Bad Actors

Man arrested for impersonating federal agent had Iran visas

Two men are charged with impersonating federal officers and attempting to infiltrate law enforcement and defense agencies

AP Photo/Jon Elswick

The affidavit to support the arrest of Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali.

One of two men arrested by federal agents on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., for allegedly impersonating federal law enforcement officers had an Iranian entry visa dated just before the alleged scheme began, prosecutors claimed in a hearing on Thursday.

Haider Ali and Arian Taherzadeh were arrested by the FBI, which also raided their apartments at a luxury apartment building in Washington on Wednesday. Federal authorities say they impersonated federal officers and offered gifts to various legitimate federal officers, including a member of First Lady Jill Biden’s Secret Service detail. 

Prosecutors said on Wednesday in an initial court hearing that Ali told witnesses he had ties to Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. Investigators also found passports with two entry visas to Iran, one of which was dated January 2020. The alleged scheme began the next month. At least one visa showed that Ali had entered Iran. Prosecutors said both men are U.S. citizens.

They said Ali traveled elsewhere throughout the region in 2019, including to Istanbul and Doha.

Ali and Taherzadeh were also found to be in possession of an array of law enforcement-style equipment — firearms, long-gun parts, body armor, law enforcement patches, surveillance equipment, handcuffs, door-breaching equipment and a drone; documents marked “law enforcement sensitive”; and a list of every resident in the Washington apartment complex, including numerous law enforcement and defense officials and congressional staffers.

A federal judge ordered that both men remain in custody pending a detention hearing Friday afternoon. Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Rothstein said the case is being brought before a federal grand jury and he expects they will face conspiracy charges.

Authorities accused Taherzadeh of providing Secret Service agents with free apartments — including one penthouse with rent totaling over $40,000 a year — and various pieces of technology, as well as offering to purchase a $2,000 rifle for a member of the first lady’s detail. Despite this, both men were found to be financially eligible for court-appointed attorneys.