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Re: David Irving stories, the need of watertight facts and IR
by John Leonard
22 September 2002 22:03 UTC
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Although this is the "mainstream" or supposedly "watertight" version, some 
things have "leaked" out of this "David Irving boat" that you can read in 
The War on Freedom. (Don't accuse me of mixing metaphors, all of them are wet.)


ABC News Online June 21

Good Morning America World News Tonight 20/20 Primetime Nightline UpClose 
WNN This Week

U.S. officials spent months investigating five Israelis to determine 
whether they were working in America as spies for Israel.  (ABCNEWS.com)

The White Van

Were Israelis Detained on Sept. 11 Spies?

June 21 — Millions saw the horrific images of the World Trade Center 
attacks, and those who saw them won't forget them. But a New Jersey 
homemaker saw something that morning that prompted an investigation into 
five young Israelis and their possible connection to Israeli intelligence.

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Maria, who asked us not to use her last name, had a view of the World Trade 
Center from her New Jersey apartment building. She remembers a neighbor 
calling her shortly after the first plane hit the towers.

She grabbed her binoculars and watched the destruction unfolding in lower 
Manhattan. But as she watched the disaster, something else caught her eye.

Maria says she saw three young men kneeling on the roof of a white van in 
the parking lot of her apartment building. "They seemed to be taking a 
movie," Maria said.

The men were taking video or photos of themselves with the World Trade 
Center burning in the background, she said. What struck Maria were the 
expressions on the men's faces. "They were like happy, you know … They 
didn't look shocked to me. I thought it was very strange," she said.

She found the behavior so suspicious that she wrote down the license plate 
number of the van and called the police. Before long, the FBI was also on 
the scene, and a statewide bulletin was issued on the van.

The plate number was traced to a van owned by a company called Urban 
Moving. Around 4 p.m. on Sept. 11, the van was spotted on a service road 
off Route 3, near New Jersey's Giants Stadium. A police officer pulled the 
van over, finding five men, between 22 and 27 years old, in the vehicle. 
The men were taken out of the van at gunpoint and handcuffed by police.

The arresting officers said they saw a lot that aroused their suspicion 
about the men. One of the passengers had $4,700 in cash hidden in his sock. 
Another was carrying two foreign passports. A box cutter was found in the 
van. But perhaps the biggest surprise for the officers came when the five 
men identified themselves as Israeli citizens.

‘We Are Not Your Problem’

According to the police report, one of the passengers told the officers 
they had been on the West Side Highway in Manhattan "during the incident" — 
referring to the World Trade Center attack. The driver of the van, Sivan 
Kurzberg, told the officers, "We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your 
problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem." The other 
passengers were his brother Paul Kurzberg, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and 
Omer Marmari.

When the men were transferred to jail, the case was transferred out of the 
FBI's Criminal Division, and into the bureau's Foreign Counterintelligence 
Section, which is responsible for espionage cases, ABCNEWS has learned.

One reason for the shift, sources told ABCNEWS, was that the FBI believed 
Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence 

After the five men were arrested, the FBI got a warrant and searched Urban 
Moving's Weehawken, N.J., offices.

The FBI searched Urban Moving's offices for several hours, removing boxes 
of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. The FBI also questioned 
Urban Moving's owner. His attorney insists that his client answered all of 
the FBI's questions. But when FBI agents tried to interview him again a few 
days later, he was gone.

Three months later 2020's cameras photographed the inside of Urban Moving, 
and it looked as if the business had been shut down in a big hurry. Cell 
phones were lying around; office phones were still connected; and the 
property of dozens of clients remained in the warehouse.

The owner had also cleared out of his New Jersey home, put it up for sale 
and returned with his family to Israel.

‘A Scary Situation’

Steven Gordon, the attorney for the five Israeli detainees, acknowledged 
that his clients' actions on Sept. 11 would easily have aroused suspicions. 
"You got a group of guys that are taking pictures, on top of a roof, of the 
World Trade Center. They're speaking in a foreign language. They got two 
passports on 'em. One's got a wad of cash on him, and they got box cutters. 
Now that's a scary situation."

But Gordon insisted that his clients were just five young men who had come 
to America for a vacation, ended up working for a moving company, and were 
taking pictures of the event.

The five Israelis were held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in 
Brooklyn, ostensibly for overstaying their tourist visas and working in the 
United States illegally. Two weeks after their arrest, an immigration judge 
ordered them to be deported. But sources told ABCNEWS that FBI and CIA 
officials in Washington put a hold on the case.

The five men were held in detention for more than two months. Some of them 
were placed in solitary confinement for 40 days, and some of them were 
given as many as seven lie-detector tests.

Plenty of Speculation

Since their arrest, plenty of speculation has swirled about the case, and 
what the five men were doing that morning. Eventually, The Forward, a 
respected Jewish newspaper in New York, reported the FBI concluded that two 
of the men were Israeli intelligence operatives.

Vince Cannistraro, a former chief of operations for counterterrorism with 
the CIA who is now a consultant for ABCNEWS, said federal authorities' 
interest in the case was heightened when some of the men's names were found 
in a search of a national intelligence database.

Israeli Intelligence Connection?

According to Cannistraro, many people in the U.S. intelligence community 
believed that some of the men arrested were working for Israeli 
intelligence. Cannistraro said there was speculation as to whether Urban 
Moving had been "set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an 
intelligence operation against radical Islamists in the area, particularly 
in the New Jersey-New York area."

Under this scenario, the alleged spying operation was not aimed against the 
United States, but at penetrating or monitoring radical fund-raising and 
support networks in Muslim communities like Paterson, N.J., which was one 
of the places where several of the hijackers lived in the months prior to 
Sept. 11.

For the FBI, deciphering the truth from the five Israelis proved to be 
difficult. One of them, Paul Kurzberg, refused to take a lie-detector test 
for 10 weeks — then failed it, according to his lawyer. Another of his 
lawyers told us Kurzberg had been reluctant to take the test because he had 
once worked for Israeli intelligence in another country.

Sources say the Israelis were targeting these fund-raising networks because 
they were thought to be channeling money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups 
that are responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Israel. "[The] 
Israeli government has been very concerned about the activity of radical 
Islamic groups in the United States that could be a support apparatus to 
Hamas and Islamic Jihad," Cannistraro said.

The men denied that they had been working for Israeli intelligence out of 
the New Jersey moving company, and Ram Horvitz, their Israeli attorney, 
dismissed the allegations as "stupid and ridiculous."

Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, goes even 
further, asserting the issue was never even discussed with U.S. officials.

"These five men were not involved in any intelligence operation in the 
United States, and the American intelligence authorities have never raised 
this issue with us," Regev said. "The story is simply false."

No ‘Pre-Knowledge’

Despite the denials, sources tell ABCNEWS there is still debate within the 
FBI over whether or not the young men were spies. Many U.S. government 
officials still believe that some of them were on a mission for Israeli 
intelligence. But the FBI told ABCNEWS, "To date, this investigation has 
not identified anybody who in this country had pre-knowledge of the events 
of 9/11."

Sources also said that even if the men were spies, there is no evidence to 
conclude they had advance knowledge of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. 
The investigation, at the end of the day, after all the polygraphs, all of 
the field work, all the cross-checking, the intelligence work, concluded 
that they probably did not have advance knowledge of 9/11," Cannistraro noted.

As to what they were doing on the van, they say they read about the attack 
on the Internet, couldn't see it from their offices and went to the parking 
lot for a better view. But no one has been able to find a good explanation 
for why they may have been smiling with the towers of the World Trade 
Center burning in the background. Both the lawyers for the young men and 
the Israeli Embassy chalk it up to immature conduct.

According to ABCNEWS sources, Israeli and U.S. government officials worked 
out a deal — and after 71 days, the five Israelis were taken out of jail, 
put on a plane, and deported back home.

While the former detainees refused to answer ABCNEWS' questions about their 
detention and what they were doing on Sept. 11, several of the detainees 
discussed their experience in America on an Israeli talk show after their 
return home.

Said one of the men, denying that they were laughing or happy on the 
morning of Sept. 11, "The fact of the matter is we are coming from a 
country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event."

ABCNEWS' Chris Isham, John Miller, Glenn Silber and Chris Vlasto 
contributed to this report.

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