A special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration brought his service weapon and badge to the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, defiantly displaying them for multiple photos taken in restricted areas on the Capitol grounds after police barricades were overrun, a newly-unsealed court filing reveals.
Mark Sami Ibrahim, who worked out of a DEA office in the Los Angeles area, traveled from California to Washington, D.C., to take part in the pro-Trump insurrection that left five people dead, the filing states. A friend of Ibrahim’s told investigators that the probationary agent “had been thinking about his next move” because he was planning to leave the DEA and “wanted the protests to be his stage for launching a ‘Liberty Tavern’ political podcast and cigar brand,” it explains.
Ibrahim, who was suspended in March after DEA brass found out he had been on site when the Capitol was breached, told investigators he never entered the building. However, he is still facing three charges for entering restricted grounds while carrying a deadly weapon; climbing the Peace Monument outside the Capitol; and lying to federal agents.
Ibrahim’s present troubles began shortly after 1 p.m. on Jan. 6, when he arrived on Capitol grounds, according to cell tower data reviewed by investigators. A few minutes after he got there, he “posed for several photographs in which he flashed and displayed his DEA badge and firearm,” the filing states, noting that an unnamed friend of Ibrahim’s took the pictures.
“The photographs are of such high resolution that the serrations on the slide of Ibrahim’s DEA firearm are visible,” it adds.
About a half-hour later, Ibrahim can be seen on video, approximately 400 feet past the fencing and barricades meant to keep people out, carrying a flagpole with two flags. One, a white flag with a blue star and the words “Liberty or Death,” is known as the “Troutman Flag.” The other was a “Betsy Ross flag,” an early version of the American flag that has in recent years been co-opted by the far right.
After police barricades on the northeast side of the Capitol were pulled apart by the mob, video footage shows Ibrahim and an unidentified relative on Capitol grounds, walking along the side of the building. He then “posed for several photographs in which he again flashed and displayed his DEA badge and firearm,” and took video of himself between the Capitol’s East Portico and the Senate, states the filing.
When Ibrahim posted the images to a WhatsApp group chat he was in with at least five other law enforcement officers, one of them became alarmed.
“Question Mark, you are carrying your duty weapon and your badge/creds? I need to know this mark,” the officer wrote.
A short time later, Ibrahim posted video to the group chat of Ashli Babbitt, a U.S. Air Force veteran who was shot and killed on Jan. 6 by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to storm the Senate chamber, being loaded into an ambulance.
Ibrahim, his friend, and his relative then “continued their clockwise circuit around the Capitol Grounds and arrived at the Peace Monument,” which is located on the property, the filing continues. “Ibrahim then climbed up onto the Peace Monument. While on the Peace Monument, Ibrahim took a video of himself delivering a monologue.”
After climbing down, Ibrahim “again posed for several photographs while displaying his DEA badge and firearm,” according to the filing. In one, Ibrahim can be seen pulling back his jacket to expose his gun and badge while standing next to a person in a MAGA hat and a surgical mask.
On March 15, Department of Justice officials conducted a voluntary interview with Ibrahim, who was accompanied by his lawyer. At the outset of the meeting, investigators told Ibrahim that the most important thing for him was to be honest, and that he could be charged with a crime for lying. Ibrahim acknowledged that he brought his agency-issued firearm to the Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as his DEA badge and credentials, but insisted that he never “displayed or exposed” them while he was there.
“I had my creds,” Ibrahim told investigators. “I had my firearm, and my badge on me… But never exposed… Not that I know of.”
Ibrahim, who had put in his resignation notice at the DEA several weeks earlier but hadn’t yet separated from the agency, was technically on personal leave during the Jan. 6 insurrection. He claimed he had gone to the Capitol at the suggestion of a friend, who he said “had been asked by the FBI to document the event, and that he went along with his friend to assist with that effort.” But the friend denied this version of events, telling investigators that “he was not there in any formal capacity for the FBI and that the FBI was not giving him directions or marching orders. He said that Ibrahim crafted this story in an effort to ‘cover his ass.’”
Ibrahim’s lawyer, Gretchen Gaspari, did not reply to messages seeking comment.