A special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration has been arrested after allegedly carrying his firearm and and waving a flag reading “Liberty or Death” as he joined a mob storming the US Capitol grounds on 6 January.
According to federal prosecutors, Mark Sami Ibrahim was on leave and was not acting as a law enforcement officer on the Capitol grounds that day.
Charging documents include photos posted to WhatsApp – from a group chat with at least five other police officers – and images from surveillance video that appear to show Mr Ibrahim posing with his badge and gun and climbing monuments on the Capitol grounds.
He was arrested on 20 July and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm, entering Capitol grounds with a firearm, and stepping and climbing on statues on Capitol grounds.
Mr Ibrahim also was charged with making false statements, following a March interview with the US Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.
During the interview via teleconference, Mr Ibrahim admitted to being at the Capitol with his DEA credentials and firearm but denied that he displayed them, according to federal prosecutors.
“I had my creds. I had my firearm, and my badge on me ,” he told investigators, according to charging documents. “But never exposed ... Not that I know of.”
He said he went to the riot with a friend, who he claims was asked by the FBI to document the event – which his friend denied, according to federal prosecutors.
“According to the friend, Ibrahim crafted this story about how his friend was at the Capitol to assist the FBI and that Ibrahim was there helping him,” prosecutors said.
They were “not there in any formal capacity for the FBI and that the FBI was not giving him directions or marching orders,” according to documents. Mr Ibrahim crafted the story to “cover his ass,” his friend said, according to prosecutors.
His friend told investigators that Mr Ibrahim intended to promote himself at the event to launch a “political podcast and cigar brand,” prosecutors said.
Mr Ibrahim was suspended from the DEA in March.
In an interview with Fox News that month, Mr Ibrahim said after the attack on 6 January, he “got on a flight back to LA. I had my badge and gun taken away from me. I was escorted off the premises to my apartment like a criminal, and I was fired after being suspended for two months, for performance issues.”
He claimed that he “started to document everything and, via my friend, we handed everything over to the FBI so those criminals could face justice” when “the crowd began to be hostile toward law enforcement.”
In a statement to The Independent, attorney Darren Richie said that Mr Ibrahim “looks forward to vigorously defending himself against every charge.”
“The prosecutorial authorities in this case have clearly reached on this indictment with regard to Mr Ibrahim’s conduct which at all times remained peaceful and docile; there is no evidence or allegations to the contrary,” he said.
Mr Richie added: “Mr Ibrahim played no role in any riot. He never committed any violence, attempted to enter any buildings nor induced or promoted others to do so. Further, Mr Ibrahim remained honest and voluntarily cooperative with authorities.”
He said that the US Department of Justice indictment “results from conjecture, political pressure and a flawed attempt to paint a specific narrative through pictures taken wholly out of context.”
“Mr Ibrahim firmly believes the truth shall always prevail,” he added. “Despite now having to defend charges that should never have been brought, he plans to loudly and widely share his truth to pronounce his innocence as well as his love for this country. “
More than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the riot, which sought to stop the certification of millions of Americans’ votes in a violent breach fuelled by Donald Trump’s baseless narrative that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him and his supporters.
The latest charges bring the number of off-duty law enforcement officers charged in the assault to more than 20, following the recent arrests of a father-and-son duo of Florida police officers.
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