed to be Department of Homeland Security agents and were attempting to “integrate” with federal officers and those in the defense community by lavishing members of the Secret Service and the DHS with gifts including rent-free apartments, iPhones and a drone.
The grand jury’s indictment issued Tuesday also charges the two men with unlawful possession of large-capacity magazines for Glock and Sig Sauer semiautomatic pistols.
Federal prosecutors say the men had presented themselves as federal officials for more than two years.
During a court appearance earlier this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rothstein said Mr. Ali told witnesses that he was affiliated with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and had obtained multiple visas from Pakistan and Iran months before presenting himself as a U.S. official.
Officials told CBS News that investigators are looking into potential ties between the two suspects and Iranian intelligence, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey ruled last week that the Justice Department had not met the standard required to detain the two men, who then were released from federal custody on condition of supervision and GPS monitoring.
Judge Harvey said the Justice Department failed to show that national security information was compromised or that there was any involvement by a foreign government in their alleged actions.
The two men caught the attention of federal officials in mid-March during a U.S. Postal Inspector’s investigation of a reported assault on a letter carrier at their apartment building in the District.
The men told authorities that they were members of a phony DHS task force to investigate gangs and the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The U.S. Postal Inspectors alerted other federal officials after their initial interview with the two men.
During a search of five residences and three vehicles at the apartment building last week, the FBI found body armor, gas masks, handcuffs, and police training manuals and surveillance equipment, officials said. The FBI also found several firearms in the sweep, according to Mr. Rothstein.
Authorities also seized a binder containing information about other tenants in the building, including several who work in law enforcement and other federal agencies.
Among the gifts prosecutors allege the two men provided was a penthouse apartment costing $40,000 per year. Mr. Taherzadeh also offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for one Secret Service agent who serves on the first lady’s protection detail, prosecutors say.
The Secret Service said in a statement to The Washington Post last week that it is conducting a review of the situation and that it is treating the allegations “extremely seriously.”
• Joseph Clark can be reached at email@example.com.
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