January 2000 (B): A DEA government document later leaked to the press [DEA report, 6/01] 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 strange connections to the events of 9/11. [Insight, 3/11/02]
December 2000-April 2001: According to later German reports, "a whole horde of Israeli counter-terror investigators, posing as students, [follow] the trails of Arab terrorists and their cells in the United States ... In the town of Hollywood, Florida, they [identify] ... Atta and Marwan Alshehhi as possible terrorists. Agents [live] in the vicinity of the apartment of the two seemingly normal flight school students, observing them around the clock." Supposedly, around April, the Israeli agents are discovered and deported, terminating the investigation. [Der Spiegel, 10/1/02] However, 80 additional agents are apprehended between June and December 2001 [Fox News, 12/12/01] and even more have been uncovered since (see May 7, 2002). Did the surveillance of Atta and others in fact end in April? Other reports have implied the story and connection (see March 5, 2002). Supposedly, the Mossad waits until late August 2001 before informing the CIA what it learns, and the CIA doesn't take the warning seriously (see August 23, 2001).
March 23, 2001: The Office of National Drug Control Policy issues a National Security Alert describing "apparent attempts by Israeli nationals to learn about government personnel and office layouts." This later comes to light through a leaked Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) document called "Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities." A crackdown ensues and by June around 120 Israelis are apprehended. More are apprehended later. [Read the document here: DEA report, 6/01]
June 2001 (G): A 60-page internal memo on the Israeli "art student" spy ring is written by the DEA's Office of Security Programs. [Read the memo here: DEA report, 6/01] The memo is a compilation of dozens of field reports, and was meant only for the eyes of senior officials at the Justice Department (of which the DEA is adjunct), but it is leaked to the press around December 2001. The report connects the spies to efforts to foil investigations into Israeli organized crime activity involving the importation of the drug Ecstasy. The spies also appear to be snooping on top secret military bases. For instance, on April 30, 2001, an Air Force alert was issued from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City concerning "possible intelligence collection being conducted by Israeli Art Students." Tinker AFB houses AWACS surveillance craft and Stealth bombers. By the time of the report, the US has "apprehended or expelled close to 120 Israeli nationals" but many remain at large. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Salon, 5/7/02]
June-September 10, 2001: An additional 20 or so Israeli spies are apprehended between June and 9/11. [Fox News, 12/12/01]
November 23, 2001 (B): The Washington Post reports, "At least 60 young Israeli Jews have been arrested and detained around the country on immigration charges since the Sept. 11 attacks, many of them held on US government officials' invocation of national security." An INS official who requested anonymity says the use of the term "special interest" for Israelis being held in Cleveland, St. Louis and other places means the case in question is "related to the investigation of September 11th." [Washington Post, 11/23/01] Could this be more "art school" spy ring activity?
March 5, 2002: It is reported that many spies in the uncovered Israeli spy ring seemed to have been trailing the 9/11 hijackers. For instance, five Israeli spies are intercepted in the tiny town of Hollywood, Florida, and four 9/11 hijackers are known to have spent time in Hollywood, Florida. [Le Monde, 3/5/02, Reuters, 3/5/02, Jane's Intelligence Digest, 3/15/02] In one case, some Israeli spies lived at 4220 Sheridan Street, only a few hundred feet from where Atta was living at 3389 Sheridan Street. Israeli spies appear to have been close to at least 10 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. [Salon, 5/7/02]
March 11, 2002: A newspaper reports that the DEA study on Israeli "art students" determined the "students" all had "recently served in the Israeli military, the majority in intelligence, electronic signal intercept or explosive ordnance units." [Palm Beach Post, 3/11/02]