The FBI arrested two men on Wednesday and charged them with attempting to impersonate Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents in order to get close to First Lady Jill Biden’s Secret Service detail.
Federal authorities accused Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, of obtaining handguns, rifles and other materials in their effort to pose as DHS employees, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for Washington D.C. Authorities said the two men tried to get close members of federal law enforcement officers, defense community officials and several U.S. Secret Service agents, including at least one assigned to protect the First Lady.
As of Monday, four Secret Service agents have been placed on administrative leave after their interactions with the two suspects. According to the criminal complaint, the agents will remain on leave pending further investigation.
According to the criminal complaint, Taherzadeh provided a Secret Service agent and DHS employee with, among other things, “Rent-free apartments (with a total yearly rent of over $40,000 per apartment), iPhones,
surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia.” The complaint states Taherzadeh also offered the government employees the use of what he claimed were “official government vehicles.”
Taherzadeh also offered to buy a rifle, valued at $2,000, for the Secret Service agent on the First Lady’s protective detail.
Taherzadeh and Ali are further accused of recruiting an individual to be an “employee of DHS” and “serve on their task force.” As part of their recruitment process, they shot the individual with an airsoft gun (which fires plastic BBs) to evaluate their pain tolerance for the job.
According to the criminal complaint, federal authorities began to investigate Taherzadeh and Ali after a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) inspector tipped them off. The USPS inspector was investigating an assault on a letter carrier in the area where Taherzadeh and Ali lived. Individuals living in the area told the USPS inspector that the two men may have witnessed the assault. When the USPS inspector came to interview the two men, they allegedly continued to identify themselves as federal agents.
Taherzadeh and Ali allegedly told the USPS inspector they were deputized “special police” with the city government of the District of Columbia. The two men allegedly claimed they had been involved in undercover gang-related investigations and investigations related to the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the U.S. Capitol.
Through his investigation, the USPS inspector learned that Taherzadeh and Ali were in regular contact with Secret Service agents and offered to buy one of them a rifle. The USPS inspector provided his findings to the DHS Office of Inspector General, which then turned the information over to the FBI for further investigation.
According to the criminal complaint, investigators determined Taherzadeh and Ali began posing as DHS officers or employees as early as February 2020.
Taherzadeh and Ali are scheduled to appear before the D.C. District Court on Thursday, according to the Washington Post.