Officials claim the pair represented themselves as federal agents to actual members of federal law enforcement, such as a member of the first lady’s security team.
WASHINGTON — Two men are facing charges after the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said they have been impersonating federal agents for at least two years.
Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36, have both been charged with False Impersonation of an Officer of the United States. The pair were arrested leading to a raid of a Southeast apartment building Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, a federal judge ordered Taherzadeh and Ali detained for allegedly impersonating a federal officer. Prosecutors argued flight risk, evidence destruction, and firearms seized at Navy Yard apartment.
An assistant U.S. Attorney said Ali told witnesses he was connected to Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. He said Ali had visas to Pakistan and Iran stamped in his passport.
Both men are U.S. citizens, according to the prosecutor. A federal magistrate judge ordered them held in jail pending a detention hearing on Friday.
According to court documents obtained by WUSA9, the pair is accused of pretending to be officers or employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since at least February 2020.
“Taherzadeh and Ali are not, in fact, employees of the Department of Homeland Security or any United States government agency,” reads the court affidavit.
Four agents under investigation for taking lavish gifts
Officials claim Taherzadeh and Ali represented themselves as federal agents to numerous people, many of whom are actual members of federal law enforcement. The pair reportedly obtained paraphernalia with official insignias, handguns and assault rifles, all used by federal law enforcement agents.
Court documents show that Taherzadeh provided members of the United States Secret Service and an employee of DHS with expensive gifts, including rent-free apartments, iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat-screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator and law enforcement paraphernalia.
He also allegedly offered the use of what he called “official government vehicles,” and offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a U.S. Secret Service Agent who was assigned to the First Lady’s protective details. The four agents who received these gifts have been placed on administrative leave pending further investigation.
Going ‘undercover’ and investigating Jan. 6
On March 14, 2022, a United States Postal Inspector (USPIS) talked to Taherzadeh and Ali while investigating an alleged assault involving a USPS letter carrier.
Court documents claim people living in the apartment complex said to speak with the Taherzadeh and Ali, who they believed were Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents and may have witnessed the assault.
During an interview, the men allegedly identified themselves as deputized “special police” with the city government of the District of Columbia. Court documents show the pair claimed to be involved in undercover gang-related investigations as well as conducting investigations related to the violence at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Recruiting other ‘agents’ and shooting them
According to court documents, Taherzadeh even went as far as to recruit someone to serve as an employee of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).
The unnamed person only referred to as “Witness 1” in court documents, claims that Taherzadeh said he had the authority to hire and deputize people as employees of DHS/HSI. Part of the “HSI recruiting process” Taherzadeh tasked the witness with was to conduct research on a U.S. government contractor who worked to provide support to the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community.
Taherzadeh also allegedly told the witness that he would have to shoot them with an air rifle in order to “evaluate Witness 1’s reaction and pain tolerance.”
According to the witness, they believed this was part of the recruiting process and agreed to be shot. They were then allegedly shot by Taherzadeh while Ali was present.
Lying to the First Lady’s Secret Service detail
A second person only referred to as “Witness 2” in court documents, is identified as a USSS Agent currently assigned to the First Lady’s protective detail.
Court documents claim on July 4, 2021, Witness 2 met Taherzadeh, who allegedly claimed to be an HSI agent and said that Ali was an HSI Analyst. While Taherzadeh was described as being outspoken about this alleged job with HSI, witnesses said he claimed to be part of a covert task force.
“According to Witness 2, Taherzadeh made it clear that he is the “go-to guy” if a resident needs anything in the building,” reads the court affidavit.
The USSS Agent’s wife was one of the many people to reportedly receive gifts from Taherzadeh, including the usage of Taherzadeh’s “government vehicle” and a generator. Taherzadeh reportedly offered to buy a $2,000 assault rifle for the agent to aid him in protecting the First Lady.
Witness 2 told officials they noticed Taherzadeh’s apartment was outfitted with numerous security cameras and claimed he showed Witness 2 security footage from other areas of the apartment complex, indicating Taherzadeh had gained access to the security system for the entire building.
Many of the people who live in the apartment complex are affiliated with federal law enforcement agencies, according to court documents.
Witness 2 claims on Feb. 22 they were sent a photo from Taherzadeh of what he claimed to be an HSI in-service training. Investigators say that the photo turned out to be a stock photo from the internet and that there is no record of Taherzadeh ever participating in any HSI training.
Living rent-free in a $40,000 penthouse
Officials spoke with another person, only referred to as “Witness 3.” They claimed Taherzadeh introduced himself as an HSI agent currently in a gang unit with DHS and said that he used to work in crimes against children.
According to court documents, Witness 3 told officials Taherzadeh’s credentials say ICE on them and indicated that he is a special agent.
Witness 3 also reportedly received lavish gifts from Taherzadeh, including a rent-free penthouse apartment that costs approximately $40,200 a year. Witness 3 told officials Taherzadeh also paid for another federal law enforcement officer’s rent in the same apartment complex and confirmed Taherzadeh lives in and has several units in the complex as well.
The other person who was receiving free rent also spoke with officials and is only referred to as Witness 5 in court documents. Witness 5 told investigators they have seen Taherzadeh interact with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) while wearing HSI gear.
“On one occasion MPD responded to the apartment complex because of a complaint that TAHERZADEH was wearing police equipment,” reads the court affidavit. “Witness 5 stated that MPD responded to the scene but did not take any action.”
In court documents, Witness 3 claims to have seen Taherzadeh with a laptop that is labeled with a DHS symbol. The witness said they saw a federal logon privacy notice when Taherzadeh logged onto the computer.
Name redacted due to ‘undercover status’
Officials also spoke with a fourth person referred to as Witness 4 in court documents. Court documents claim Taherzadeh approached Witness 4 because he believed they were affiliated with HSI or possibly the United States Citizenship Immigration Service (USCIS), which is in DHS.
Witness 4 told officials Taherzadeh claimed to be an HSI agent working undercover. When Witness 4 spoke to their supervisors about Taherzadeh they were unable to verify his information in the HSI internal databases. When Witness 4 confronted Taherzadeh about not being able to find his name in the database, Taherzadeh allegedly claimed his name was redacted due to his undercover status.
Witness 4 also claims that Taherzadeh has a list of all the federal agents that live in the apartment complex and codes to elevators that give him access to every floor, which is beyond what a normal resident would possess.
A Secret Service spokesperson issued the following statement:
“The Secret Service has worked, and continues to work, with its law enforcement partners on this ongoing investigation. All personnel involved in this matter are on administrative leave and are restricted from accessing Secret Service facilities, equipment and systems. The Secret Service adheres to the highest levels of professional standards and conduct and will remain in active coordination with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.”
Despite allegedly handing out tens of thousands of dollars, both men told the judge Thursday that they could not afford a lawyer. The judge appointed a federal public defender to represent them.
WUSA9 is now on Roku and Amazon Fire TVs. Download the apps today for live newscasts and video on demand.
Download the WUSA9 app to get breaking news, weather and important stories at your fingertips.
Sign up for the Get Up DC newsletter: Your forecast. Your commute. Your news.
Sign up for the Capitol Breach email newsletter, delivering the latest breaking news and a roundup of the investigation into the Capitol Riots on January 6, 2021.