A year ago, the Secret Service arrested an armed man outside of Vice President Kamala Harris’ six-bedroom mansion at the Naval Observatory.
The alarm bells resounded, particularly over the safety of the nation’s first Black second-in-command.
The concern has only heightened after four U.S. Secret Service agents – including those directly responsible for protecting Harris’ residence and individuals on President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden’s details – faced suspension for allegedly taking bribes from two dangerous law enforcement imposters.
Authorities arrested Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali, who for years portrayed themselves as federal law enforcement agents involved in covert operations on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security.
According to court filings reviewed by The Washington Informer, the men are not law enforcement agents and they are not involved in sanctioned covert activities.
While the U.S. government employs neither, prosecutors allege that the dangerous impersonation scheme they ran was sufficiently realistic to convince other government employees, including law enforcement agents, of their false identities.
Under those disguises, national security was compromised and potentially the lives of Harris and the first couple.
“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,” agency officials said in a statement.
U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves wrote that the men leveraged their phony law enforcement status to ingratiate themselves to other law enforcement agents in sensitive positions.
Graves told the court that the men compromised United States Secret Service personnel involved in protective details and access to the White House complex by lavishing gifts upon them, including rent-free living in an apartment complex in Southeast.
“They procured, stored and used all the tools of law enforcement and covert tradecraft: weaponry, including firearms, scopes and brass knuckles; surveillance equipment, including a drone, antennae, hard drives and hard drive copying equipment; tools to manufacture identities, including a machine to create Personal Identification Verification cards and passport photographs; and tactical gear, including vests, gas masks, breach equipment, police lights and various law enforcement insignia,” Graves stated.
Even more disconcerting, the men traveled freely from the Middle East and other places abroad despite expired passports. On April 5, Taherzadeh and Ali were charged with false impersonation of a federal officer.
They were arrested one day later and appeared in court on April 7. Evidence recovered during a search of the various apartments included firearms and ammunition. Authorities seized a Glock 19 9mm handgun loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition, including one in the chamber, seven rounds of .308 caliber ammunition, and an ammunition box with over 35 rounds of handgun ammunition.
Law enforcement also seized firearm components typically used with long guns or assault rifles, including a firearm barrel of an unknown caliber, a magazine cartridge and a spotting scope commonly used by snipers or a spotter team.
Additionally, hard drives, copying equipment, a computer server, a currency counter and SIM cards were confiscated from the suspects. Prosecutors said the men possessed tactical gear and storage equipment, clothing with police insignias, police parking placards, a latent fingerprint kit and equipment for breaching a door, including a sledgehammer, ram, and Halligan tool, lock picking kit and ax.
An invoice for the men’s Chevrolet Impala listed “Secret Service U.S.,” with fake names in one document. Prosecutors also discovered Taherzadeh had been prohibited from possessing a firearm or even a single round of ammunition because of a prior conviction for domestic violence.
Ali’s expired passport contained several visas authorizing foreign travel. He possessed a passport containing two visas authorizing travel from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“The government has identified at least four entry or exit stamps from Mashhad International Airport in Mashhad, Razavi Khorasan, Iran,” Graves said.