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Senator Rand Paul, supported by a number of other congressmen, has demanded that the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that explored the Saudi Arabian role in the terrorist attack be made public. The redacted section of the report, which apparently concluded that the Saudi government itself played no direct role in 9/11, nevertheless contained considerable evidence suggesting that wealthy Saudis and even members of the Royal Family had been supporting and funding al-Qaeda. Some who have actually read the 28 pages were reported to be shocked by what was revealed.
Recent comments by presidential aspirant Donald Trump indicating that he was aware of people celebrating the terrorist attack in New Jersey, whom he described as “Muslims” numbering in their thousands, might well be regarded as misremembering events that took place over fourteen years ago. Or it could just possibly be part of a deliberate scheme to establish a false narrative that would fit nicely with Trump’s stated desire to surveil mosques, waterboard suspects and subject all Muslims to extraordinary scrutiny by the police.
The Trump over-the-top comments were greeting with disbelief and debunked by many media pundits. They were even denounced by some Republicans competing with him for the GOP nomination. But what is really astonishing about the reaction was the failure to connect the dots with what actually happened on 9/11. There were indeed people celebrating as the Twin Towers were burning and collapsing, but they were not Muslims. They were Israelis.
If the Saudi role in 9/11 is still classified secret it is regrettable, but the Israeli role, insofar as can be determined, was never seriously investigated at all and any conclusions, if there were any, were never included in the final report. This time around with the story being resurfaced by Trump one would think that a journalist or two just might be able to make the connection and realize that Donald may have actually been referring to a reported incident involving Israelis rather than Arabs and that he is possibly confusing one with the other.
But of course no one in the mainstream media did pick up on the connection, inhibited no doubt by the understanding that there are some things that one just does not write about Israel if one hopes to remain employed. That is true in spite of the fact that the Israeli angle to 9/11 is without a doubt a good story, one that has never been satisfactorily explored, but it is a tale that will have to remain mired in the alternative media where it can be marginalized by critics as a conspiracy theory or the product of anti-Semitism.
So for the benefit of Mr. Trump and for anyone else who might be interested, I will take it upon myself to relate what happened. Quite possibly Senator Paul will read this and decide that giving billions of dollars in aid annually to a country that just might have been linked to what occurred on 9/11 might no longer be a good idea. He might even demand an inquiry or a commission to look into it and determine what exactly the U.S. government does and does not know. That would be very interesting.
In the year 2001 Israel was running a massive spying operation directed against Muslims either resident or traveling in the United States. The operation included the creation of a number of cover companies in New Jersey, Florida and also on the west coast that served as spying mechanisms for Mossad officers. The effort was supported by the Mossad Station in Washington D.C. and included a large number of volunteers, the so-called “art students” who traveled around the U.S. selling various products at malls and outdoor markets. The FBI was aware of the numerous Israeli students who were routinely overstaying their visas and some in the Bureau certainly believed that they were assisting their country’s intelligence service in some way, but it proved difficult to actually link the students to actual undercover operations, so they were regarded as a minor nuisance and were normally left to the tender mercies of the inspectors at the Bureau of Customs and Immigration.
American law enforcement was also painfully aware that the Israelis were running more sophisticated intelligence operations inside the United States, many of which were focused on Washington’s military capabilities and intentions. Some specialized intelligence units concentrated on obtaining military and dual use technology. It was also known that Israeli spies had penetrated the phone systems of the U.S. government, to include those at the White House.
In its annual classified counterespionage review, the FBI invariably places Israel at the top for “friendly” countries that spy on the U.S. In fact, the pre-9/11 Bureau did its best to stay on top of the problem, but it rarely received any political support from the Justice Department and White House if an espionage case involved Israelis. By one estimate, more than 100 such cases were not prosecuted for political reasons. Any Israeli caught in flagrante would most often be quietly deported and most Americans who were helping Israel were let off with a slap on the wrist.
But the hands-off attitude towards Israel shifted dramatically when, on September 11, 2001, a New Jersey housewife saw something from the window of her apartment building, which overlooked the World Trade Center. She watched as the buildings burned and crumbled but also noted something strange. Three young men were kneeling on the roof of a white transit van parked by the water’s edge, making a movie in which they featured themselves high fiving and laughing in front of the catastrophic scene unfolding behind them. The woman wrote down the license plate number of the van and called the police, who responded quickly and soon both the local force and the FBI began looking for the vehicle, which was subsequently seen by other witnesses in various locations along the New Jersey waterfront, its occupants “celebrating and filming.”
The license plate number revealed that the van belonged to a New Jersey registered company called Urban Moving Systems. At 4 p.m. the vehicle was spotted and pulled over. Five men between the ages of 22 and 27 years old emerged. They were detained at gunpoint and handcuffed. They were all Israelis. One of them had $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock and another had two foreign passports. Bomb sniffing dogs reacted to the smell of explosives in the van.
According to the initial police report, the driver identified as Sivan Kurzberg, stated “We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.” The four other passengers were Sivan’s brother Paul, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari. The men were detained at the Bergen County jail in New Jersey before being transferred the FBI’s Foreign Counterintelligence Section, which handles allegations of spying.
After the arrest, the FBI obtained a warrant to search Urban Moving System’s Weehawken, N.J., offices. Papers and computers were seized. The company owner Dominick Suter, also an Israeli, answered FBI questions but when a follow-up interview was set up a few days later it was learned that he had fled the country for Israel, putting both his business and home up for sale. The office space and warehouse were abandoned. It was later learned that Suter has been associated with at least fourteen businesses in the United States, mostly in New Jersey and New York but also in Florida. Suter and his wife Omit Levinson Suter were the owners of 1 Stop Cleaner located in Wellington Florida and Dominick was also associated with Basia McDonnell, described as a Polish “holocaust survivor,” as a business partner in yet another business called Value Ad. Florida was a main focus for the Israeli intelligence operation in the U.S. that was directed against Arabs.
The five Israelis were held in Brooklyn, initially on charges relating to visa fraud. FBI interrogators questioned them for more than two months. Several were held in solitary confinement so they could not communicate with each other and two of them were given repeated polygraph exams, which they failed when claiming that they were nothing more than students working summer jobs. The two men that the FBI focused on most intensively were believed to be Mossad staff officers and the other three were volunteers helping with surveillance.
The Israelis were not exactly cooperative, but the FBI concluded from documents obtained at their office in Weehawken that they were targeting Arabs in New York and New Jersey, most particularly in the Paterson N.J. area, which has the second largest Muslim population in the U.S. They were particularly interested in local groups possibly linked to Hamas and Hezbollah as well as in charities that might be used for fund raising. The FBI also concluded that there was a distinct possibility that the Israelis had actually monitored the activities of at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.
To be sure, working on an intelligence operation does not necessarily imply participation in either the planning or execution of something like 9/11, but there are Israeli fingerprints all over the place, with cover companies and intelligence personnel often intersecting with locations frequented by the hijackers. And even possessing bits and pieces relating to the plot does not necessarily imply significant prior knowledge of it.
Apart from the interrogations of the five men from Weehawken, the U.S. government has apparently never sought to find out what else the Israelis might have known or were up to in September 2011. There are a lot a dots that might well have been connected once upon a time, but the trail has grown cold. Police records in New Jersey and New York where the men were held have disappeared and FBI interrogation reports are inaccessible. Media coverage of the case also died, though the five were referred to in the press as the “dancing Israelis” and by some, more disparagingly, as the “dancing Shlomos.”
Inevitably, the George W. Bush White House intervened. After 71 days in detention, the five Israelis were released from prison, put on a plane, and deported. Two of the men later spoke about their unpleasant experience in America on an Israeli talk show, one explaining that their filming the fall of the Twin Towers was to “document the event.” In 2004 the five men sued the United States government for damages, alleging “that their detention was illegal and that their civil rights were violated, suffering racial slurs, physical violence, religious discrimination, rough interrogations, deprivation of sleep, and many other offenses.” They were represented by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who in the previous year had founded the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center which seeks to bankrupt groups that Israel considers to be “terrorists.” Shurat HaDin is closely tied to the Israeli government.
Now it is just possible that the Urban Moving Israelis were indeed uninvolved in 9/11 but nevertheless working for Mossad, which one has to suspect is the case. More than fourteen years later it is perhaps past time to reveal what exactly the FBI knew and currently knows about both the scale and modus operandi of Israeli espionage in the United States. Did Israel have critical intelligence either in broad outline or possibly in specific detail about 9/11 and let it happen to bind Washington more closely to it in a “global war on terror?” If Senator Rand Paul wants to learn more about the Saudis, it is fair to ask “What about Israel?” If Donald Trump wants to pillory fictional celebrating Muslims it is perhaps appropriate that he begin to take note of the actual celebrating Israelis who were caught in the act on 9/11.