Behold The Invading Force That Is US Law Enforcement

from the sun's-out,-guns-out dept

Last week, federal agents took down two alleged baddies for doing the thing: impersonating federal agents.

Two men have been arrested for allegedly impersonating federal agents over the course of several years. The FBI alleges that Arian Taherzadeh, 40, and Haider Ali, 35, have been pretending to be various officers and employees of the U.S. government, including members of federal law enforcement agencies, since February 2020.

The two allegedly obtained paraphernalia, handguns and assault rifles used by federal law enforcement agencies. The FBI claims they used their false associations with the U.S. government “to ingratiate themselves with members of federal law enforcement and the defense community.”

The pair pretended to be DHS employees. Using this limited amount of subterfuge (along with an apartment full of police gear obtained [allegedly] illegally), the duo managed to compromise US Secret Service members as well as another DHS employee. This apparently included a member of the First Lady’s Secret Service detail.

Private surveillance was leveraged.

Other residents in the building said the two — who held several apartments in the building that they said were “being paid for by DHS” — had access to residents’ surveillance cameras, cell phones and other personal information. Authorities later learned that many of the buildings’ residents were in the FBI, Secret Service and DHS. Others were members of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy.

The subterfuge — and the subsequent FBI raid — involved an expensive and exclusive apartment complex in Washington, DC.

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.

“More than a dozen” somewhat underplays what happened here. And, despite the fact this raid involved a “luxury apartment building,” the FBI dressed for war. This photo is from one of the government’s exhibits in the criminal case. Without context, one might assume this photo was taken at the frontlines of the Ukraine war or possibly is a historical artifact, like (for example) the US military taking control of an Iraqi government controlled financial institute.

In this photo (which does not appear to include the entire FBI raid team), there are at least 13 FBI agents visible. It might possibly contain 14 agents, depending on your interpretation of the protruding limbs seen at the right side of the frame. And it doesn’t appear as though the agents photographed are the entirety of the warrant service crew.

The question is why anyone in the FBI thought camouflage gear would be useful or necessary in a situation like this. The agents casually approaching the foyer of this luxury apartment complex don’t appear to be trying to blend in with the environment. When soldiers wear military gear into cities, it’s because that’s often the only option they have. That’s their normal uniform when engaged in combat and there’s really no convenient place to change into something more stealthy/appropriate when on patrol or seeking to secure certain areas.

But FBI agents have plenty of time to plan their tactical loadout. And, despite going no further than a DC apartment complex, the FBI chose to look like an invading force. While they may have been concerned that the suspects had access to guns and police gear, it makes zero sense to walk single file into an apartment complex duded up like Private Ryan.

Ironically, the gear obtained by the impersonators more closely resembled the public’s expectations about law enforcement’s appearance during police operations.

That’s what people expect cops (and the FBI) to wear. Instead, the FBI showed up like it was the first wave of martial law. And, despite being dressed up like an invading force, agents apparently encountered no resistance and took the suspects into custody without a fight. In the end, this looks like sending a bunch of boys pretending to be men to do a man’s job.

The message it sends to the public, however, is damaging. It shows law enforcement officers (at all levels of the government) prefer to present themselves as an occupying force, no matter what potential danger they’re facing.

Then there’s this bit of inadvertent hilarity in the DOJ’s request for denial of bail. Maybe I’m the only one that thinks it’s funny, but here it is:

[T]hey procured, stored, and used all the tools of law enforcement and covert tradecraft: weaponry, including firearms, scopes, and brass knuckles; surveillance equipment, including a drone, antennae, hard drives, and hard drive copying equipment.

You mean, like “hard drives?” This list (possibly excluding the brass knuckles) looks like the sort of thing any American with some tech knowledge might have in their home at any given time. That firearms are deemed “tools of law enforcement,” rather than the natural result of a constitutional right to bear arms is extremely concerning. That the ability to copy data is considered “covert tradecraft” by the FBI is even more alarming. And stupid. (But mostly alarming.)

It’s just not enough to be a cowboy cop anymore. Cops pretend they’re soldiers to psyche themselves up for regular warrant service. Meanwhile, actual soldiers have to pretend they’ve never been deployed to get average Americans to trust them. What a time to be alive.

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Comments on “Behold The Invading Force That Is US Law Enforcement”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

I imagine the military-level raid was meant for pure intimidation and messages sending of the ‘Do what these two did and a dozen armed people will come knocking and they might not be able to hold-back their trigger fingers next time’ sort.

As for the people themselves it’s more than a little disturbing that the best case scenario I can think of is that they are both absolute geniuses and masters of subterfuge as the alternative explanation, that two average people were able to convincingly pass as multiple government agents and all that entails and it took two years for someone to catch on is rather horrifying.

Andrew says:

Warrior Cops

I suggest reading “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” by Radley Balko. 25 years ago, he was talking about how cops have become more and more like soldiers. No-knock warrants are the rule now rather than the exception, and scenes like this (25 cops in full battle armor taking down two suspects) are commonplace.

When I was a kid, cops were your friends. Not any more.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

A plausible reason for camo.

Dressing law enforcement in camo does reasonably avoid the situation where law enforcement in standard gear was fighting fake law enforcement in standard gear. Assuming it was known they had genuine stolen gear or even similar looking knock offs, standard gear might have been bad. Not putting vests with police over the camo so it was clear to on lookers was definitely a mistake though.

Anonmylous says:


This was my second thought on it as well. They seemed to know or assume the suspects were armed, and had gear to impersonate federal agents/police. A quick stop at a nearby military installation and a request for assistance in order to prevent mass confusion in the event of a shootout does make a lot of sense. Would hopefully prevent outsiders getting into the fray if things went sideways as the building was known to have other law enforcement and military living in it.

Then again, this could have gone RAID-esque instantly too. LEO vs Military, no one knows who is the good guy, everyone choosing sides based on personal experience. Seems like something more subtle would have been better, like blue or yellow armbands.

I do hope this is a learning experience for all law enforcement though. They need to better prepare for this kind of thing. This could have gone sideways so easily and ended in a lot of innocent deaths.

Anonymous Coward says:


Wouldn’t it make more sense to add some one-off paraphernalia like duct-taping their clothes with day-glo colors around their edges? That per operational approach would help prevent future exploitation including paramilitary exploitability like armbands have infamously proven. The fact it is meant to be thrown away afterwards reduces any elite group mysticism.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

You mean their deal to get even more data on people didn’t find this for them?
You mean for 2 years people in sensitive positions never thought to ask if what these bozos were telling them was true?

I mean I get how cons work & the art of the scam but there is 1 single thing that is true & should be really worrying…
You can not con an honest man.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Not the first time.

During the Ferguson unrest in 2014, police came out in weird military-style armor with features like subdued POLICE identification patches, and news reporters asked why subdued? when wearing a POLICE patch you want everyone to see it and know you’re not an invading army.

But yes, I remember being able to go to a cop shop online and pick up fun bits like a handcuff key or (to see that I could) some sap gloves that have reservoirs of metal shot over the knuckles. Allegedly I was supposed to have a precinct number to get specialized not-quite-legal gear, but nah.

It’s another sign that whenever we provide special gear and secrets to law enforcement, industrial spies and hackers will find a way to acquire them as well.

freelunch (profile) says:

Two points, each starting from things I know and then moving to conjecture about things not known in public.

There are dozens and dozens of police forces and similar in DC. These guys appear only to have claimed to be law enforcement in social situations. Claiming to be from a DHS unit of remarkable boringness would both explain why they seemed to have a lot of resources and lower any interest by other security types to ask them about work.

Once proper law enforcement began to leak about these guys to the press (no, I wasn’t on the phone when they leaked but I sure as hell know this happened) they leaked that this might be a big, worrisome superbad security mess. That would explain all the “troops” if they either really believed it or hoped it was true to score a supercollar. The picture is for the Court, not for the public and it, like everything else the FBI had, didn’t convince said Court to hold these guys for trial.

ResearchO.G.S. says:

those coincidental 12s and 13s

I appreciate that you are observing the non-coincidental 12 and 13 configurations in these manufactured terrorism events.

The photo appears to show 15, based on the dangling limbs, and analysis of the reflections, but as you noted, not clear at all.

The real dirty jobs aren’t photo ops. The Michigan #faketerrorism plot is the latest high profile case that utilized the number 12, and those morons weren’t bright enough to even do the most basic counter surveillance of an obvious FBI frame up.

What a shitshow, ay?

You can trace these fake cases by those two numbers alone.

What you have here is likely domestic CIA (or amossadi jihadis) recruiting a gang, and seeing which agents from FBI, et alare suggestibles, v which agents are die hard constitutionalists and so on.

But like the mass shootings and these other strange cases, in the era of internet, it’s getting harder to hide the recruitment strategy of these dark programs. The 12-13 thingy is glaringly obvious.


I can hear Bill Barr now, on low volume, chanting unintelligible things via V2K!!!!

A return to traditional rule of law! Inquisition 2.0!!!!!!

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