Report: U.S. Breaks Up Major
Israeli Spy Ring; Speculation: Mossad Was Aware of Sept. 11
Authorities in the
United States have broken up a network of Israeli spies living
in the US who were burrowing into the justice and defense
departments, a French website specializing in intelligence
matters reported Monday.
The site, Intelligence
Online, said it had exclusive access to a US justice
department report that showed "a huge Israeli spy ring
operating in the United States was rolled up by the Justice
Department's counter-espionage service" last year, AFP
cited the site.
An estimated 120 Israelis were
detained or deported as a result of the highly top-secret
operation, which it said had began in April last year and was
The Website reported the ring was active in
the states of Arkansas, California, Florida and Texas, and was
made up of around 20 cells of between four and eight members
who were aged between 22 and 30 and had recently completed
Israeli military service in an army intelligence division.
It named several Israelis alleged to be the espionage
operatives, including 3 of 13 Israeli "art students" it said
were arrested in the Texan city of Irving on March 26 and 27
Intelligence Online editor-in-chief
Guillaume Dasquie told AFP that the network had been
trying "to penetrate justice department and defense department
systems" through drug-fighting agencies such as the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has access to files
from other US departments.
"The DEA plays a central
role in counter-espionage because of its internal security
service, the Office of Security Programs, which was the first
to notice the unusual behavior of young Israeli nationals
among its agents," Dasquie said.
His Website reported
the network's objectives included some of the most sensitive
sites in the United States, such as the Tinker Air Force Base
located close to Oklahoma City. It said the US Air Force had
requested the help of the Justice Department last May in the
investigation against the Israelis.
Dasquie added that
US investigators were concerned by indications that some of
the alleged Israeli spies had been based in the same US cities
as people suspected of having helped in the logistics of the
devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
For instance, it had been established, he said, that a
dozen Israelis, including the alleged surveillance leader, had
been based in the Florida town of Hollywood between January
and June last year.
US authorities have arrested
another dozen people "suspected of being tasked with the
logistics of preparing the September 11 attacks" in the same
area, he noted.
Dasquie pointed out, however, that the
"troubling" coincidence was still only one theory being looked
into and that there was not enough information to determine
whether Israel's Mossad secret service had been aware of the
preparations for the September attacks.
"It has to be
verified if these teams were in the same place at the same
time before hypotheses are built up," he said. (Albawaba.com)