8/27/2005

UK Indymedia - THE ISRAELI ART STUDENTS AND MOVERS STORY

Lots of bits and pieces of info tied together in a conspiracy thread by Wayne Madsen. I don't believe his overall theory but some of the individual bits and pieces are accurate and right on the money and can tie Able Danger, Atta, Jewish Mossad and Abramoff in a "6 degree of separation web". Are they all related ? Probably not, but it is interesting to see the story has a lot more to it than it meets the eye... -- law

THE ISRAELI ART STUDENTS AND MOVERS STORY

Wayne Madsen | 17.08.2005 00:59
The presence in the United States of a number of young Israelis, most of whom had specialized military and intelligence backgrounds, in the months prior to 911 is a subject that has received inadequate attention from the major U.S. media and government investigators.

A very long and interesting read...comment from signs of the times editors

THE ISRAELI ART STUDENTS AND MOVERS STORY
By Wayne Madsen

The presence in the United States of a number of young Israelis, most of whom had specialized military and intelligence backgrounds, in the months prior to 911 is a subject that has received inadequate attention from the major U.S. media and government investigators.

The activities of the Israelis fell into two main areas: the casing of the offices and homes of Federal law enforcement officials, U.S. military bases, and other sensitive sites by Israeli "art students" during 2000 and 2001 and the unusual activities of Israeli "movers" around sensitive areas during and after 911. These incidents occurred in tandem with the suspiscious activities of other former Israeli military and intelligence officials in neighboring countries, including Canada and Mexico, after 911. In addition, a number of Israeli intelligence agents were apprehended abroad for passport violations and other illegal activities.

The possibility that the suspicious Israeli activity was linked to the movements of Al Qaeda cells cannot be brushed aside as merely coincidental. For example, a number of the Israelis arrested for suspicious activities involving selling bogus Israeli art and driving moving vans were concentrated in some of the same neighborhoods where a number of the 911 Saudi and other Arab hijackers lived and trained at flight schools.

Two internal U.S. government documents revealed that among the 120 Israeli "art students" who attempted to penetrate the security of dozens of Federal office buildings and who visited the homes of scores of U.S. law enforcement personnel during 2000 and 2001 were some who used addresses and mail drops in southern Florida and Texas near those used by a number of the 911 hijackers. The information came from a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Report drafted in June 2001 on the activities of the art students and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) list of the hijackers and other terrorist suspects, accidentally released in early October 2001 on a Finnish government web site. The DEA memo specifically stated that the Israelis may have had ties to an "Islamic fundamentalist group."

Vince Cannistraro, the former operations chief for counter-terrorism for the CIA, said that a search of the CIA's national intelligence database turned up some of the names of Israelis arrested in New Jersey. He said a number of people in the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Urban Moving was a Mossad operation and the Israelis were pursuing Islamist radicals in the New Jersey-New York area and particularly in Patterson, New Jersey. Pauline Stepkovich, who lived across the street from Urban Moving, told ABC News that FBI agents removed about a dozen boxes and computers, enough to fill up two SUVs. Cannistraro told ABC News that the FBI was concerned that the Israeli movers had some advanced knowledge of the 911 attacks but failed to warn the United States. "The fear of some of the FBI investigators in this particular case was that this group had some advanced knowledge of what was going to happen on 911. And once they understood there was an Israeli connection--an Israeli intelligence connection--they became very disturbed, because the implication was that the Israelis may have had some advanced knowledge of the events of 911 and hadn't told us," Cannistraro said.[27] Israeli intelligence foreknowledge about the 911 attacks was confirmed by two senior-level intelligence officials at the CIA and FBI.[28]

In Washington, Israeli embassy spokesman, Mark Regev, dismissed the espionage charges, claiming the excitement of the Israelis seeing the World Trade Center collapse was due to "youthful foolishness." [29] A lawyer for one of the Israelis said his client denied celebrating the terrorist attack on the Trade Center, however, after the FBI developed their film it clearly showed three of the Israelis on top of the van "smiling and clowning around" with the buildings burning in the background.[30] The evidence bolstered what Maria and Pat told the police and proved that the Israelis lied to the police when they claimed they were in Manhattan during the attack.

The Jewish weekly newspaper, The Forward, reported that a top U.S. government official told it, "The assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the Mossad and operatives employed by it… the conclusion of the FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs."[31] ABC 20/20 host Barbara Walters commented on how the story of the Israeli movers was received in the Arab world, "The story is that Israel knew more than it would like to admit about the terrorist attack in this country. It's a rumor, but in some Arab countries--including Saudi Arabia, which I visited earlier this year--even educated people told me that they believe it is absolutely true."[32]

Perhaps the young Israelis were only mirroring the feelings of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who when asked how the 911 attacks would affect U.S.-Israeli relations, said, "It's very good… Well, it's not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy for Israel from Americans."...

t is no coincidence that both Fox News and KHOU-TV had to pull down their web stories on the Israeli art students (based on the exposés in Intelligence Online and Le Monde, Fox began referring to its original December 2001 story on its web site). According to a number of Washington journalists, any time an article critical of Israel appears in the U.S. press, reporters and editors can expect to hear from a Boston-based group called the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America or "CAMERA." The Kafkaesque group makes no secret of its aggressive intimidation methods. Its web site states: "CAMERA systematically monitors, documents, reviews and archives Middle East coverage. Staffers directly contact journalists and publishers concerning distorted or inaccurate coverage… CAMERA members are encouraged to write letters both to the publication or network, and to the sponsors or advertisers… If corrections and improved coverage are not forthcoming, we publicize the faulty reporting and the journalist's refusal to admit error."

As an example, CAMERA cited a Washington Post story that refuted the legitimacy of the DEA's investigation and report on the Israeli art students. The story by reporters John Mintz and Dan Eggen questioned the motive behind the DEA's report by claiming, without offering any proof, that the agent who wrote it was disgruntled. Moreover, there was more than one author of the report. Apparently, CAMERA's "fact checkers" were only interested in checking out stories with which they disagreed or found embarrassing.

Neither the Washington Post nor CAMERA seemed all that much interested in a warning about the Israeli "art students" and their "aggressive" visits to the offices and homes of U.S. federal agents that was circulated in March, 2001 by the White House Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. The warning stated:

"In the past six weeks, employees in federal office buildings located throughout the United States have reported suspicious activities connected with individuals representing themselves as foreign students selling or delivering artwork. Employees have observed both males and females attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings.

If challenged, the individuals state that they are delivering artwork from a studio in Miami, Florida, called Universal Art, Inc., or that they are art students and are looking for opinions regarding their work. These individuals have been described as aggressive. They attempt to engage employees in conversation rather than giving a sales pitch.

Federal police officers have arrested two of these individuals for trespassing and discovered that the suspects possessed counterfeit work visas and green cards. These individuals have also gone to the private residences of senior federal officials under the guise of selling art."[34] ...

After the DEA Report was leaked, I met with a journalist colleague who was also covering the art student story and had high level contacts within the Justice Department and FBI. During our meeting at the Navy Memorial just across the street from the National Archives, he summed up the problem: the cover-up went right to the top and the primary culprits were John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The Israelis were described in the DEA Report and other security advisories as being part of an "organized intelligence gathering activity." According to the FBI list, the Arab terrorist and suspect cells lived in the same neighborhoods as the Israeli cells in Irving, Texas and Hollywood and Miami, Florida from Dec. 2000 to April 2001. In the case of Irving, the Israeli cell used a rental mailbox in a shopping center just one block away from an Arab suspect's apartment. In Hollywood, the terrorists, including lead hijacker Mohammad Atta, the Egyptian who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, used a rental mailbox drop two blocks from an apartment rented by an Israeli "art student" team leader.

If the Israelis were stalking the hijackers, they would have also likely known about their interest in the World Trade Center. Speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC on March 22, 2004, William Rodriguez, the President of the Hispanic Victims Group and a 20-year veteran employee of the World Trade Center, revealed that he spotted Mohand Al- Shehri (alias Mohammed al Shehhi), one of the terrorist hijackers of United Flight 175 that crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, two and a half months before September 11. Rodriguez said he saw Al-Shehri, a Saudi citizen, casing the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Rodriguez's comments were part of the press conference partly organized by family members of 911 victims. The family members were calling for a full accounting by members of both the Clinton and Bush administrations about what they knew about the Al Qaeda threat to hijack planes prior to 911.

Rodriguez was a building manager for the World Trade Center and he held the master key for the North Tower. He was the last survivor pulled by rescue workers from the rubble of the building after it collapsed.

Rodriguez said Al-Shehri asked him how many public bathrooms were in the building and, in retrospect, Rodriguez believed the terrorist was looking for ways to place additional explosives in the building prior to the airplane attack. Rodriguez also said as he was climbing the stairs to help rescue people after American Airlines Flight 11 struck his building he heard heavy equipment being moved around on the 34th floor, which was closed and locked for renovation. In the chaos, Rodriguez did not have time to open the doors to the 34th floor to find out who was there but he believed there might have been additional explosives placed inside the building. Rodriguez also claimed that while assisting evacuees he heard non-aircraft-related explosions coming from floors below his location on the 33rd floor. The former chief economist for the Bush Labor Department, Morgan Reynolds, believed the Bush administration's story about the World Trade Center collapse was "bogus." Reynolds, who was the director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas and later professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, opined that "if demolition destroyed three steel skyscrapers [the Twin Towers and Building 7] at the World Trade Center on 9/11, then the case for an 'inside job' and a government attack on America would be compelling." Reynolds added, "The government's collapse theory is highly vulnerable on its own terms. Only professional demolition appears to account for the full range of facts associated with the collapse of the three buildings."[37] [Note: As an engineer, I know this story of "planes couldn't topple the towers" is completely bogus. The fire could and did weaken the inner metal structure and made it possible for the towers to fall on their own weight -- law]


Yet another possible Israeli intelligence link to electronic eavesdropping on the U.S. government was unearthed in the questionable awarding by the U.S. Congress of a wireless contract to a company owned by Israel. In 2000, LGC Wireless, a San Jose, California-based firm was considered in the lead to provide wireless connectivity for the U.S. House of Representatives. A year earlier, the House Administration Committee, then headed by Republican Representative Bill Thomas of California, granted LGC authority to conduct a design and security survey of the Capitol. In addition, the FBI and NSA reviewed LGC's system design to ensure that foreign intelligence agencies could not penetrate the House's wireless network. By December 2000, LGC had cleared its plans with the Capitol Architect, the House Information Resource Office, and the House Administration Committee. However, soon a new Israeli company named Foxcom Wireless, which changed its name to MobileAccess, began making an end run to secure the Capitol wireless contract. The new chairman of the House Administration Committee, Republican Representative Bob Ney of Ohio, clearly favored MobileAccess over LGC and in 2002, the Israeli company received the House wireless contract. Ney had a close poltical and financial relationship with GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, an extreme pro- Israeli political insider, who came under Justice Department investigation for questionable ties to Ney and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. It was later revealed by The Washington Post that in 2001 MobileAccess donated $50,000 to the Capital Athletic Foundation, which was run by Abramoff. In 2004, MobileAccess paid $240,000 in lobbying fess to Greenberg Traurig, Abramoff's former firm. The ranking member on the House Administration Committee, Democratic Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said he was not kept fully informed of the wireless contract by either Thomas or Ney. LGC also cried foul when, in 2004, the U.S. Senate awarded MobileAccess a $3.9 million contract to install a wireless network for the Senate.[49] As with the questions surrounding Information Spectrum Inc. abruptly replacing Larimore Associates as the Jersey City Police Department computer system contractor, similar complaints were aired by LGC. Ian Sugarboard, LGC's CEO told The Hill newspaper, ". . . it appeared that lobbyists had exerted undue influence on the deal." In addition, the House Administration Committee did not specify what security criteria MobileAccess had to meet. The FBI and NSA had previously approved LGC's security countermeasures.[50]

Abramoff's strong connection to Israel and his influence in the Bush administration serve as yet another nexus between Israel, the Bush administration, and officials closely connected with Saudi Arabia. Top GOP adviser and Abramoff friend Grover Norquist, who was Abramoff's campaign manager when he ran for President of the College Republicans (a post also once held by Karl Rove), also maintained close links to a number of Saudis, some of whom were implicated in funding terrorism. Norquist was a cofounder of the Islamic Institute, co-located in Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform offices in Washington, DC. Norquist was a key player in the Bush 2000 outreach for Muslim and Arab voters. Sami al Arian, a University of South Florida professor, was an ardent supporter of Bush's Florida campaign to woo Muslim and Arab voters and his support likely helped tip the close election to Bush. The Islamic Institute was founded in 1999 with start up money from Kuwait; Qatar; other Arab countries; the founder of the American Muslim Council, Abdurahman Muhammad Al Amoudi; and two Islamic non-profits, the Safa Trust and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). In 2002, as part of Operation Greenquest, the FBI raided Safa and IIIT for their role in financing international terrorism. Another one of Al Amoudi's groups, the International Relief Organization, was suspected of laundering Saudi money to terrorist groups. Although Arian and Al Amoudi were later charged by the federal government with supporting terrorist groups, they maintained close ties to the Bush campaign. Just a few months before the 911 attacks, Arian attended a June 2001 White house briefing with Karl Rove. Suhail Khan, the White House point man for arranging access to Bush by prominent Muslim-Americans and a former director of the Islamic Institute, was the son of the late imam of the Santa Clara, California mosque. The mosque had once hosted Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, the second in command of Al Qaeda. Norquist and his friends were clearly part of a Saudi- and Wahhabi- funded political machine that sought to marginalize moderate Muslims in the United States. Agha Jafri, a Sh'ia leader in New York, said there was in the United States a Saudi "mafia" that was "intent on crushing moderate Sufi and Shiite Muslims in the United States."[51] In addition, Norquist's friend Al Amoudi was also discovered to have links to the 911 hijackers. German police files indicated that Al Amoudi met in the fall of 2000 Mohammed Belfas, an Islamic leader in Hamburg who once shared an apartment with Ramzi bin al- Shibh, a kingpin behind the 911 attacks. One of Belfas's colleagues, Agus Budiman, had accompanied Belfas on a scouting mission to Washington, DC in late 2000. Budiman pleaded guilty to helping Belfas obtain a phony identification card using a non-existent address in Arlington, Virginia. German police obtained a photograph from Belfas's Hamburg apartment showing a meeting between him, Budiman, and Al Amoudi in Al Amoudi's Arlington, Virginia office. [52]

UK Indymedia - THE ISRAELI ART STUDENTS AND MOVERS STORY

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