by Justin Raimondo
In late November, the Washington Post ran a story that stopped me dead in my tracks: 60 Israelis on Tourist Visas Detained Since Sept. 11, but it was the subhead that really got my attention: "Government Calls Several Cases 'of Special Interest,' Meaning Related to Post-Attacks Investigation." In addition to the 1000-plus Middle Easterners of the Muslim persuasion swept up in Ashcroft's post-9/11 dragnet, it seems, some 60 Israelis were in custody. And these were no ordinary tourists: INS officials testified in immigration court hearings that this group was "of special interest to the government" v the same argument used to justify the detention of Arabs in connection with the investigation into 9/11. Shortly thereafter, in a column dated 11/28/01, I asked: "What, exactly, is the meaning of this?" Today, I am relieved to note, the rest of the media is finally catching up to Antiwar.com and asking the same question.
THE ISRAELI ANGLE
While my own answer has developed over at least half a dozen subsequent columns, the core of my thesis has remained essentially unchanged. As I put it:
"As long as 60 Israeli citizens are being held v under conditions of great secrecy v in connection with the 9/11 investigation, it is no longer tenable to dismiss the possibility of an Israeli angle in this story."
The Post story went on to describe the Israeli detainees as having served in special anti-terrorist and intelligence units. "Something tells me these guys are no ordinary tourists," I averred. While "we just don't know" because of the secrecy surrounding the government's actions, I thought that the whole point of the Ashcroft round-up was not only to sweep up potential suspects but to gather information that could lead them to Al Qaeda's underground network in the US. Therefore, I theorized,
"It could be that the Israelis, or at least some of them, fall into this category: while not being directly involved, maybe they know something. Nothing else could account for the government's 'special interest.'"
A TRAIL OF CLUES
The suggestion of an Israeli connection to the events surrounding 9/11 did not spring, full blown, like Minerva from the head of Zeus. It had been hovering in the background, implied in odd accounts such as the one about the group of Israelis picked by the FBI after they were spotted in Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, laughing and giving each other high-fives as the World Trade Center burned on the other side of the river. In an astonishing story in the Bergen Record, we learn that 5 men described as "Israeli tourists," were picked up 8 hours after the WTC attack, "carrying maps linking them to the blasts." "Sources close to the investigation said they found other evidence linking the men to the bombing plot. "There are maps of the city in the car with certain places highlighted," the source said. "It looked like they're hooked in with this. It looked like they knew what was going to happen when they were at Liberty State Park."According to this account, the 5 "tourists" had been picked up by local police after receiving the following alert from the FBI:
"Vehicle possibly related to New York terrorist attack. White, 2000 Chevrolet van with New Jersey registration with 'Urban Moving Systems' sign on back seen at Liberty State Park, Jersey City, NJ, at the time of first impact of jetliner into World Trade Center. Three individuals with van were seen celebrating after initial impact and subsequent explosion. FBI Newark Field Office requests that, if the van is located, hold for prints and detain individuals."
Then there was the story about the two employees of the Odigo Company, an Israeli-based "instant-messaging" software company, with New York offices in the vicinity of the WTC, who received messages in the hours before disaster struck that the World Trade Center would be hit. I was so skeptical of this report, published in Ha'aretz, an Israeli daily newspaper, that I wrote the author: he confirmed the contents of these mysterious missives and cited his sources. In this context, the Washington Post story fit into an eerie pattern: it was not the final but the definitive piece of the puzzle: the piece that, once found and put in place, evokes an exclamation of "so that's what it is!" I was alone, at the time, in raising the possibility of an Israeli angle to the story of 9/11 v but not for long.
On December 11, Fox News ran the first of a four-part series by Carl Cameron that offered yet more evidence to support my contention that the Israelis had some rather specific foreknowledge of the 9/11 atrocity. Citing sources in law enforcement, Cameron dropped a bombshell:
"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 -quote v'tie-ins.' But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, v quote v '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 has learned that one group of Israelis, spotted in North Carolina recently, is suspected of keeping an apartment in California to spy on a group of Arabs who the United States is also investigating for links to terrorism."
The detained Israelis, reported Cameron, had been part of a vast spy operation that had very possibly been tracking the hijackers, and had both the means and the opportunity to discover the terrorist plot. Over four nights, he detailed extensive Israeli penetration of US defense and government facilities revealed in the documents of a secret task force within the government that has been collecting evidence on this case since the early 1990s.