and Western Union helped Israel With targeted assassinations
Information from U.S. companies helped Israel locate
By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent
06/30/06 "Haaretz" -- -- WASHINGTON - From the spring of 2003
until autumn 2004, the Shin Bet security service tracked down
Palestinian terror cells in the West Bank thanks to information from
the Western Union money transfer service, which was passed on by the
This fact was disclosed in a book published this week about
America's war on terror after September 11, 2001. In "The One
Percent Doctrine," author Ron Suskind connects the transfer of
intelligence from the FBI to the Shin Bet with several targeted
assassinations carried out by Israel during this period.
Suskind, who is considered a reliable journalist, describes how
major private companies cooperated with government agencies such as
the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Treasury to
monitor communications and financial transfers after September 11,
in operations of questionable legality.
The FBI's most important connection during this period was with
First Data, an Omaha-based electronic fund transfer company with a
global reach. The company offered to assist the U.S. government in
the war against terror.
FBI Financial Crimes Section chief Dennis Lormel and his colleagues
at other intelligence agencies eventually realized that the
information supplied by the company could be used not only to locate
and freeze the assets of terror groups, but also to track them in
real time - in other words, to follow the money trail directly to
the sources and destinations of the funds.
First Data subsidiary Western Union, with branches throughout the
Arab world and a high volume of money transfers, was in a perfect
position to help. American intelligence agents and company officials
cooperated in tracking the data trail and in monitoring security
cameras installed in Western Union branches in order to see who was
picking up the funds.
According to the book, then Shin Bet head Avi Dichter, whom Suskind
calls an agent of change in the U.S. war against terror, was briefed
by Lormel on the new monitoring capabilities during one of his
frequent visits to Washington.
In April 2003, Dichter called Lormel to ask for the FBI's help in
this regard. Dichter told officials that the Shin Bet had
information about a courier who was expected to be bringing money to
Israel from Lebanon shortly. The source of the money was known, but
not the identity of the person for whom its was destined.
In early April, 2003, an Islamic Jihad activist went to a Western
Union office in Lebanon and ordered a money transfer to Hebron. The
Justice Department authorized Western Union to release this
information to the FBI and the CIA, and eventually to the Shin Bet.
According to Suskind, all this took just minutes, enabling Israeli
intelligence to track the person who collected the transfer in
Hebron and to uncover the terror cell.
According to the book, this method was used successfully many times
over the next year and a half, until autumn 2004, when Palestinian
operatives realized that their Western Union transfers were being
used to trap them.
Dichter told Haaretz on Wednesday that he has never spoken with
Intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel has increased
over the past several years, but until now, Israel's use of
information from American companies had been kept secret.
The Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives
approved a bill last week aimed at further increasing intelligence
ties with Israel and other countries by establishing a new office
for international cooperation programs within the Department of
This atmosphere of cooperation, Suskind states in his book, has
reinforced the sense that President George Bush wants to assist
Israel and was not disturbed by the military operations that Ariel
Sharon's government authorized in the territories. Suskind quotes
Bush as saying during his first National Security Council meeting
that the U.S. must refrain from active mediation in the
To then secretary of state Colin Powell's argument that such
behavior could be interpreted by Sharon's government as a green
light to apply force, Bush responded that sometimes a show of force
can clarify the issue at hand.
© Copyright 2006 Haaretz. All rights reserved
Click on "comments" below to read or post comments -
Click Here For Comment Policy