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Israel's 40-Year History of Espionage Against the United States

THE pattern of Israeli spying on the United States may be shown by a review of selected cases going back to the founding of the state of Israel. To the best of my knowledge, with one exception none of the cases below have previously been publicized. They are based on either documents released under the Freedom of Information Act or interviews with current counterintelligence agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or with retired FBI and Justice Department officials. 1940s - The first Israeli military attach'e sent to Washington in June 1948, Efraim Ben-Artzi, set up a four-man board to conduct espionage in the US. The board was composed of Ben-Artzi himself, a member of the Israeli US delegation in New York, a US citizen who was a New York lawyer, and a professional intelligence agent who came and went from Tel Aviv, operating as a case officer.

Early projects included a training center in New York which taught recruited agents the craft of espionage - such things as street and electronic surveillance and the use of disappearing inks, codes, and ciphers - and the bugging of the hotels and automobiles of key Arab United Nations delegations. There were from the outset, however, American targets as well. This probably included the ``acquisition'' and shipment to Czechoslovakia of a US developmental prototype of a small, mobile, early-approach radar, in exchange for Czech arms for the Haganah, the armed Jewish forces in Palestine.

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1950s - In 1956 a ``high Israeli official'' in Tel Aviv whose name was Eisenstadt approached American Embassy official Earl L. Jensen, offering to pay him for classified information and documents. Mr. Jensen pretended to accept the bait, and under the guidance of the FBI and the Justice Department, passed carefully selected material to two Israeli contacts named Abramski and Nevoth (these names are from a declassified State Department document in which only last names are given.)

When Jensen was reassigned to Washington, Abramski and Nevoth followed to continue the arrangement. As the Israelis had no diplomatic immunity in this country, the State and Justice Departments concurred in writing that prosecution should proceed under both the Foreign Agent Registration Act and applicable US espionage laws. Nevertheless, for reasons I have so far been unable to determine, Abramski and Nevoth apparently were not arrested and prosecuted.

1960s - In the mid-1960s the FBI expanded an existing Atomic Energy Commission investigation of the Nuclear Materials and Energy Corporation (NUMEC) in Apollo, Pa., for possible diversion of weapons-grade reprocessed uranium to Israel. The FBI's primary concern was the safety of classified documents on weapons-related technology, which were stored at Apollo. Frequent visitors from Israel had access to the documents, and one of those visitors, Rafael Eitan, was known to have Israeli intelligence connections. (Yes, it's the same Rafael Eitan involved in the Pollard case.)

In 1969, following recommendations of the FBI, NUMEC's US uranium reprocessing contracts were canceled, and it was decertified as a repository for weapons-related documents. Further, the security clearances of Dr. Zalman Shapiro, NUMEC's president, were lifted.

1970s - Perhaps the most abrasive and persistent person ever sent by Israel to spy upon America was Col. Yosef Langotsky, who came to the FBI's attention shortly after his assignment in mid-1976 to the Israeli Embassy in Washington as assistant army attach'e. Langotsky repeatedly wandered into secure areas at the Pentagon, and clumsily tried to recruit Pentagon employees to commit espionage. After several warnings to the Israeli Embassy, the Defense Department simply refused him all cooperation and any access to the Pentagon. In early 1979, Langotsky was quietly recalled to Israel by his government.

1980s - In 1983, the Defense Intelligence Agency's security office searched the workplace and home of a senior staff member of the Defense Intelligence College. Several of his colleagues had reported the individual for what they thought were security improprieties involving Israeli military and intelligence officials. No classified material was located during the search, though hundreds of the college's library books were found which had been obtained fraudulently and subsequently mutilated or destroyed. The Defense Department turned the matter over to a federal prosecutor.

In an arrangement with the prosecutor, the individual pleaded guilty in federal district court in Alexandria, Va., in November 1983 to ``injuring government property'' and was convicted, fined, and sentenced to a term of community work. The arrangement included his immediate resignation as a civilian staff member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, of which the college is part. None of the security aspects of the case were ever brought to trial. Nevertheless, according to agency officials, ``important'' classified material was found to be missing from the college library during the investigation. The individual involved is currently director of Mideast studies at a university in the Washington, D.C., area.

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