FPI / April 13, 2022
Two men accused of infiltrating the U.S. Secret Service by impersonating federal agents over the course of several years may have been part of an Iranian plot to avenge the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani by assassinating former high-ranking U.S. officials.
Falsely representing themselves as agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the two men provided Secret Service agents — including agents connected to Joe Biden’s security detail — as well as a DHS employee with rent-free apartments each worth more than $40,000 per year. According to the April 5 arrest warrant, they provided Secret Service agents with iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat-screen television, a generator, and what they said were “official government vehicles.”
Investigators have alleged that Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, posed as various officers and employees of the U.S. government, including members of federal law enforcement agencies, since February 2020 and duped actual federal officers into believing their guise.
What Taherzadeh and Ali were engaged in barely raised the suspicions of the numerous federal agents living in the building.
Law enforcement sources told CBS News that investigators are looking into the possibility that the two suspects have ties to Iranian intelligence including to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite component of the Iranian military that conducts special operations and was headed up by Soleimani until his killing in a U.S. drone strike during the Trump administration.
The nature of Taherzadeh and Ali’s activities in Washington, D.C., “is certainly suggestive of an intention to infiltrate the U.S. Secret Service,” journalist Lee Smith wrote for Tablet.
It was also obvious from information in arrest warrants and court files that the two men were well-funded.
Starting in February 2020, according to an affidavit filed in support of arrest warrants for the two men, they worked out of a building in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., in the fashionable Navy Yard district that is home to federal agents, congressional aides, and other government employees.
“Taherzadeh told one DHS employee in the building that he had a list of all of the federal agents in the apartment complex, along with codes to the elevators that gave him access to every floor, and surveillance footage from around the building,” Smith wrote.
”After the DHS employee tried to verify that the two men worked for the agency by searching internal DHS databases, Taherzadeh said that his name was redacted due to his undercover status. But as the DHS employee might have known, had Taherzadeh really been working undercover, it’s unlikely he would’ve identified himself as an undercover agent — or shown building residents his tactical gear, surveillance equipment, and a high-powered telescope, as well as a handgun he claimed had been issued by a U.S. agency. He also told neighbors he and Ali could access data from the cell phones of everyone who lived in the building.”
Taherzadeh and Ali’s impersonation of U.S. agents was finally revealed by a U.S. Postal Service inspector who was investigating an attack on a postal carrier in the Navy Yard building and was told by residents that the two men might have witnessed the assault.
The inspector interviewed Taherzadeh and Ali, who identified themselves as federal agents who had been deputized by the city government of Washington, D.C., as “special police.” The inspector also learned that the two men had given gifts to Secret Service agents. He then passed the information on to the FBI, which arrested the two men.
“How is it possible that in a building full of federal law enforcement agents, it took a postal service inspector to uncover the two men?” Smith asked. “After all, press reports have suggested for months that the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are aware of active foreign plots against U.S. officials. In particular, the Iranians are intent on taking revenge for the targeted assassination of Soleiman, the onetime chief of the Quds Force, who was second in command only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.”
The FBI claimed Taherzadeh and Ali used their false associations with the U.S. government “to ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community.”
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