9/11 — What Did the Israelis Know?

A new piece by the talented Christopher Ketcham in Counterpunch relates a story well-known to longtime readers of Antiwar.com: we were, after all, the first to write about the Israeli connection to the events of 9/11. A month later, Carl Cameron came out with his famous four-part series which opened with these chilling words:

There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9/11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins’. But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. ‘I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.’

Ketcham, author of a previous piece detailing the “Israeli art student” phenomenon, offers up intriguing new insights and information from inside sources about the story that won’t die — in spite of repeated attempts by the Lobby to quash it. Amy Goodman interviews Ketcham, Alexander Cockburn, and Forward reporter Marc Perelman (one of the first to break this story in 2002).

Easily the most interesting aspect of Ketcham’s story is his description of the five Israelis, employees of a Weehawken, New Jersey, moving company, who were observed, on the morning of 9/11, cheering and laughing in the parking lot of Liberty State Park, overlooking the Hudson — and with a clear view of the burning twin towers. A radio alert went out to police officers, and the white 2000 Chevie van they were in was spotted shortly afterwards, and apprehended. As Ketcham relates: They had not been told the reasons for their arrest. Yet, according to DeCarlo’s report, “this officer was told without question by the driver [Sivan Kurzberg],

‘We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem.’ Another of the five Israelis, again without prompting, told Officer DeCarlo – falsely – that ‘we were on the West Side Highway in New York City during the incident.’

Ketcham cites a former CIA counter-terrorism expert as saying:

One story was that [the Israelis] appeared at Liberty State Park very quickly after the first plane hit. The other was that they were at the park location already.

“Either way,” avers Ketcham, “investigators wanted to know exactly what the men were expecting when they got there.”

Indeed. This story was originally written as a follow-up to Ketcham’s original piece in Salon, and then rejected — an hour before it was to be posted — in the dubious grounds that it reported “nothing new.” Then The Nation was supposed to publish it, but backed down at the last moment. Ketcham’s piece isn’t online yet, but if you want to find out how to get a copy (yes, on dead tree!), go here.

(I wrote a short book, The Terror Enigma: 9/11 and the Israeli Connection, published in 2003. Go buy it. And you might want to check out Antiwar.com’s archive of documentary materials in our “Israeli Art Students Files.”)