9/11: WHAT DID ISRAEL KNOW?

by , October 05, 2002

Israel had foreknowledge of 9/11 – that was Carl Cameron’s explosive contention, made last year in a blockbuster series of reports on Fox News exposing an Israeli spy ring in the U.S. New evidence confirms his story – and points to a rather ominous conclusion….

Reporting the round-up and deportation of scores of Israeli agents – masquerading as “art students” – Cameron noted last December that several were “active Israeli military” and the rest had skills that one normally associates with spies: electronic interception, explosives, and special operations. Several failed polygraph tests when asked if they were engaged in “surveillance activities against and in the United States.” Aside from trying to penetrate U.S. government facilities, this network, which went into high gear in the months prior to 9/11, was also watching the Al Qaeda terrorists, according to Cameron:

“There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are – quote – ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, – quote – ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.'”

This was denied up and down by the U.S. and Israeli governments, and the story was derided as an “urban myth,” denounced as an “anti-Semitic” canard, and subsequently banished from the pages of the “mainstream” media. But evidence began to pile up: reports of hundreds of Israelis descending on U.S. government facilities, and a massive round-up of these operatives claiming to be “art students,” began to leak out.

The story refused to die. A secret government report (originating with the Drug Enforcement Agency) detailing the highly suspicious activities of these aspiring Israeli “artists” was subsequently uncovered, and a series of stories appeared in the international media: Le Monde, the British media, and then leaping across the Atlantic. An excellent article in Salon, by Christopher Ketcham, and wire stories detailing the leaked contents of the DEA report raised awareness of a possible Israeli connection to the events surrounding 9/11.

I’ve been covering this since November of last year, when I noticed a story in the Washington Post reporting the detention of some 60 Israelis under the same legal rubric as the Arabs being held on suspicion of terrorist connections. These guys, said the Justice Department lawyers, were of “special interest” to the government; and, as their role in the events leading up to 9/11 begins to come into clearer focus, I can see why…..

A report in Die Zeit, a German newspaper, outlining the glitches and outright obstructionism that led to the greatest intelligence failure in our history reveals a stunning bit of information. The BBC reports:

“The paper has uncovered details of a major Israeli spy ring involving some a 120 agents for the intelligence service Mossad operating across America and some masquerading as arts students.”

The Israeli “art student” story has come a long way since the days when it could be airily dismissed: the whitewashers have been forced back to their second line of defense, which is admitting that, yes, there was an Israeli spy ring in the U.S., but they had no foreknowledge of 9/11. That was the conclusion reached by a recent article in the Forward, as well as an ABC News report, “The White Van.” But the latest revelation goes further:

“The ring was reportedly hard on the heels of at least four members of the hijack gang, including its leader Mohammed Atta.”

The whitewashers, it seems, have retreated to their third line of defense, as iterated by the BBC:

“But the Israeli agents were detected by their American counterparts and thrown out of the country, it says. The US authorities said then that they were students whose visas had expired.

“Just a month before the deadly attacks, the paper said, Mossad handed over to the Americans a detailed report naming several suspects they believe were preparing an attack on the United States.”

So the Mossad has an alibi, after all. Or maybe not. For, according to these same reports, including one in Der Spiegel:

“An entire troop of Israeli terror investigators disguised as students took to the tracks of Arabic terrorists and their cells in the USA between December 2000 and April 2001. During their undercover investigations, the Israelis came very close to the later perpetrators of September 11. In Hollywood, Florida they located both of the former Hamburg students and later terrorist pilots Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi as potential terrorists. Agents settled down in immediate proximity of their apartment and observed the seemingly normal flight school students around the clock.”

So they were living next door to the terrorists, including the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, watching their every move – but didn’t tell us what they were up to until August, 2001.

The list turned over to the FBI by the Israelis apparently contained the names of at least four of the nineteen hijackers, but the warning was non-specific: only that these were potential terrorists. It stretches the bounds of credulity to believe that, after observing them up close for an extended period of time – and perhaps monitoring them in other ways – the Israelis knew no more than this.

The DEA report names South Florida, and specifically Hollywood, a small city near Ft. Lauderdale, as the nexus of the Israeli “art student” spy ring: “The Hollywood, Florida area seems to be a central point for these individuals with several having addresses in this area.” The DEA investigators also noted that a whole platoon of these characters, including the leaders, were apprehended in the South Florida area from March to May, 2001. Prior to 9/11, the authorities had detained 140 of them nationwide: and they were still rounding them up, some 60 more, after the event.

So if the Israelis had decided, in August, to come clean with the information they had, then why were federal agents still arresting and detaining our “partners” in the “war on terrorism” in late November and early December? The DEA report also shows that the South Florida operation was active since at least January, perhaps earlier: plenty of time and opportunity to gather more than vague inferences as to the terrorists’ intentions.

But the spin put on this by Die Zeit and Der Spiegel is that if only those stupid Americans had listened to their friends, the Mossad, 9/11 would never have happened. The latter avers that no sooner had the Mossad located Atta and his crew, then the ungrateful Americans acted in their typically pig-headed and even vindictive manner:

“Yet soon after, the agents were unmasked by US authorities and deported to Israel. As usual in such cases, the exposure was not made public and only led to disgruntlement between the traditionally competitive intelligence agencies Mossad and CIA. This case proves once again that even in concretely dangerous situations, the US agents were not obliged to cooperate, instead opting to antagonize each other.”

This case proves nothing of the sort. What it does prove is 1) that those of us who identified the Israeli “art students” as part of a spy operation in the U.S. were absolutely correct, 2) that the Israelis were not only conducting covert operations against U.S. government facilities but were also watching the hijackers very closely, and 3) that some people will go to any lengths to avoid considering some very unpleasant and politically explosive possibilities.

It is possible that the Israelis were doing more than merely watching the hijackers. As Mohammed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi went back and forth between Huffman Aviation, a flight school in nearby Venice, and their Hollywood apartment, what were the Mossad agents next door doing – and why did they wait until August, after their operation had been discovered and busted up, to share this vital information?

But Der Spiegel knows better than to implicate the Israelis in anything untoward, and instead mournfully reports that “observation of the … terrorists also ceased” when the “art students” were apprehended. But if the information had been shared then and there – in March, when the authorities first became aware of the Hollywood-centered South Florida operation – then what prevented the FBI from taking up where the Mossad had left off? Der Spiegel is vague about this:

“The Israelis’ list with at least four of the 19 assassins from September 11 was apparently not handled by the CIA with the necessary urgency, nor was it forwarded to the FBI. Fact is that the US authorities did not efficiently follow up on the Israeli agents’ leads. Information on the Israeli tips has also been made known in the USA during the [Senate intelligence committee 9/11 hearings], which [have] been ongoing for weeks.”

While the FBI is scapegoated for its alleged inefficiency, the Israelis were not exactly forthcoming. On March 3, 2001, alerted to the Israeli “art student” invasion, the Orlando office of the DEA took one Peer Segalovitz into custody, and interrogated him for four hours. According to the DEA report:

“Segalovitz was untruthful about his reasoning to be in the United States for approximately the first 3 hours. Segalovitz finally admitted that he was one of approximately 30 Israeli art students who are currently in Florida. Segalovitz would not admit what their purpose was in Florida, but did state that they were not here for legitimate means.”

A 27-year-old officer of the Israeli special military forces, attached to the 650th battalion stationed in the Golan Heights, Segalovitz gave his rank (Lieutenant) and serial number (5087989) and said that he “specialized in demolition.” After recounting his familiarity with military operations, and stating “that the only thing he was not trained to operate was military aircraft,” he “asked agents not to divulge this information to Israel because it would lead to his immediate arrest in Israel.”

If it’s true, as Der Spiegel avers, that the distinguished members of the Senate Committee investigating 9/11 are pinning the blame on our own intelligence agencies and exonerating the role of the Mossad, one can only wonder why they don’t call Mr. Segalovitz as an expert witness?

And while they’re at it, they might also call for the extradition from Israel of two people named on the FBI’s terrorist suspect list: Dominik Suter and Ornit Levinson Suter, who fled when their Urban Moving Systems office and warehouse was raided by the police. Four employees of this New Jersey-based firm had been arrested on 9/11, hours after the attacks, when they were seen cheering as the World Trade Towers burned. They were held for months, and then deported. Even Barbara Walters’ whitewash of this incident admitted that Urban Moving Systems was undoubtedly a Mossad front.

I deal with this subject at length in my forthcoming book, The Terror Enigma, to be published by Verso Books sometime next year. Suffice to say here that the Israeli role in the events leading up to 9/11 is, at best, highly suspicious. Certainly the news that their agents were close neighbors of Mohammed Atta and an accomplice leads to some disturbing juxtapositions.

Did the “art students” stand behind the terrorists in line at the local supermarket? Did they bump into each other in the street – and what, pray tell, did these dedicated Al Qaeda cadre think of a group of Israelis living in such close proximity?

In considering the mystery of how the Mossad and Al Qaeda came to be next door neighbors, I am reminded of this little exchange between Brit Hume and Carl Cameron at the end of their December 11 broadcast:

HUME: “Carl, what about this question of advanced knowledge of what was going to happen on 9-11? How clear are investigators that some Israeli agents may have known something?”

CAMERON: “It’s very explosive information, obviously, and there’s a great deal of evidence that they say they have collected – none of it necessarily conclusive. It’s more when they put it all together. A bigger question, they say, is how could they not have known?”

Inquiring minds want to know….

Read more by Justin Raimondo