The Shadow War

On Jan. 17, the Cryptome Web site posted a remarkable document that affords us a glimpse inside the secret war now taking place all around us. I refer, of course, to the war on terrorism, which, we’ve all been informed, will be a “generational” struggle, the outcome of which is uncertain – and, what’s more, its history is fated to remain in the shadows until long after it’s all over. But the Cryptome document – consisting of “morning brief” reports issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) covering sporadic episodes from Sept. 26, 2003 to Jan. 16, 2004 – gives us access to the raw unvarnished truth. It also permits entry, albeit briefly, into a strange twilit world, where that barely noticeable shadow over there in the corner could be as insignificant as it seems – or could turn into a deadly menace.

Some of the entries are silly:

8. (FOUO) WASHINGTON: Suspicious Individual. According to a concerned citizen, on 19 December, in Seattle, a possible Middle Eastern male approached the reporting individual, who was holding a yard sale. The individual asked about laptop computers with high speed capabilities and walkie talkies, stating he wished to purchase them for his friends overseas. The reporting citizen also noted that the individual had difficulty with driving; and understanding denominations of U.S. currency. (Concerned Citizen; HSOC 4824-04)”

Others are ominous:

1. (FOUO) FLORIDA: ICE Agents Arrest Weapons Trafficker with Possible Ties to Terrorist Groups. According to ICE reporting, on 28 September, in Miami, ICE agents arrested a named individual for violations of the Arms Export Control Act. The named individual has been under investigation for his involvement with a South Florida-based weapons trafficking organization with alleged ties to several terrorist groups. Reportedly, the named individual was a primary supplier of ammunition and weapons to those terrorist organizations. (ICE Daily Summary Report, 28 Sep 04; HSOC 3628-04)”

But this one is just plain baffling:

6. (FOUO) ISRAEL: Citizen of Israel Subject of TIPOFF and TSA No Fly has Visa Revoked on January 3. According to BTS reporting on 5 January, Samuel COHEN (DOB: 07/20/1969) arrived at LAX on COPA airlines from Lima, Peru, seeking admission as a visitor for pleasure. At LAX, the CT Watch determined that COHEN was a TIPOFF and NO FLY match. Close coordination resulted in the Department of State (DOS) revoking COHEN’s visa on the spot. As a result of this revocation, COHEN was found to not be in possession of proper documents and was processed for an Expedited Removal. He is scheduled to depart 5 January, from the United States on COPA airlines flight CM303. (BTS Daily Operations Report, 5 Jan 05, HSOC 0033-05)”

There are several odd features to this entry. To begin with, why is a citizen of Israel being flagged as a potential terrorist? The “Tip Off” system is a database that, according to the State Department, contains the names of over 100,000 potential terrorists. Most if not all of the individuals named in the Cryptome document who were stopped in transit and either detained or deported have Arabic-sounding names, and their affiliations are cited as Hezbollah, or some other Muslim group. What terrorist affiliation does Mr. Cohen have – and why did the State Department step in and revoke his visa “on the spot”?

Israeli espionage operations conducted in the U.S. are not unknown. There is the infamous case of Jonathan Pollard, whose betrayal of U.S. secrets led to the execution of an unknown but not small number of American agents inside the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. There is the more recent case involving the America Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and a Pentagon analyst by the name of Larry Franklin, in addition to the Fox News reports of December 2001, by Carl Cameron, which detailed an extensive Israeli spy network in this country and began with this startling assertion:

“Since Sept. 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new PATRIOT anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States.

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

It turned out 200 Israelis were caught up in a post-9/11 sweep and later deported. Some were detained for months and underwent intensive interrogation. I have covered this neglected aspect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their aftermath extensively in this space, and even written a short book on the subject, but never have I said or meant to imply that the Israelis were directly involved in terrorist activities, including the 9/11 attacks. I have only been willing to go as far as Cameron and Fox News did, back in the winter of 2001, to the effect that the Israelis knew a lot more about the events leading up to 9/11 than they ever told us.

What, then, is the meaning of this preemptive interception of Mr. Cohen, who is apparently on a terrorist watchlist, and whose arrival in the U.S. prompted the State Department to intervene rather quickly? Last year around this time, UPI’s Richard Sale came out with this somewhat disturbing bit of news – which may help put the DHS brief on Mr. Cohen in perspective.

I have been saying for quite a while now that the “war on terrorism,” in which “you’re either with us, or against us,” as our president puts it, is a lot more complicated than that – it is, at the very least, a three-sided conflict. On the surface, it appears as though Israel is our gallant little ally, and is right there in the trenches next to us as we fight off wave after wave of jihad-maddened Muslim terrorists. But this glimpse into the shadowy underworld monitored daily by our frontline fighters in the real war on terrorism implies quite a different story.

Another piece in the puzzle falls into place…

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].