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 prepared 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]
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?
May 7, 2002: In the middle of the night a moving truck is pulled over for speeding in Oak Harbor, Washington, near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The base is the home of the advanced electronic warfare Prowler jets. A bomb-sniffing dog detects explosives on one of the men and inside the truck. High-tech equipment is then later used to confirm the presence of TNT on the gearshift and RDX plastic explosive on the steering wheel. Both men turn out to be Israeli (one with an altered passport), and in the country illegally. [Fox News, 5/13/02] However, later the FBI clears the two men, saying both the dog and the tests just detected false positives from "residue left by a cigarette lighter." [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 5/14/02, Jerusalem Post, 5/14/02] The "art student spy ring" frequently uses moving vans as cover, and has been caught spying on the most top secret military bases. [Salon, 5/7/02] In a possibly related story, the Seattle FBI office that handled this case appears to have been broken into a few weeks later, and even a room containing evidence was penetrated. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7/29/02] Does it not appear that the spy ring is still active, and the FBI is covering up for them and releasing them, no matter what they're caught doing? Why?