WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors argued Friday that two men charged with impersonating federal agents had “compromised” Secret Service members assigned to key security missions and raised more questions about the travel of one of the suspects to Iran shortly before his alleged involvement in the ruse.
In a new court filing calling for the continued detention of Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, prosecutors said the suspects sought to infiltrate federal law enforcement and defense agencies by lavishing gifts of rent-free apartments, smartphones, surveillance systems, a flat-screen television and assorted law enforcement paraphernalia on their targets.
Federal authorities also seized on Ali’s recent travel to Pakistan and Iran as raising additional and unresolved national security concerns that should require his continued detention.
“Ali obtained two 90-day visas from Iran and traveled there twice, not long before the charged activity began” in February 2020, the court documents stated. “Should Ali flee to Iran, the United States would be unable to extradite him back as there is not currently an extradition treaty between the United States and Iran.”
Prosecutors also said Ali’s passport contained three travel visas to Pakistan, adding that the suspect told at least one witness he had ties to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
“Until this claim can be further investigated, and given the nature of Ali’s conduct, specifically impersonating federal law enforcement in order to ingratiate himself with and infiltrate networks of federal law enforcement officers and other federal employees, his claim must be taken literally and seriously,” prosecutors said.
According to the court documents, Taherzadeh told investigators following his arrest that Ali had provided the funding for the their operation, which involved the acquisition of at least five apartments, two of which were allegedly provided to Secret Service members for at least a year and valued at more than $40,000 each.
Taherzadeh also allegedly offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to the protective detail of first lady Jill Biden.
The alleged scheme began to unravel last month when authorities began investigating an assault of a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier.
During the investigation, witnesses told authorities that Taherzadeh and Ali, who represented themselves as agents with Homeland Security Investigations unit, may have witnessed the assault.
In a brief statement Thursday, the Secret Service said it was cooperating with the “ongoing investigation.”
“All personnel involved in this matter are on administrative leave and are restricted from accessing Secret Service facilities, equipment, and systems,” the agency said.
The two suspects, both U.S. citizens, are due in court later Friday for a detention hearing.
If convicted, Taherzadeh and Ali face a maximum punishment of three years in prison and fines of $250,000 each.