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Context of 'September 16, 2004: New Israeli Art Student Ring in Canada Has Unexplained Link to Islamic Fundamentalist Fundraising'

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A DEA government document later leaked to the press (Drug Enforcement Agency 6/2001) suggests that a large Israeli spy ring starts penetrating the US from at least this time, if not earlier. This ring, which will later become popularly known as the “art student spy ring,” is later shown to have unusual connections to the events of 9/11. (Berlau 3/11/2002)

USA Today reports that “Israeli crime groups… dominate distribution” of the drug Ecstasy. (Leinwand and Fields 4/19/2000) The DEA also states that most of the Ecstasy sold in the US is “controlled by organized crime figures in Western Europe, Russia, and Israel.” (United Press International 10/25/2001) According to DEA documents, the Israeli “art student spy ring” “has been linked to several ongoing DEA [Ecstasy] investigations in Florida, California, Texas, and New York now being closely coordinated by DEA headquarters.” (Berlau 3/11/2002)

National Security Adviser Rice, upset with a media leak, orders an investigation that will uncover evidence of widespread Israeli spying in the US. The Saudis had recently threatened to end their close alliance with the US (see August 27, 2001 and August 29-September 6, 2001), and on September 6, 2001, President Bush held a meeting attended by Rice and others to work on how to appease Saudi concerns (see September 6, 2001). Just three days after the meeting, there is a story by Jane Perlez in the New York Times accurately detailing what was discussed in the meeting. It will later be reported that Rice is furious about the leak to Perlez and immediately demands a clampdown on leakers. The determination to improve secrecy increases in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. This leak investigation focuses on Israelis in the US. No one is ever prosecuted for the leak to Perlez, but the investigation will takes on a life of its own and continue for years. (Perlez 9/9/2001; Kampeas and Berger 5/17/2005; Rozen 7/14/2005) It appears the FBI had been investigating Israeli spying in the US since at least 1999 (see April 13, 1999-2004), and there are reports of a discovery of a “massive” Israeli spy operation in the US in 2001 (see 2001) and/or the discovery of the Israeli art student spy ring (see March 23, 2001 and June 2001). It is unclear if there is any connection between these investigations and this media link investigation or not.

In a curious echo of reports of an Israeli “art student spy ring” in the US before 9/11, it is reported that numerous young Israelis claiming to be from non-existent art schools in Israel are being arrested and deported for selling art in Canada. Unlike the earlier events in the US, there are no reports of government offices and workers being targeted. Rather, it appears to be a money making scam to sell cheap Asian art for vastly inflated prices in numerous Canadian cities. However, it is reported these Israelis “may be linked to a group fronting for Islamic fundamentalist fundraisers.” The nature and detail of the connection between the Israelis and Islamic fundamentalists is not explained in the newspaper accounts of this scam. (Yoaz 9/16/2004; Jerusalem Post 9/16/2004)


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