Many questions remain in impersonation plot that duped federal agents, prosecutors say

“This investigation is less than two weeks old and getting worse every day as more and more evidence and more and more witnesses are presented,” prosecutor Josh Rothstein told a federal judge on Friday.

The Justice Department argues that Haider Ali and Arian Taherzadeh should remain behind bars while the investigation continues. Judge Michael Harvey peppered prosecutors with questions, many of which they were unable to answer.

The hearing will continue on Monday and the two men will remain behind bars over the weekend. Neither Taherzadeh nor Ali have submitted a formal statement.

The two men spent more than two years posing as Homeland Security agents to curry favor. with federal law enforcement officers, some of whom lived in a posh DC complex where they had apartments and amassed a small arsenal of weapons and surveillance equipment, according to court documents.

Federal investigators are trying to unravel how the men paid for five apartments in a high-rent Washington neighborhood, as well as weapons and other equipment, a US law enforcement official said.

Among the investigators’ questions is whether the money could have come from a foreign government, though they have noted that the effort does not appear to have the sophistication expected of trained foreign intelligence services.

Rothstein noted that one of the men, Ali, has citizenship status in Pakistan and is also a naturalized US citizen. Ali had traveled to Iran in the months before the scheme began, Rothstein said, and made five other trips abroad, including to Iraq and Pakistan.

Rothstein told Harvey during the detention hearing that they had not determined the source of his funding or whether they had been able to cover the rent in full.

The men, prior to their arrest, were in the process of being evicted from the building, where they allowed members of the Secret Service to live for free in two of the apartments they rented, Rothstein said. The prosecutor added that the landlord could have “subsidized his corruption, without knowing it.”

Prosecutors say copycats who duped Secret Service agents are dangerous flight risks

Another lingering question, prosecutors said, is whether any of the weapons or surveillance equipment were left over from Taherzadeh’s alleged time as a deputy special officer in the DC police.

The apartment complex also did not have Taherzadeh’s company listed as a security provider, Rothstein said, and that would still not explain the amount of weapons and ammunition, as well as the battering ram, drone and other surveillance equipment found in their apartments. .

“You don’t need almost 100 rounds of ammunition to be a special police officer in the lobby of a building,” Rothstein said.

The Justice Department also said it doesn’t know how Ali and Taherzadeh acquired a list of everyone in their apartment building, a code to open the door to any unit and access to the building’s security cameras.

The amount of evidence acquired from the five apartments is extensive, Rothstein said, noting that investigators filled an entire moving truck with seized property. Rothstein also said the Secret Service is investigating whether anything found in the apartments was government-provided equipment.

CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.

Leave a Comment