COLUMN ONE HUNDRED, DECEMBER 1, 2003
(Copyright © 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THEY KNOW IN ADVANCE?
JOYFUL ISRAELIS FILMED AS WORLD TRADE CENTER WAS DESTROYED BY JETS
possible that Israeli intelligence agencies did what U.S. intelligence agencies
failed to do---shadow the World Trade Center terrorists so that Israeli agents
were ready to film the attack? If Israeli intelligence had prior knowledge of
the event, why wasn't American intelligence forewarned? Or was it?
possible that Israel did warn America but that the Bush Administration
let the attack occur for political reasons--- because the Bushies wanted a
provocation to invade Afghanistan?
Baraka wrote his poem, Somebody Blew Up America, we questioned
this stanza because we hadn't seen mention of it in the newspapers:
Who know why Five Israelis was filming the explosion
And cracking they sides at the notion
We asked Amiri for verification and he
has given us the following:
From England's Sunday Herald of November 2:
Five Israelis were seen filming as jet liners ploughed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 ...
Were they part of a massive spy ring that shadowed the 9/11 hijackers and knew that al-Qaeda planned a devastating terrorist attack on the USA? Neil Mackay investigates
THERE was ruin and terror
in Manhattan, but, over the Hudson River in New Jersey, a handful of men were
dancing. As the World Trade Centre burned and crumpled, the five men celebrated
and filmed the worst atrocity ever committed on American soil as it played out
before their eyes.
Who do you think they were?
Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qaeda, surely? Wrong on all counts. They
were Israelis---and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents,
working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA.
Their discovery and arrest
that morning is a matter of indisputable fact. To those who have investigated
just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful
possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qaeda hijackers
as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America where they
trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United
States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the
After the attacks on New
York and Washington, the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was
asked what the terrorist strikes would mean for US-Israeli relations. He said:
"It's very good." Then he corrected himself, adding: "Well, it's not
good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from Americans]."
If Israel's closest ally
felt the collective pain of mass civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists,
then Israel would have an unbreakable bond with the world's only hyperpower
and an effective free hand in dealing with the Palestinian terrorists who had
been murdering its innocent civilians as the second intifada dragged on
It's not surprising that
the New Jersey housewife who first spotted the five Israelis and their white van
wants to preserve her anonymity. She's insisted that she only be identified as
Maria. A neighbour in her apartment building had called her just after the first
strike on the Twin Towers. Maria grabbed a pair of binoculars and, like millions
across the world, she watched the horror of the day unfold.
As she gazed at the burning
towers, she noticed a group of men kneeling on the roof of a white van in her
parking lot. Here's her recollection: 'they seemed to be taking a movie.
They were like happy, you know ... they didn't look shocked to me. I thought
it was strange."
Maria jotted down the
van's registration and called the police. The FBI was
Police Chief John Schmidig
said: "We got an alert to be on the lookout for a white Chevrolet van with New
Jersey registration and writing on the side. Three individuals were seen
celebrating in Liberty State Park after the impact. They said three people were
jumping up and down."
By 4pm on the afternoon of
September 11, the van was spotted near New Jersey's Giants stadium. A squad
car pulled it over and inside were five men in their 20s. They were hustled out
of the car with guns levelled at their heads and handcuffed.
In the car was $4700 in
cash, a couple of foreign passports and a pair of box cutters---the concealed
Stanley Knife-type blades used by the 19 hijackers who'd flown jetliners into
the World Trade Centre and Pentagon just hours before. There were also fresh
pictures of the men standing with the smouldering wreckage of the Twin Towers in
the background. One image showed a hand flicking a lighter in front of the
devastated buildings, like a fan at a pop concert.
The driver of the van then
told the arresting officers: "We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your
problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem."
His name was Sivan Kurzberg. The other four passengers were Kurzberg's brother Paul, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari. The men were dragged off to prison and transferred out
of the custody of the
FBI's Criminal Division and into the hands of their Foreign
Counterintelligence Section---the bureau's anti-espionage squad.
A warrant was issued for a
search of the Urban Moving premises in Weehawken in New Jersey. Boxes of papers
and computers were removed. The FBI questioned the firm's Israeli owner,
Dominik Otto Suter, but when agents returned to re-interview him a few days
later, he was gone. An employee of Urban Moving said his co-workers had laughed
about the Manhattan attacks the day they happened. "I was in tears," the man
'these guys were joking and that bothered me. These guys
were like, "Now America knows what we go through."?
Vince Cannistraro, former
chief of operations for counter-terrorism with the CIA, says the red flag went
up among investigators when it was discovered that some of the Israelis? names
were found in a search of the national intelligence database. Cannistraro says
many in the US intelligence community believed that some of the Israelis were
working for Mossad and there was speculation over whether Urban Moving had been
'set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an intelligence operation
against radical Islamists".
This makes it clear that
there was no suggestion whatsoever from within American intelligence that the
Israelis were colluding with the 9/11 hijackers---simply that the possibility
remains that they knew the attacks were going to happen, but effectively did
nothing to help stop them.
After the owner vanished,
the offices of Urban Moving looked as if they'd been closed down in a big
hurry. Mobile phones were littered about, the office phones were still connected
and the property of at least a dozen clients were stacked up in the warehouse.
The owner had cleared out his family home in New Jersey and returned to Israel.
Two weeks after their
arrest, the Israelis were still in detention, held on immigration charges. Then
a judge ruled that they should be deported. But the CIA scuppered the deal and
the five remained in custody for another two months. Some went into solitary
confinement, all underwent two polygraph tests and at least one underwent up to
seven lie detector sessions before they were eventually deported at the end of
November 2001. Paul Kurzberg refused to take a lie detector test for 10 weeks,
but then failed it. His lawyer said he was reluctant to take the test as he had
once worked for Israeli intelligence in another country.
Nevertheless, their lawyer,
Ram Horvitz, dismissed the allegations as 'stupid and ridiculous". Yet US
government sources still maintained that the Israelis were collecting
information on the fundraising activities of groups like Hamas and Islamic
Jihad. Mark Regev, of the Israeli embassy in Washington, would have none of that
and he said the allegations were 'simply false". The men themselves claimed
they'd read about the World Trade Centre attacks on the internet, couldn't
see it from their office and went to the parking lot for a better view. Their
lawyers and the embassy say their ghoulish and sinister celebrations as the Twin
Towers blazed and thousands died were due to youthful foolishness.
The respected New York
Jewish newspaper, The Forward, reported in March 2002, however, that it
had received a briefing on the case of the five Israelis from a US official who
was regularly updated by law enforcement agencies. This is what he told The
Forward: 'the assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the
Mossad and operatives employed by it." He added that 'the conclusion of the
FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs?, but the men were released
because they "did not know anything about 9/11".
Back in Israel, several of
the men discussed what happened on an Israeli talk show. One of them made this
remarkable comment: 'the fact of the matter is we are coming from a country
that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event." But how
can you document an event unless you know it is going to happen?
We are now deep in
conspiracy theory territory. But there is more than a little
circumstantial evidence to show that Mossad---whose motto is "By way of
deception, thou shalt do war?---was spying on Arab extremists in the USA and
may have known that September 11 was in the offing, yet decided to withhold
vital information from their American counterparts which could have prevented
the terror attacks.
Following September 11,
2001, more than 60 Israelis were taken into custody under the Patriot Act and
immigration laws. One highly placed investigator told Carl Cameron of Fox News
that there were 'tie-ins? between the Israelis and September 11; the hint
was clearly that they'd gathered intelligence on the planned attacks but kept
it to themselves.
The Fox News source refused
to give details, saying: "Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is
classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's
classified information." Fox News is not noted for its condemnation of Israel;
it's a ruggedly patriotic news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch and was
President Bush's main cheerleader in the war on terror and the invasion of
Another group of around 140
Israelis were detained prior to September 11, 2001, in the USA as part of a
widespread investigation into a suspected espionage ring run by Israel inside
the USA. Government documents refer to the spy ring as an "organised
intelligence-gathering operation? designed to "penetrate government
facilities". Most of those arrested had served in the Israeli armed
forces---but military service is compulsory in Israel. Nevertheless, a number
had an intelligence background.
The first glimmerings of an
Israeli spying exercise in the USA came to light in spring 2001, when the FBI
sent a warning to other federal agencies alerting them to be wary of visitors
calling themselves "Israeli art students? and attempting to bypass security
at federal buildings in order to sell paintings. A Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) report suggested the Israeli calls "may well be an
organised intelligence-gathering activity". Law enforcement documents say that
the Israelis 'targeted and penetrated military bases? as well as the DEA,
FBI and dozens of government facilities, including secret offices and the
unlisted private homes of law enforcement and intelligence personnel.
A number of Israelis
questioned by the authorities said they were students from Bezalel Academy of
Art and Design, but Pnina Calpen, a spokeswoman for the Israeli school, did not
recognise the names of any Israelis mentioned as studying there in the past 10
years. A federal report into the so-called art students said many had served in
intelligence and electronic signal intercept units during their military
According to a 61-page
report, drafted after an investigation by the DEA and the US immigration
service, the Israelis were organised into cells of four to six people. The
significance of what the Israelis were doing didn't emerge until after
September 11, 2001, when a report by a French intelligence agency noted
"according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in
Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida, from December 2000
to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells".
The report contended that
Mossad agents were spying on Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehi, two of leaders
of the 9/11 hijack teams. The pair had settled in Hollywood, Florida, along with
three other hijackers, after leaving Hamburg---where another Mossad team was
operating close by.
Hollywood in Florida is a
town of just 25,000 souls. The French intelligence report says the leader of the
Mossad cell in Florida rented apartments "right near the apartment of Atta and
al-Shehi". More than a third of the Israeli "art students? claimed
residence in Florida. Two other Israelis connected to the art ring showed up in
Fort Lauderdale. At one time, eight of the hijackers lived just north of the
Put together, the facts do
appear to indicate that Israel knew that 9/11, or at least a large-scale terror
attack, was about to take place on American soil, but did nothing to warn the
USA. But that's not quite true. In August 2001, the Israelis handed over a
list of terrorist suspects---on it were the names of four of the September 11
hijackers. Significantly, however, the warning said the terrorists were planning
an attack "outside the United States".
The Israeli embassy in
Washington has dismissed claims about the spying ring as 'simply untrue".
The same denials have been issued repeatedly by the five Israelis seen high-fiving
each other as the World Trade Centre burned in front of them.
Their lawyer, Ram Horwitz,
insisted his clients were not intelligence officers. Irit Stoffer, the Israeli
foreign minister, said the allegations were "completely untrue". She said
the men were arrested because of "visa violations?, adding: 'the FBI
investigated those cases because of 9/11."
Jim Margolin, an FBI
spokesman in New York, implied that the public would never know the truth,
saying: "If we found evidence of unauthorised intelligence operations that
would be classified material." Yet, Israel has long been known, according to
US administration sources, for "conducting the most aggressive espionage
operations against the US of any US ally". Seventeen years ago, Jonathan
Pollard, a civilian working for the American Navy, was jailed for life for
passing secrets to Israel. At first, Israel claimed Pollard was part of a rogue
operation, but the government later took responsibility for his work.
It has always been a
long-accepted agreement among allies---such as Britain and America or America
and Israel---that neither country will jail a "friendly spy? nor shame the
allied country for espionage. Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Boston's
Political Research Associates and
an expert in intelligence, says: "It's a backdoor agreement between allies
that says that if one of your spies gets caught and didn't do too much harm,
he goes home. It goes on all the time. The official reason is always visa
What we are left with,
then, is fact sullied by innuendo. Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within
the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were
Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in
advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war
without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies
almost without limit? That's a conspiracy theory that goes too far, perhaps. But
in this age of spin and secrets, the
unpleasant feeling that we do not know the
full and unadulterated truth won't go away. Maybe we can guess, but it's for
the history books to discover and decide.
02 November 2003
"2003 Newsquest (Sunday Herald) Limited.
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