Suspected Israeli Spies Held by U.S.
WASHINGTON Some 60 Israelis,
who federal investigators have said are part of a long-running
effort to spy on American government officials, are among the
hundreds of foreigners detained since the Sept. 11 terror
attacks, Fox News has learned.
The Israelis, a handful of whom are
described as active Israeli military or intelligence
operatives, have been detained on immigration charges or under
the new Patriot Anti-Terrorism Law. Federal investigators said
some of them failed polygraph questions inquiring about
alleged surveillance activities against and in the United
There is no indication the Israelis were
involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, but investigators suspect
that they may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in
advance and not shared it.
A highly placed investigator told Fox News
there are "tie-ins," but when asked for details flatly refused
to describe them. "Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is
classified, I cannot tell you about evidence that has been
gathered. It is classified information," the source said.
An Israeli Embassy spokesman offered
categorical denials, and said any suggestion of Israelis
spying on or in the United States is simply not true.
But Fox News has learned that one group of
Israelis spotted in North Carolina recently is suspected of
keeping an apartment in California to spy on a group of Arabs
who the U.S. authorities are investigating for links to
Numerous classified documents obtained by
Fox News indicate that even prior to Sept. 11, as many as 140
other Israelis had been detained or arrested in a secretive
and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by
Israelis in the United States.
Investigators from numerous government
agencies are part of a working group that has been compiling
evidence in the case since the mid-1990s. These documents
detail hundreds of incidents in cities and towns across the
country that investigators say quote "may well be an organized
Investigators are focusing part of their
efforts on Israelis who said they are art students from the
University of Jerusalem or Bezalel Academy and repeatedly made
contact with U.S. government personnel by saying they wanted
to sell cheap art or handiwork.
Documents say they "targeted" and
penetrated military bases, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, dozens
of government facilities and even secret offices and unlisted
private homes of law enforcement and intelligence
Another part of the investigation has
resulted in the detention and arrest of dozens of Israelis
working at kiosks in American malls, where they had been
selling toys called "Puzzlecar" and "Zoomcopter."
Investigators suspected a front. Shortly
after the New York Times and Washington Post
reported the detentions of Israelis on immigration charges
last month, the carts began vanishing.
Why would Israelis spy in and on the United
A General Accounting Office investigation
referred to Israel as Country A and said, "According to a U.S.
intelligence agency, the government of country A conducts the
most aggressive espionage operation against the U.S. of any
A Defense Intelligence report said Israel
has a "voracious appetite for information."
"The Israelis are motivated by strong
survival instincts which dictate every facet of their
political and economic policies," the DIA report said. "It
aggressively collects military and industrial technology and
the U.S. is a high priority target.
"Israel possesses the resources and
technical capability to achieve its collection objectives,"
the document concludes.