Something More Than Just Con Men
This article is part of our continuing coverage of the arrest of Arian Taherzadeh and Haider Sher Ali – the two individuals posing as DHS agents who appear to have compromised several members of Secret Service protective details. Most of the press coverage to date seems to have written the two off as grifters with no real nefarious agenda. While the investigation is ongoing, the information that continues to flow in suggests the case may be much more serious than that.
“This investigation is less than two weeks old,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Rothstein said at Friday’s detention hearing for Taherzadeh and Sher Ali. “And every day the facts get worse and worse… The defendants were not merely playing dress-up with firearms and ammunition, body armor, tactical gear, surveillance equipment, they were engaged in conduct that represented a serious threat to the community and compromised the operations of federal law enforcement, and created a potential national security threat.”
The memorandum submitted by the government at the detention hearing supports completely the suspicion that these two individuals were involved in something much more sinister than just conning some gullible government employees. Recovered from the apartment – in addition to multiple firearms – were:
“Firearm components typically used with long guns or assault rifles including, among other things: (1) a firearm barrel of an unknown caliber; (2) weapon stock attachments1; (3) foregrips2; (4) pistol grips; (5) a magazine cartridge; and (5) scope(s). In addition, law enforcement recovered a spotting scope, which can be used in a sniper/spotter team.”
“Law enforcement recovered numerous electronic devices including, among other things: (1) a significant quantity of surveillance equipment; (2) approximately 30 hard drives; (3) hard drive copying equipment; (4) a computer server containing six modules; (5) a machine to create and program Personal Identification Verification (PIV) cards and blank cards with embedded chips; (6) a currency counter; (7) several Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards; and (8) antennas.”
“Law enforcement also recovered 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, Halligan tool, lock picking kit and axe.”
“With respect to documents, law enforcement seized, among other things: (1) a binder containing a list of residents, apartment numbers, and contact information; (2) a DHS Procedures Manual: (3) a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Manual; (4) Law Enforcement Use Only documents; (5) immigration documents for a number of individuals3; (6) a box of documents with profiles of individual people4; (7) passport photos of what appears to be Ali; (8) USSP documents; and (9) miscellaneous mail and documents associated with Taherzadeh and Ali.”
“In addition, law enforcement seized a significant quantity of Airsoft ammunition. Law enforcement also recovered a rifle scope, tactical gear and storage equipment, clothing and patches with police insignias, handheld radios, a high-end drone, a gas mask, handcuffs, zip ties, breaching equipment, a cleaning kit for firearms, an ultraviolet flashlight, an RF-GS k18 which is used to locate hidden cameras, microphones and RF transmitters (e.g. vehicle trackers), computer server with two modules, an encrypted portable hard drive, antennas, and a firearms holster mounted and hidden under a desk.”
We here at AND Magazine have spent more of our share of time in the field running clandestine and counter-terrorist operations. The list of gear seized by the FBI reads like what you would expect to find in a safe house for a team involved in preparation for some sort of lethal operation. In such an eventuality one would expect that once they had identified a target and acquired enough data to allow for the formulation of a plan of attack another team would enter the country to actually carry out the assassination.
We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as appropriate.