Cells of young Israeli intelligence operatives continue to openly solicit relationships with U.S. military personnel from shopping mall kiosks, according to an informed source.
WMR has learned that one such kiosk operates at the MacArthur Center Mall in Norfolk, Virginia, where a number of U.S. Navy personnel from the nearby naval bases are regularly confronted by aggressive young Israelis selling Dead Sea cosmetic products who inquire about where the personnel are stationed and the nature of their jobs. Young Israeli women working at the kiosk also appear to want to strike up a closer relationship with some of the naval personnel.
The use of young Israelis, many of whom continue to serve in a reserve status with the Israel Defense Force, as intelligence agents, has changed somewhat over the past decade. Young Israeli “art students” first conducted unsolicited visits to the homes and offices of federal and military employees trying to sell cheap Chinese-made bogus Israeli artwork while casing neighborhoods and office buildings.
Israeli-operated mall kiosks have transitioned from selling toys to cosmetics.
On August 7, 2005, WMR reported: In November 2001, the INS arrested several Israelis, including some with military backgrounds, selling Puzzle Car and Zoom Copter toys from shopping mall kiosks and vending carts. Many of the malls were located near U.S. government facilities, including the Pentagon and CIA. A majority of the Israelis, arrested for visa violations instead of espionage, worked for a Florida-based company called Quality Sales. A spokesman for the company admitted the company hired vacationing Israeli students but they had the wrong visas. The spokesman also revealed the Israelis were deemed “special interest” cases by INS-- a new government designation applied to terrorism suspects in the wake of 911. Federal authorities suspect the Israelis were using the kiosks as intelligence fronts in the same manner that Israelis were using door-to-door art sales as covers. The National Counterintelligence Center (NCIX) stated in a report issued in March 2001 that, “In the past six weeks, employees in federal office buildings located throughout the United States have reported suspicious activities connected with individuals representing themselves as foreign students selling or delivering artwork. Employees have observed both males and females attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings.” The report was temporarily removed from the NCIX web site.
One of the malls where the Israeli”toy sellers” based their operations was the Pentagon City Mall, just across Interstate 395 from the Pentagon. In July 2004, the mall served as the rendezvous point for alleged Israeli Pentagon spy Larry Franklin and Keith Weissman, an AIPAC official. Franklin warned Weissman that Iranian agents were going to start attacking American soldiers and Israeli agents in Iraq. Weissman then went to brief the account of the meeting to Steve Rosen, another senior AIPAC official. They both informed the Israeli embassy in Washington and Glenn Kessler, a reporter for The Washington Post. Those phone calls were being wiretapped by the FBI as part of its investigation of a major Israeli spy ring in the United States, an investigation that had been going on since before the 9/11 attacks. The FBI was also monitoring meetings between Franklin, Weissman, and Rosen, including one held in February 2003 at the Arlington, Virginia, Ritz-Carlton hotel, which adjoins the Pentagon City Mall.
In February 2005, an Israeli man named Ohad Cohen was deported, along with four other Israelis, from Omaha, Nebraska. In what was becoming a common occurrence in the United States, a total of 10 Israelis, who were working at shopping mall kiosks in the Omaha and Lincoln areas, were deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for illegally working in the United States on tourist visas. The Israelis operated out of Omaha’s Oak View Mall and Lincoln’s Gateway Westfield Mall. The Federal government probe was reported to be part of a wider probe of Israeli shopping mall kiosk activity throughout the Midwest. In December 2004, FBI and immigration officers arrested 15 Israelis in Minnesota and three operating from a mall kiosk in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Omaha is also the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC).