Massive Israeli Spy Ring Uncovered
by Christopher Bollyn
January 3, 2005
details of a massive Israeli spy ring that operated across the
explosive story of the Israeli spy ring, discovered operating in the
Referring to the reports, the March 15, 2002, issue of Forward, one of
the oldest Jewish newspapers in
Le Monde and Fox (as
well as IO) suggested the likelihood that these Israeli operatives were spying
on Arab terrorist cells operation in the
British intelligence and military analysis publication, Jane's Information
Group, noted the peculiar absence of reporting in the American media on the
"explosive story" of the huge network of Israeli spies that made headlines
around the world:
It is rather strange
that the U.S. media...seem to be ignoring what may well prove to be the most
explosive story since the Sept. 11 attack, the alleged breakup of a major
Israeli espionage operation in the United states which aimed to infiltrate both
the Justice and Defense departments and which may also have been tracking al
Qaeda terrorists before the aircraft hijacking took place.
Reports of Israeli "art students" calling on DEA employees across the country
began as early as January 2000 and continued through June 2001. What is not
clear is what the ring of more than 120 agents was up to and why some Israelis
linked to the attacks in New York and Washington were allowed to flee or were
sent back to Israel, after Sept. 11 on visa violations, rather than being
charged and prosecuted.
"art students" are reported to be active agents in electronic surveillance units
of the Israeli military. The Israelis covered the country in "organized" teams
of eight to 10 people, with each group having a team leader. The DEA document
lists the Israelis' military and intelligence specialities as "special forces,"
"intelligence officer," "demolition/explosive ordnance specialist," "bodyguard
to head of Israeli army," "electronic intercept operator," and "son of a
two-star (Israeli) army general."
American intelligence services have become worried by the dominance of Israeli
companies in sensitive areas of telecommunications. One Israeli company,
Comverse Infosys (now called Verint), has provided law enforcement agencies with
computer equipment for wiretapping. It is thought that the equipment came with
"catch gates" that allowed the Israelis to listen in. Software made by Amdocs,
another Israeli outfit records virtually every call placed through the 25
DEA document reveals that many of the Israeli operatives had addresses in
report found that several military bases also had experienced unauthorized
entries by the Israelis including two bases from which Stealth aircraft and
other super-secret military units operate. Unauthorized photographing of
military sites and civilian industrial complexes, such as petroleum-storage
facilities was also reported, the document confirms.
DEA document describes "scores of encounters" between federal agents and Israeli
agents posing as art students. The seemingly innocuous cover was used to gain
access to sensitive
virtually every incident reported by the DEA field offices the Israelis used the
same methods: Israelis would attempt to enter secure buildings, take
photographs, follow federal agents when they left buildings, show up at their
homes and circle their neighborhoods, visit their houses and then depart. At a
DEA agent's house in
report, titled "Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Student at DEA
Facilities," lists more than 180 documented-incident cases. "The nature of the
individuals' conduct, combined with intelligence information and historical
information regarding past incidents involving Israeli organized crime, leads IS
[Internal Security of DEA] to believe the incidents may well be an organized
intelligence-gathering activity," said one classified document quoted by
This is very odd behavior under any situation," says a DEA official who had
heard but not yet seen the reports until Insight shared them. "The
patterns are clear and they pose a significant danger to our officers in the
spoke with Guillaume Dasquie, of IO, who told me that he had solid evidence of
the authenticity of the DEA document, and would reveal new evidence to counter
claims made by the Department of Justice that there had been "no case of Israeli
espionage" and that the matter was "an urban myth."
Israeli spy ring was "examined at the highest levels of the Bush
administration," according to Dasquie. On March 13, 2002, IO was informed by an
official at the Department of Justice that the report had been handed over to
the department's Joint Terrorism Task Force. The same day, at a DEA press
conference, the agency's administrator, Asa Hutchinson, said that he had passed
the document along to "other agencies" working on the matter.
March 14, 2002, IO said it has a copy of a memorandum dated March 4 and signed
by Robert Diegelman, assistant attorney general for administration. The memo was
addressed to officials in charge of the justice department's information
systems. It called on them to forbid information system access to all non-U.S.
citizens and no longer use foreign-supplied computer and communication gear.
memo referred to a warning entitled Department of Justice Order 2640.2D
Information Technology Security dated July 12, 2004, which cautioned against
using information technology sold by foreign firms. The warning of July 12
confirmed that the DEA's report was a security concern at the highest level.
DEA task force issued an initial report in June 2001 that listed the names of
125 Israeli nationals and described their activities in the
AP report on March 9 confirmed that the DEA document had been the joint work of
a task force. The AP report confirmed that several of the Israelis had never
enrolled in the art colleges they claimed to attend in
Jan. 17 issue described the case of a man and woman "of
A spokesman for Attorney General John Ashcroft initially attempted to dismiss the story as an "urban myth." However, the New York-based Forward exposed Ashcroft's prevarication when it admitted on March 15, 2002:
In March 2001, the
federal National Counterintelligence Executive issued a warning urging employees
to report all contact with people describing themselves as Israeli art students.
It said some had gone to private residences of senior
"These individuals have been described as aggressive," the warning said.
However, the warning added that there may be two groups involved, one with an
"apparently legitimate money-making goal while the second, perhaps a non-Israeli
group, may have ties to a Middle Eastern Islamic fundamentalist group."
idea that two such groups were operation at the same time (and that one may have
been a "non-Israeli group" presumably posing as Israelis) should raise
questions. The evidence indicates that Israelis operating in the
Attempting to put a positive spin on the revelations, Forward contends that tensions between the United States and Israel arise not from the fact that the United States believed the Israelis were spying on Americans, but because the Israelis had failed to advise the United States that they were engaged in spying against Arabs on American soil.