Two possible Iranian agents were wooing feds, including Secret Service agents
It's hard to believe, but two men, Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Ali, through false identities, apparent charm, and hefty bribes, managed to infiltrate the Secret Service and gain access to myriad other federal employees in D.C. Worse, these men may have ties to Iran and Pakistan, the first of which has been in a self-proclaimed war against America since 1979, while the latter is certainly no friend to America although it's not officially an enemy.
News broke Thursday about a truly bizarre tale: the federal government filed a criminal complaint against Taherzadaeh and Ali, alleging that they falsely claimed to be employees in the Department of Homeland Security. With these false identities in hand, they armed themselves with myriad weapons, ingratiated themselves with the many federal employees in the apartment complex in which they lived, and showered gifts on "members of the United States Secret Service (USSS) and an employee of DHS," according to an affidavit supporting the criminal charges filed against the two men. (A copy of the affidavit is embedded below.)
These were not inconsequential gifts, either. They included, "among other things, rent-free apartments (with a total yearly rent of over $40,000 per apartment), iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, a flat screen television, a case for storing an assault rifle, a generator, and law enforcement paraphernalia." Taherzadeh also "offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a United Secret Service Agent [sic] assigned to the First Lady's protective detail." As a result of their accepting these freebies, four Secret Service agents are on "administrative leave pending further investigation."
Incidentally, David Elias, the Affidavit's author, who is currently a "special agent" with the FBI, frequently refers to something called "assault rifle." It's only in paragraph 26 of the affidavit that we learn he's talking about "an AR-15 style rifle." Elias is apparently unaware that "AR" does not stand for assault rifle but, instead, stands for "Armalite Rifle." I'd feel better if an FBI agent actually knew this fact.
Image: Arian Taherzadeh and his police tactical gear from the government’s affidavit.
The two men certainly had chutzpah and a sick sense of humor. In addition to their actual lethal weapons, they also had an Airsoft rifle. They fired it at someone whom they claimed to be recruiting for DHS in order "to evaluate their [sic] pain tolerance and reaction." After being shot, Taherzadeh and Ali informed the "applicant" that his hiring was being processed. They then used the same person to conduct research about someone who gave support to the Department of Defense and U.S. intelligence.
It was all an elaborate fraud that involved a great deal of money, and a huge number of lies made to myriad federal and D.C. police and other authorities. Although the government has not stated any motive behind Taherzadeh's and Ali's conduct, it seems telling that, according to the Daily Mail, prosecutors have said that they found Pakistani and Iranian visas when they searched the men's apartment.
I really don't know what to make of this story right now. Mostly, it indicates that our current crop of federal employees, including Secret Service agents, are a credulous bunch who can be dazzled with the trappings of officialdom. Just as I find unnerving an FBI special agent's belief in the magical weapon called an "assault rifle," I'm extremely uncomfortable learning that those charged with security in our government are, at best, so naïve and, at worst, so corrupt, that they'd be dazzled by these two men who are, at best, con artists and, at worst, agents of Iran, a country openly at war with us since 1979.
The potential Iran connection makes all of this seem even worse when you consider that Joe Biden, with help from Putin's Russia, is currently negotiating with Iran a deal so bad for America that even some Democrats are uncomfortable with what he's doing.