Rumors of Israeli Involvement in 9/11
By Brooke Finley
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, many stories circulated about Israeli involvement. There was the story of the five Israelis filming the burning of the World Trade Center and the “art student? spy ring that warned of the attacks. While most of this information has been glossed over by mainstream media, the reports remain extremely important to understanding the overall picture of what happened on September 11, 2001. As the writer, I attempt to cover the facts without any bias and hope to be able to present them as clearly as possible to the reader. I used Paul Thompson’s book The Terror Timeline, as a guide for the dates and incidents reported and then used his reference articles and any others that I could find, as research.
In January 2000, a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) document was leaked to the press suggesting that a large Israeli spy ring had congregated in the United States. [DEA Report, 6/01] In April of that same year, USA Today reported that certain DEA documents revealed that the Israeli spy ring, now commonly called the Israeli “art student? spy ring, “has been linked to several ongoing [Ecstasy] investigations in Florida, California, Texas and New York.” [Insight, 3/11/02] Members of the “art student spy ring? would go door-to-door, claiming that they were selling artwork. Many of their areas of interest were offices and homes of DEA officials.
Between December 2000 and April 2001, Germany reported that Israeli counter-terror investigators were posing as art students and following terrorist cells within the United States. These “art students? identified Atta and Marwan Alshehhi as possible terrorists, while living within several feet of them in the town of Hollywood, Florida. The “art students? were discovered in April and were immediately deported, supposedly terminating the investigation of Atta and Alshehhi. [Der Spiegel, 10/01/02] It was later reported by Fox News that an additional 80 agents were taken into custody between the months of June and December 2001. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
In related foreign press reports, the Mossad learned of four terrorists, living in the U.S., who appeared to be planning an attack in the near future, on the U.S., through information gathered by its “art student? spy ring. [Die Zeit, 10/01/02; Der Spiegel, 10/01/02; BBC, 10/02/02; Ha’aretz, 10/03/02] By June 2001, close to 120 Israeli “art students? were apprehended. [le Monde, 3/05/02; Salon, 5/07/02] A leaked DEA document titled “Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities,” described dozens of reports of the “apparent attempts by Israeli nationals to learn about government personnel and office layouts.” [DEA Report, 6/01] “The report connects the spies to efforts to foil investigations into Israeli organized crime activity involving the importation of the drug Ecstasy. The spies also appear to be snooping on top secret military bases.” [www.cooperativeresearch.org]
At some point, between August 8-15, 2001, two high ranking agents from the Mossad came to Washington and warned the FBI and the CIA that an al-Qaeda attack on the United States was imminent. [Fox News, 5/17/02] On September 20, 2001, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mossad officials stated that indications point to a “large scale target” and that Americans would be “very vulnerable.” [Telegraph, 9/16/01; Los Angeles Times, 9/20/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/17/01] The Los Angeles Times retracted this story on September 21, 2001, because a CIA spokesman stated, “there was no such warning” and that the allegations were “complete and utter nonsense.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/21/01] Israel denied that there was ever a meeting between agents of the Mossad and the CIA. [Ha’aretz, 10/03/02] The United States has denied knowing about Mohamed Atta prior to the 9/11 attacks. [www.cooperativeresearch.org]
Between December 12-15, 2001, the FBI, the DEA and the INS informed Fox News that there were no connections between the “art students” and the incidents of 9/11. They told Fox News that to continue pursuing this topic would be a form of “career suicide.” On December 16, 2001, Fox News pulled any information regarding the “art student spy ring? from its website. Fox never made a formal correction. [www.cooperativeresearch.org]
The mainstream media continued to deny any information about the Israeli spy ring, which turned the original stories into “conspiracy theories” and myths. Jane’s Intelligence Digest blatantly stated on March 13, 2002, “It is rather strange that the US media seems to be ignoring what may well be the most explosive story since the 11 September attacks?the alleged breakup of a major Israeli espionage operation in the USA.” [Jane’s Intelligence Digest, 3/13/02]
On March 11, 2002, the Palm Beach Post mentioned the DEA report about the Israeli “art students.” The newspaper stated that the DEA determined that all of the students had “recently served in the Israeli military, the majority in intelligence, electronic signal intercept or explosive ordnance units.” [Palm Beach Post, 3/11/02]
On March 15, 2002, Forward published the claim that “the incidents in question appear to represent a case of Israelis in the United States spying on a common enemy, radical Islamic networks suspected of links to Middle East terrorism.” [Forward, 3/15/02]
May 7, 2002, Salon carried a story on the “art student? spy ring, mentioning that a government source suggested that the majority of the “art students? were a “smoke screen.” The source suggested that while most were getting caught up in the DEA?s Escasty case, others could complete other missions, such as the monitoring of potential terrorists, without being noticed. [Salon, 5/07/02]
There are other Israeli incidents revolving around September 11, 2001 that should be mentioned. On September 4, 2001, an Israeli-owned shipping company entitled Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co., moved their North American headquarters from inside the World Trade Center, to Norfolk, Virginia” thate week before the 9/11 attacks. [Virginian-Pilot, 9/04/01] Zim had announced its move 6 months before the attacks, [Virginian-Pilot, 4/03/01] yet 10 employees were still in the building on Sept. 11, taking care of the final moving arrangements. They were able to escape, unharmed. [Jerusalem Post, 9/13/01; Journal of Commerce, 10/18/01] A year later, a Zim-American ship was caught attempting to ship Israeli military equipment into Iran. [AFP, 8/29/02]
About 2 hours before the first plane hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2002, Odigo, one of the world’s largest instant messaging firms, received warnings of “an imminent attack in New York City.” Odigo’s headquarters are located two blocks from the World Trade Center but the warnings were received in their Israel location. The FBI was notified immediately after the attacks began. [Ha’aretz, 9/26/01; Washington Post, 9/27/01] The internet address of the instant message was given to the FBI by Odigo in an attempt to find the name of the sender. [Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 9/26/01] Two months after the attacks, the FBI reported that they were still in the process of investigating the instant message and reports have been nonexistent ever since. [Courier Mail, 11/20/01]
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) memo written on Sept 11 explained a situation where a passenger on Flight 11 was shot and killed by a gun prior to the plane crashing into the World Trade Center. The passenger who was killed was Daniel Lewin. On September 17, the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, identified Lewin as a former member of the Israeli special-operations unit, the Israeli Defense Force Sayeret Matkal. [UPI, 3/06/02] The gun story has been denied by officials, claiming that Lewin was most likely, stabbed to death. [UPI, 3/06/02; Washington Post, 3/02/02]
On June 21, 2002, ABC News reported that five Israelis were arrested on Sept 11, 2001 after being caught filming the burning of the World Trade Center from the roof of the “Urban Moving Systems? building, shouting cries of joy. The police found them driving in the company van. [Bergen Record, 9/12/01] Investigators said that there were maps of the city with certain places highlighted, found in the van. The FBI confirmed that two of the five men were Mossad agents and that all five were on a Mossad assignment. [Forward, 3/15/02] They were held on immigration violations, questioned excessively and then released after 71 days in custody. [ABC News, 6/21/02] The owner of Urban Moving System, fled the United States to Israel on Sept 14, 2001. The FBI later told ABC News that the company “may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.” [Forward, 3/15/02; New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, 12/13/01; ABC News, 6/21/01]
While little has been mentioned in the mainstream press about the “art student? spy ring, the questions still remain as to their involvement with the events of 9/11. Were they helping the U.S. government track information regarding the possibilities of an attack within the United States, or were there deeper connections of which the public is unaware? Mainstream media began this story as an investigation, but immediately stopped when officials claimed that it was a farce.
Paul Thompson, “The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute”, Regan Books, September 1, 2004.
For the online version of Paul Thompson’s 9/11 Timeline: The Center for Cooperative Research, “Complete 9/11 Timeline: Israeli spy ring, Israeli foreknowledge”,
DEA Report, “Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students of DEA Facilities”, http://cryptome.org/dea-il-spy.htm, No date available.
Transcript of Fox News four part Israeli spy ring series, http://cryptome.org/fox-il-spy.htm, no date available.
Michael C. Ruppert, “Crossing the Rubicon: The decline of the American empire at the end of the age of oil”, New Society Publishers, 2004.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed & The Institute for Policy Research & Development, “The War On Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001”, Tree of Life Publications, 2002.
Intelligence Online, “Israeli Spy Operation Confirmed”, http://www.911truth.org/readingroom/whole_document.php?article_id=136, March 14, 2002.