One of two men accused of impersonating federal agents and giving actual Secret Service agents gifts and free apartments in Washington, D.C., has claimed to have ties to Pakistani intelligence and had visas showing travel to Pakistan and Iran, the Associated Press reports. Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, were arrested Wednesday. The FBI raided a luxury apartment building in Washington, where the men were staying and had been offering free apartments and other gifts to U.S. Secret Service employees. In a court appearance Thursday, prosecutor Joshua Rothstein said Ali said he was affiliated with the Inter-Services Intelligence agency in Pakistan The U.S. has not been able to verify the veracity of Ali’s claims.
Prosecutors believe the men were trying to “ingratiate themselves” and “integrate” with U.S. federal agents and people who worked in the U.S. defense community. The FBI searched five residences at the building and three vehicles. They found body armor, gas masks, zip ties, handcuffs, equipment to break through doors, drones, radios and police training manuals. The two men also had surveillance equipment and a high-power telescope. The FBI found evidence that they may have been creating surveillance devices and found a binder with information on all the residents in the luxury apartment building, which is home to law enforcement officers, defense officials and congressional staffers. Prosecutors allege Taherzadeh and Ali had falsely claimed to work for the Department of Homeland Security and work on a special task force investigating gangs and violence connected to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The plot unraveled when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated an assault involving a mail carrier at the apartment building and the men said they were in a phony Homeland Security unit they called the U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit.