“A memorandum sent to the 9/11 Commission, and Senate and House intelligence committees in September 2004, suggests that young Israelis who canvassed dozens of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) offices in 2000 and 2001 trying to sell paintings to federal workers, may have been spying not only on the DEA, but also on Arab extremists in the United States including the Sept. 11 hijackers who were living in Florida and New Jersey.”
The author of this memorandum [.pdf] is Gerald Shea, a retired corporate lawyer. Shea an alumnus of Phillips Academy, Yale (1964), and Columbia Law School was associated for many years with one of New York’s most prominent law firms, in New York and Paris, and his memo reads like a lawyer’s brief: it is written with the same meticulous attention to details of time and place, and with a lawyerly regard for maintaining a high standard of evidence.
Shea comes to substantially the same conclusion that I did in a series of columns I started writing in late December 2001, the substance of which is contained in a short book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection: that the Israelis were engaged in spying on U.S. soil in the months leading up to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that these agents were concentrated in the two areas where the 9/11 hijackers lived and planned their atrocities Hollywood, Fla., and two counties in New Jersey, Bergen and Hudson and that they did not share all they knew about preparations for the attack with U.S. authorities. Shea writes:
“Why the Israeli government decided not to share with us all the critical information they had, and the extent of that information, is a subject for the public inquiry. They may have thought some sort of warning prudent in the event their surveillance activities later became a matter of public knowledge. But any energetic Israeli effort to assist the United States in preventing the attacks would not have served their strategic interest, in view of the disastrous effect those attacks were likely to have on the relationships between the United States and the Arab world. As a leader of the Israeli New Jersey Group said when he was arrested on the afternoon of September 11, ‘We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems.'”
Students of this subject will not be surprised by much of what is contained in the Shea memorandum, but there are significant new details unearthed by Shea’s research and his thoroughness, particularly in tracing the parallel movements of the 9/11 hijackers (and their known associates) and the Israelis. Shea shows the Israelis had the means, the motive, and the physical proximity to track the hijackers’ movements and intercept the details of their plans. Of particular interest is how some of the hijackers came to be put on the FBI’s watch list too late to do any good, but in time to provide the Israelis with a cover story if their shadowing activities came to light which suggests a cover-up of major proportions.
The “Able Danger” data-mining operation that supposedly uncovered the New Jersey cell of the 9/11 plotters was for some reason yet to be determined blocked and prevented from apprehending key figures in the plot, according to the testimony of at least three people who have direct knowledge of this matter. Shea’s memo opens up a possibility that may relate to (and explain) the “Able Danger” blockage: was surveillance of Arab terrorist groups in the U.S. subcontracted out to the Israelis, with the knowledge and complicity of the CIA, so that “Able Danger” was considered poaching on the Israelis’ preserve? Shea cites a piece in The Forward that describes Israeli covert activities in the U.S. as a violation of “a secret gentleman’s agreement between the two countries,” and avers:
“The real question today, however, appears to be whether the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ did indeed prevail here and, because we lacked adequate warning from our surrogates who were keeping the Arabs under surveillance, helped bring us to disaster.”
Discussion of this subject is, of course, considered a hate crime: I was attacked by David Frum and others for even raising the question of Israeli foreknowledge although, tellingly, Frum never mentioned the Fox News four-part series by Carl Cameron that brought this story to widespread public attention. What could he say, after all that Fox News is a bastion of liberal bias, and prejudiced against Israel? I don’t think so.
Of particular interest are the various appendices. The DEA report on the “Israeli art students” has been public for some time, but readers will find Exhibit B very informative: this lists the various hijackers according to their geographical locations in one column and the Israeli agents detained and deported or otherwise identified in the other. The maps at the end of the memo show this correlation in graphic terms: the effect is shocking. Whether shocking enough to shake the 9/11 Commission and our government officials out of their torpor remains to be seen. It brings home, visually, the significance of the following bit of dialogue cited by Shea between Brit Hume and Cameron at the conclusion of their first broadcast on the Israeli spy operation:
Hume: “What about this question of advanced knowledge of what was going to happen on September 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?”
Indeed. Now go read the whole thing