By Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand | CNN
Investigators said Thursday that they had seized a cache of weapons during a search of multiple Washington, DC, apartments belonging to two men accused of impersonating Department of Homeland Security agents for more than two years.
Between five residences and three vehicles that belong to Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali, agents found multiple weapons on Wednesday, including a loaded Glock 19, disassembled long guns, sniper spotting equipment, and ammunition, according to prosecutor Josh Rothstein, as well as handcuffs, radios, body armor, a surveillance drone and several servers. Agents also found a binder with a list of all the names of people who lived in their apartment complex, Rothstein said, many of whom were law enforcement.
Prosecutors say the men had also set up surveillance in the building and had been telling residents there that they could access any of their cellphones at any time. The residents also told investigators they believed the men had access to their personal information.
Prosecutors revealed information about the search results on Thursday during Taherzadeh and Ali’s initial appearance before a DC federal judge. Neither has entered a formal plea.
The two men were arrested Wednesday.
According to the affidavit, Taherzadeh and Ali obtained assault rifles, handguns and other items to pose as federal agents and attempted to “ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement.”
Taherzadeh allegedly gave federal agents gifts including rent-free apartments, surveillance systems, a phone and a drone and offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent assigned to first lady Jill Biden’s protective detail, the affidavit said.
The plot unraveled when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began investigating an assault involving a mail carrier at the apartment building and the men identified themselves as being part of a phony Homeland Security unit they called the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit.
According to the affidavit, as of Monday, four Secret Service members had been placed on administrative leave pending investigations.
The Justice Department asked a judge to hold the two men in jail while they await trial because of their extensive amount of weapons, deletion of evidence and potential to flee the country. Rothstein said Taherzadeh had deleted a Facebook page and that Ali had multiple Pakistani visas and claimed to be connected to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
According to Rothstein, Ali traveled to Doha, the capital of Qatar, several times in 2019 and had two Iranian visas, one showing an entry into Iran, and three Pakistani visas. Both men are US citizens, Rothstein said.
A detention hearing is set for Friday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Orange County Register