Mystery: Why did two men posing as federal agents give gifts to the Secret Service?

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

What are blogs for, if not to speculate irresponsibly?

News broke yesterday that the feds had busted two men in D.C. for impersonating federal agents, but the impersonation was the least interesting detail in the affidavit. The two had spent more than two years living in a luxury apartment building in the capital that’s popular with employees of the FBI, Secret Service, Pentagon, and Navy. They befriended their neighbors in the building — especially the Secret Service — and gave them gifts. And by “gifts,” I don’t mean Secret Santa stuff.

Where’d they get the money to be this generous?

The two men — Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 36 — were taken into custody as more than a dozen FBI agents charged into a luxury apartment building in Southeast Washington on Wednesday evening…

Taherzadeh is accused of providing Secret Service officers and agents with rent-free apartments — including a penthouse worth over $40,000 a year — along with iPhones, surveillance systems, a drone, flat screen television, a generator, gun case and other policing tools, according to court documents.

He also offered to let them use a black GMC SUV that he identified as an “official government vehicle,” prosecutors say. In one instance, Taherzadeh offered to purchase a $2,000 assault rifle for a Secret Service agent who is assigned to protect the first lady.

They told their neighbors that they worked for DHS as part of a task force investigating the insurrection, and even reportedly drove black SUVs with emergency lights. Somehow, these humble public servants were also “living out of several luxury units,” per the affidavit. Residents told the FBI that Taherzadeh seemed to have the building heavily surveilled and assured his neighbors that he was the “go-to guy” there.

Evidently this went on for two years, with no one alerting the feds that something seemed amiss until recently. According to the affidavit, the scheme was exposed only last month when an inspector from the U.S. Postal Service was sent to the building to investigate an alleged assault on a mail carrier. When he spoke to Taherzadeh and Ali, they told him they were members of DHS’s “U.S. Special Police Investigation Unit,” an agency that … doesn’t exist. The inspector notified DHS, which led to last night’s raid.

Let me repeat: It took a postal inspector to expose what appears to all the world to have been an espionage operation, if not something worse, happening right under the noses of members of the Secret Service, FBI, and military. Four Secret Service agents have been placed on leave while the investigation proceeds.

What’s going on?

Time for that irresponsible speculation. It’s hard not to notice that “Taherzadeh” sounds like an Iranian name, and that “Ali” is a name common in Iran. Given how lavish their gifts to the Secret Service were, it’s impossible to believe they weren’t being bankrolled by some larger entity. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been on alert over the past few months for plots against American officials. For instance, in January Secret Service vehicles were spotted outside the home of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, an unusual development. What was that about?

Last month Tom Rogan published this bombshell at the Washington Examiner: “Iran plotting assassination of John Bolton, others, even while Biden negotiates nuclear deal.”

At least two Iranians belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ covert-action Quds Force have been plotting to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton, according to a Justice Department official with direct knowledge of the investigation…

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards particularly despise Bolton and Pompeo, who they see as leading President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions strategy against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s regime. But the primary motive for the plots against them is believed to be rooted in Iran’s desire to avenge the January 2020 U.S. drone assassination of Quds Force’s commander, Qassem Soleimani.

Numerous active and former government officials have told the Washington Examiner that the Quds Force’s current commander, Esmail Qaani, is believed to have been tasked by Khamenei with avenging Soleimani with the high-profile assassination of a U.S. official. Taking theological root in the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali at the 7th-century Battle of Karbala, the Revolutionary Guard force has a fetish for revenge. One government source suggested that Iran’s MOIS civilian intelligence service is also involved in the assassination plots.

Right, the Iranians still “owe” us for the assassination of their notorious commander Soleimani a few days after New Year’s in 2020. Bolton is a curious target in that regard since he’d already left the Trump White House by then, but maybe Tehran assumes (probably correctly) that the ultra-hawkish Bolton had lobbied in favor of the assassination before departing. Bolton and Pompeo would also be easier to target for revenge since they don’t receive lifelong Secret Service protection like Trump does.

But yesterday’s news raises the possibility that the Iranians are aiming higher. If in fact Taherzadeh and Ali are Iranian agents and were cozying up to the Secret Service (including a member of Jill Biden’s detail), one logical scenario is that they’re targeting a member of the current White House — possibly Biden himself, although that would be an act of war — or a member of the Trump White House who still enjoys Secret Service protection, namely, Trump. Or maybe they really are hellbent on killing Bolton and had their plans thwarted by the Secret Service presence outside his home, in which case they may have been hoping to get info from the agents in their building that might help them somehow solve that problem.

If I’m wrong about all that, what’s the logical alternative explanation for what these guys were up to? They’re impersonating cops and letting the Secret Service stay rent-free in their apartments because … they just really enjoy hanging out with federal agents?

By the way, add this to the mile-high pile of evidence that the Secret Service is a thoroughly broken agency suffused in scandal. Imagine if Iran managed to pull off an assassination on U.S. soil and it turned out that Secret Service agents had been living alongside and stupidly accepting lavish gifts from two of the plotters for months beforehand. It’s so unbelievably reckless that I’d guess the agents who have been put on leave are being investigated as willing co-conspirators in whatever was being cooked up inside the building, i.e. that they became double agents. Hopefully they were just idiots, not traitors, but stay tuned.