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What did Israel know in advance of the 9/11 attacks?

What did Israel know in advance of the 9/11 attacks?

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Published by maasanova
Seminal article documenting Israeli espionage and the FOX News Carl Cameron report on Israeli involvment in the 9/11 attacks.
Seminal article documenting Israeli espionage and the FOX News Carl Cameron report on Israeli involvment in the 9/11 attacks.

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Published by: maasanova on Jun 23, 2010
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09/10/2010

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CounterPunch
 Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair 
Tells the Facts and Names the Names
VOL. 14, NO. 3/42007, 3 & 4 of 22 issues.
$2.50
O
n the afternoon of September 11,2001, an FBI bulletin known asa BOLO – “be on lookout” – was issued with regard to three sus- picious men who that morning wereseen leaving the New Jersey waterfrontminutes after the first plane hit WorldTrade Center 1. Law enforcement of-ficers across the New York-New Jerseyarea were warned in the radio dispatchto watch for a “vehicle possibly relatedto New York terrorist attack”:
White, 2000 Chevrolet van…with ‘Urban Moving Systems’sign on back seen at LibertyState Park, Jersey City, NJ, atthe time of first impact of jet-liner into World Trade Center…Three individuals with vanwere seen celebrating afterinitial impact and subsequentexplosion. FBI Newark FieldOffice requests that, if the vanis located, hold for prints anddetain individuals.
What Did Israel Know inAdvance of the 9/11 Attacks?
At 3:56 p.m
.
, twenty-five minutesafter the issuance of the FBI BOLO,officers with the East Rutherford PoliceDepartment stopped the commercialmoving van through a trace on the plates.According to the police report, Officer Scott DeCarlo and Sgt. Dennis Rivelliapproached the stopped van, demand-ing that the driver exit the vehicle. Thedriver, 23-year-old Sivan Kurzberg,refused and “was asked several moretimes [but] appeared to be fumblingwith a black leather fanny pouch typeof bag”. With guns drawn, the policethen “physically removed” Kurzberg,while four other men – two more menhad apparently joined the group sincethe morning – were also removed fromthe van, handcuffed, placed on the grassmedian and read their Miranda rights.They had not been told the reasons for their arrest. Yet, according to DeCarlo’sreport, “this officer was told withoutquestion by the driver [Sivan Kurzberg],
Cheering Movers and Art Student Spies 
• Who Were the Israelis Living Next toMohammed Atta?• What was in the Van on the New JerseyShore?• How did Two Hijackers Land on Watch ListWeeks Before 9/11?• Who Shut Down Fox News’ Carl Cameron?
B
y
C
hristopher
K
etCham
Ketcham’s story
cont. on page 2 col one)
Ketcham’s Story
B
y
a
lexander
C
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Burn
& J
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cross these ten pages runs a sober,carefully reported narrative by a well-respected reporter, Chris-topher Ketcham. He’s a journalistwhom publications such as
 Harper’s
 and Salon.com have been happy to publish. Indeed, it was in May of 2002 that Salon published a 9,000-word story by Ketcham on the so-called Israeli “art students” whosecurious activities before 9/11/2001,around U.S. government offices andin locations in many cases identicalto those frequented by the 9/11 hi- jackers, had been the subject of muchspeculation.In the fall of 2005 Ketcham ranacross a short report in the
 Philadel- phia Times-Herald 
about a 166-pagememorandum written by a retiredcorporate lawyer named GeraldShea. The memo, which Shea sentto the 9/11 Commission and the rel-evant Senate and House intelligencecommittees, reviewed all publiclyknown information about the activi-ties of possible Israeli intelligenceoperatives working in New Jersey,Florida and elsewhere, and posed thequestions: how much had the Mossadlearned about the hijackers’ plans;what had they divulged to the agen-cies of the U.S. government ?These are not questions likely toreceive an enthusiastic reception inthe U.S. press or in Congress. Shea’smemo, which he sent to many major news outlets, received almost no cov-erage aside from that tiny story in the
 Philadelphia Times-Herald 
(written,
Israeli spies
cont. on page 2 col three)
 
2/C
ounter
P
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Editors
A
lexAnder
C
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J
effrey
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Assistant Editor
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Counselor
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Published twice monthly except onein July & one in August, 22 issues ayear
CounterPunch
.All rights reserved.
CounterPunchPO Box 228Petrolia, CA 955581-800-840-3683 (phone)counterpunch@counterpunch.org
‘We are Israeli. We are not your problem.Your problems are our problems. ThePalestinians are the problem.’” Another of the five Israelis, again without prompt-ing, told Officer DeCarlo – falsely – that“we were on the West Side Highway in New York City during the incident”.From inside the vehicle the officers,who were quickly joined by agents fromthe FBI, retrieved multiple passportsand $4,700 in cash stuffed in a sock.According to New Jersey’s
 Bergen Rec-ord 
, which on September 12 reportedthe arrest of the five Israelis, an inves-tigator high up in the Bergen Countylaw enforcement hierarchy stated thatofficers had also discovered in the ve-hicle “maps of the city … with certain places highlighted. It looked like they’rehooked in with this”, the source told the
 Record 
, referring to the 9/11 attacks. “Itlooked like they knew what was goingto happen when they were at LibertyState Park.”The five men were indeed Israelicitizens. They claimed to be in thecountry working as movers for UrbanMoving Systems Inc., which maintaineda warehouse and office in Weehawken, New Jersey. They were held for 71 daysin a federal detention center in Brooklyn, New York, during which time they wererepeatedly interrogated by FBI and CIAcounterterrorism teams, who referred tothe men as the “high-fivers” for their celebratory behavior on the New Jerseywaterfront. Some were placed in soli-tary confinement for at least forty days;some were given as many as seven lie-detector tests. One of the Israelis, PaulKurzberg, brother of Sivan, refused totake a lie-detector test for ten weeks.Then he failed it.Meanwhile, two days after the menwere picked up, the owner of UrbanMoving Systems, Dominik Suter, a 31-year-old Israeli national, abandoned his business and fled the United States for Israel. Suter’s departure was abrupt,leaving behind coffee cups, sandwiches,cell phones and computers strewn onoffice tables and thousands of dollars of goods in storage. Suter was later placedon the same FBI suspect list as 9/11 leadhijacker Mohammed Atta and other hi- jackers and suspected al-Qaeda sympa-thizers, suggesting that U.S. authoritiesfelt Suter may have known something
Israeli spies
continued from page 1)
it should be noted, by Keith Phucas,who broke the Able Danger story).After reading Shea’s full memo,Ketcham went back to the leads andsources he’d developed for the earlier  piece that he’d done for 
Salon
. By May2006 he’d completed an 11,000-wordreport for 
Salon
. One hour before it wasdue to go up on
Salon’ 
s site, the storywas killed. The word from inside
Salon
 is that the top editors suddenly decidedthat there was nothing newsworthyabout Ketcham’s report.Anyone familiar with the verbalsmokescreens sent up by a publicationkilling a story knows well two standard ploys: one is the last-minute asser-tion, often after weeks of enthusiasticeditorial preparation, that “there’sreally nothing new here”, that “it’s anold story”. The other is that the factsare so explosive, so fresh, that unusu-ally explicit corroboration is required,demanding the reporter get multiplenamed sources and so forth.
Salon’ 
s
 
editors obviously decidedthat an exposé with words like “Israelispies” and “9/11” in the same headlinewas just too hot to handle. But in thatcase why wait to the last minute, after long hours of editorial work preparingthe story for publication? They prob-ably didn’t like to admit to themselvesthat were just not prepared to take heatfor the story and that they simply gotcold feet.Ketcham took the story to a number of other magazines and got nowhere.Then, in the late summer of 2006 hetook it to the
 Nation
, whose editorssaid that yes, they wanted the story, butwouldn’t schedule it till after the crushof political coverage in the run-up to the November elections. The target publi-cation date was December 8. At the lastminute, the
 Nation
pulled the piece.When we first read it, we felt – andstill feel – somewhat baffled at thedifficulty this piece had in getting published. This is a report that dealswith substantiated events that demandexplanation, starting with the van onthe New Jersey shore and the Israeliswho were seen cheering as the planescrashed into the towers, and who on theafternoon of 9/11 were arrested follow-ing an FBI alert.It is not as though Ketcham isalone in probing the background andactivities of the celebrating Israelis.That has been the topic of a fine piece of investigation published in
The Forward 
in 2002.
The
 
 Forward’ 
s sensationaldiscoveries were studiously ignored bythe press. (“Old story….”, “unsubstan-tiated”…) Similarly, the saga of the “artstudents” has been the object of carefulinvestigation and broadcast pieces byFox News’ Carl Cameron.Yes, when it comes to Israel and theU.S. press we are familiar with obstruc-tions to raising edgy topics. That’s whywe’re glad we have CounterPunch, towelcome good reporters like Ketchamin from the cold. CP.
Ketcham’s story
continued from page 1)
“This officer was told without ques- tion by the driver [Sivan Kurzberg], ‘We are Israeli. We are not your problem.Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.’” 
 
3/C
ounter
P
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about the attacks. The suspicion, as theinvestigation unfolded, was that the menworking for Urban Moving Systemswere spies. Who exactly was handlingthem, and who or what they were target-ing, was as yet uncertain.It was New York’s venerable Jew-ish weekly
The Forward 
that broke thisstory in the spring of 2002, after monthsof footwork.
The
 
 Forward 
reported thatthe FBI had finally concluded that atleast two of the men were agents work-ing for the Mossad, the Israeli intel-ligence agency, and that Urban MovingSystems, the ostensible employer of thefive Israelis, was a front operation. Twoformer CIA officers confirmed this tome, noting that movers’ vans are a com-mon intelligence cover.
The
 
 Forward 
 also noted that the Israeli governmentitself admitted that the men were spies.A “former high-ranking American in-telligence official”, who said he was“regularly briefed on the investigationedge”, according to Cannistraro.A second former CIA counterter-rorism officer who closely followedthe case, but who spoke on conditionof anonymity, told me that investiga-tors were pursuing two theories. “Onestory was that [the Israelis] appeared atLiberty State Park very quickly after thefirst plane hit. The other was that theywere at the park location already”. Ei-ther way, investigators wanted to knowexactly what the men were expectingwhen they got there.Before such issues had been fullyexplored, however, the investigation wasshut down. Following what ABC Newsreported were “high-level negotiations between Israeli and U.S. government of-ficials”, a settlement was reached in thecase of the five Urban Moving Systemssuspects. Intense political pressure ap- parently had been brought to bear. Thereputable Israeli daily
 Ha’aretz 
reportedthat by the last week of October 2001,about Islamic terrorism as well as itslong history of spying on U.S. soil,this does not come entirely as a shock.What’s incendiary is the idea – sup- ported, though not proven, by several pieces of evidence – that the Israelis didlearn something about 9/11 in advance but failed to share all of what they knewwith American officials. The questionsare disturbing enough to warrant a Con-gressional investigation.Yet none of this information foundits way into Congress’s joint committeereport on the attacks, and it was not eventangentially referenced in the nearly600 pages of the 9/11 Commission’sfinal report. Nor would a single major media outlet track the revelations of 
The
 
 Forward 
and ABC News to investigatefurther. “There weren’t even stories say-ing it was bullshit”, says
The
 
 Forward 
’sPerelman. “Honestly, I was surprised”.Instead, the story disappeared into thewelter of anti-Israel 9/11 conspiracytheories.It’s no small boon to the U.S. govern-ment that the story of 9/11-related Israeliespionage has been thus relegated: thestory doesn’t fit in the clean lines of theofficial narrative of the attacks. It bringsup concerns not only about Israel’s ob-ligation not to spy inside the borders of the United States, its major benefactor, but about its possible failure to have provided the U.S. adequate warningof an impending devastating attack onAmerican soil.Furthermore, the available evidenceundermines the carefully cultivatedimage of sanctity that defines the U.S.-Israel relationship. These are all factorsthat help explain the story’s disappear-ance – and they are compelling reasonsto revisit it now.
t
orpedoing
 
the
fBip
roBe
All five future hijackers of AmericanAirlines Flight 77, which rammed thePentagon, maintained addresses or wereactive within a six-mile radius of townsassociated with the Israelis employedat Urban Moving Systems. Hudson andBergen counties, the areas where theIsraelis were allegedly conducting sur-veillance, were a central staging groundfor the hijackers of Flight 77 and their fellow al-Qaeda operatives. MohammedAtta maintained a mail-drop address
In the months before 9/11, Israel was running an active spy network in- side the United States, with Muslim extremists as the target.
some six weeks after the men had beendetained, Deputy Secretary of StateRichard Armitage and two unidentified“prominent New York congressmen”were lobbying heavily for their release.According to a source at ABC Newsclose to the
20/20
report, high-profilecriminal lawyer Alan Dershowitz alsostepped in as a negotiator on behalf of the men to smooth out differences withthe U.S. government. (Dershowitz de-clined to comment for this article.) Andso, at the end of November 2001, for reasons that only noted they had beenworking in the country illegally as mov-ers, in violation of their visas, the menwere flown home to Israel.Today, the crucial questions raised by this matter remain unanswered. Thereis sufficient reason – from news reports,statements by former intelligence of-ficials, an array of circumstantial evi-dence, and the reported acknowledgment by the Israeli government – to believethat in the months before 9/11, Israel wasrunning an active spy network inside theUnited States, with Muslim extremistsas the target. Given Israel’s concerns by two separate law enforcement offi-cials”, told reporter Marc Perelman thatafter American authorities confrontedJerusalem at the end of 2001, the Israeligovernment “acknowledged the opera-tion and apologized for not coordinatingit with Washington”. Today, Perelmanstands by his reporting. I asked him if his sources in the Mossad denied thestory. “Nobody stopped talking to me”,he said.In June 2002, ABC News’
20/20
 followed up with its own investigationinto the matter, coming to the sameconclusion as
The
 
 Forward 
. VincentCannistraro, former chief of operationsfor counterterrorism with the CIA, told
20/20
that some of the names of the fivemen appeared as hits in searches of anFBI national intelligence database. Can-nistraro told me that the question thatmost troubled FBI agents in the weeksand months after 9/11 was whether theIsraelis had arrived at the site of their “celebration” with foreknowledge of the attack to come. From the beginning,“the FBI investigation operated on the premise that the Israelis had foreknowl-

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