- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorised the leak
of sensitive documents which reveal America's spy agencies were warned
about a terrorist strike weeks before September 11. The controversial move
has now directly embroiled President George Bush in the 'how-much-did-he-know?'
debate over the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
- Sharon's reaction is a calculated response to growing
claims that Mossad has been running spy operations within the United States
and also reveals a split in the special relationship between the two leaders.
- Mossad chiefs insist the Israeli spy agency was tracking
Osama Bin-Laden's terrorists in America before September 11 and that that
the information was passed on to the CIA on Five separate occasions before
the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon. As late as August 24, less than two
weeks before the attacks, a Mossad warning, confirmed by German intelligence,
BND, said that "terrorists plan to hijack commercial aircraft to use
as weapons to attack important symbols of American and Israeli culture."
The warning alert was passed to the CIA.
- The warning was also passed to MI6. The agency made its
own checks and also informed the CIA. Frustrated by its inability to alert
the CIA to an impending attack, Mossad arranged on September 1, according
to Tel Aviv sources last week, for Russian intelligence to warn Washington
"in the strongest possible terms of imminent assaults on airports
and government buildings." Mossad's fury at the failure of the US
intelligence community to act has been compounded by the revelation that
the Bush administration had ordered the FBI Only a Week Before the September
attacks to curtail investigations on two of Osama Bin-Laden's close relatives
living in the US state of Virginia at the time.
- Sharon's decision to allow the story of Bush's prior
knowledge of the attack to be leaked comes at a time when Israel is smarting
over what Sharon sees as Bush pressurising the Jewish state into an accommodation
- The feeling in Tel Aviv is that Bush's much hyped war
on terrorism does not actually fit into the aggressive policy Israel wants
- Sharon has already suffered a humiliating defeat at the
hands of his archrival, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the
central committee of their Likud Party ruled out the establishment of a
Palestinian state last Sunday.
- The party's decision, formalized in a resolution backed
by Netanyahu, directly contradicted Sharon's own stated acceptance of a
Palestinian state as the eventual conclusion of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
It came as Sharon faces mounting domestic and international pressure to
find a way to stop more than 19 months of bloodshed and launch talks with
- The support he was expecting from America failed to materialise,
said a source close to Mossad. "Ariel Sharon is furious because he
thinks Bush has not supported him as fully as he could. His coalition is
falling apart, Netanyahu has sneaked ahead of him and the Israelis are
generally fed up of living in fear. Sharon is quite clear where the blame
lies - in the White House. "Now he has really stirred things up by
putting Bush right at the centre of this storm by actively allowing these
sensitive documents to be leaked to the world. He feels he needs to teach
Bush a lesson and this will certainly complicate America's peace efforts
in the region," he said.
- According to similar documents shown to the Sunday Express,
Mossad was running a round-the-clock surveillance operation on some of
the September 11 hijackers.
- The details, contained in classified papers, reveal that
a senior Mossad agent tipped off his counterpart in America's Central Intelligence
Agency that a massive terrorist hit was being planned in the US. A handful
of the spies had infiltrated the Al-Qaeda organisation while a staggering
120 others, posing as overseas art students, launched massive undercover
operations throughout America.
- Other documents leaked to the Sunday Express from several
intelligence agencies including the Drugs Enforcement Agency show that
two Mossad cells of six Egyptian and Yemeni born Jews, trained at a secret
base in Israel's Negev Desert on how to penetrate Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda
- One team flew to Amsterdam and were under the control
of Mossad's Europe Station. This is based at Schipol Airport within the
El Al complex. They later made contact in Hamburg with Mohammed Atta, the
lead hijacker on September 11. The second group flew directly to New York.
From there they travelled South to Florida and infiltrated the Bin laden
organisation. In August last year, the Mossad team in Europe flew with
some of the Hamburg terrorists into Boston, a month before the attack on
the twin towers.
- By then the Mossad team had established an attack on
the US was "imminent". It reported this to its Tel Aviv controller
through the Israeli Embassy in Washington using a system of secure communications.
In early September Mossad Chief Efraim Halevy sent a warning to the CIA
of the possibility of such an attack. The warning was noted and acknowledged.
But CIA chief George Tenet is understood to have described it as "too
non-specific." The FBI was also informed. Halevy sent a second alert
to the CIA that reached Washington on or around September 7.
- A spokesman for the FBI refused to discuss specific details
of the Mossad operation but said: "There are Congressional hearings
with regard to possible intelligence failures arising from September 11.
We can't verify your information because it is part of an ongoing investigation."
- Neither the DEA or the CIA would comment on the record,
but a senior US intelligence source said: "Anyone can be wise after
the event but it was extremely difficult to act on a non specific threat
given in a couple of tips from Israeli intelligence. It would be interesting
to know if they could have been more specific with their information.
- ''Their surveillance teams must have observed Atta and
his accomplices going to flying schools. I guess we might never know the
- The spying operations first came to the attention of
the DEA in January 2001 according to a classified 90-page dossier which
has been seen by the Sunday Express. The names, passport details and other
personal records of some of the Israeli-born spies are also detailed in
- GORDON THOMAS - read more
of his amazing work - Seeds of Fire: China And The Story Behind the Attack
on America - Gideon's Spies : The Secret History of the Mossad - The Jesus