Two Iranian-born American nationals and agents of Pakistani spy agency ISI have been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who were charged with impersonating deferral officers allegedly bribed the US Secret Service agents with expensive gifts such as an assault rifle and free apartments.
According to media reports, Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, both Iranian-born US citizens, were arrested on Wednesday after the FBI raided a luxury Washington, DC, apartment building where the two had been staying.
The pair, according to federal officials, claimed they worked for the Department of Homeland Security on a task force to investigate gangs and violence connected to the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
On Friday, federal prosecutors argued Taherzadeh and Ali had “compromised” agents of the Secret Service who were assigned to top security missions and accused them of trying to “ingratiate themselves” with agents of federal agencies.
Assistant US Attorney Joshua Rothstein claimed in court this week that Ali told witnesses he had ties to the Pakistani agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Ali allegedly had obtained three visas from Pakistan and two from Iran in the months leading up to the alleged scheme, and prosecutors believe he took several trips to the Middle East.
“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 wrote in a Friday court filing.
Taherzadeh started to delete electronic evidence once he learned the FBI was investigating him, officials said. Rothstein said he deleted social media posts, which he confessed knew would be used against him.
On Wednesday, the FBI searched five residences in the building where the suspects resided as well as 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 alleged plot started in February 2020 and began to unravel in March 2022 when the US Postal Inspection Service started to investigate an assault on a mail carrier at the luxury apartment building in D.C. It was during this investigation that Taherzadeh and Ali claimed to be affiliated with Homeland Security in a fabricated unit they called the US Special Police Investigation Unit.
The lavish gifts they allegedly tried to give agents as part of their scheme included a US$2,000 assault rifle, a television, phones, surveillance systems and rent-free apartments at the building where they lived, court documents stated. Taherzadeh told investigators Ali had provided money for their operation, which apparently included at least five apartments — two of which investigators said were worth more than US$40,000 each — that were given to Secret Service agents.
Of the four agents suspended by the Secret Service, one was a special agent assigned to first lady Jill Biden’s detail, and a second worked at the White House in the uniformed division.
RealClearPolitics reported on Friday a third suspended agent was on President Biden’s protective detail, and a fourth was assigned to secure Harris’s home.
The Secret Service said on Thursday the federal agency 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 in a statement.
What was Pakistani ISI’s target?
It is still unclear as to what agenda Pakistani spy agency ISI had about President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and why these arrested individuals were travelling to Pakistan, Iran and a “Middle Eastern country”. Although FBI did not disclose the name of the Middle Eastern nation, it is highly anticipated that it could be either Qatar or Palestine.
This case rings alarm in the entire Capitol Hill area, particularly the White House as the mystery of the ultimate agenda of these arrested individuals are yet to be confirmed.
Please follow Blitz on Google News channel