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9.11 investigation

'Learn to Fly in Florida' business card found on Israeli arrested after high speed chase

The second widely-publicized post-9/11 arrest of Israelis in rented moving vans also had national security implications. In May 2002 Fox News first reported that two Israelis with altered passports had been apprehended in a rental truck containing traces of TNT and plastic explosives, on a state highway running past Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, home of the Navy's fleet of electronic warfare Prowler jets.
'Learn to Fly in Florida' business card found on Israeli arrested after high speed chase in Tennessee
May 11--Venice,FL.
by Daniel Hopsicker

Two Israelis driving a moving van were arrested in Tennessee last Saturday after leading police on a high-speed chase, marking at least the third time since 9/11 that Israelis in moving vans suspected of espionage in the U.S. have been taken into custody.

Taken into custody in the incident were Israeli nationals Shmuel Dahan and Almaliach Naor. In the wallet of 23-year old Dahan, an Israeli military veteran living in Miami Beach, police discovered a "Learn to Fly in Florida" business card.

"I got a sick feeling when I saw it (the business card)," Kent Harris, Sheriff of Unicol County in Tennessee, told the Associated Press, expressing concern about the proximity of the nearby Nuclear Fuel Services plant in Erwin.

"Its the nation's sole provider of fuel for the Navy's nuclear subs," he explained in a phone interview Monday evening.

The MadCowMorningNews has learned exclusively that the 'learn to fly in Florida' business card is that of Nissan Giat, also an Israeli military veteran, he said, as well as a free-lance flight instructor in the Miami area, working out of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

"These guys aren't terrorists, they belong to the Israeli military," he protested, in a telephone interview Monday night.

"Lost in America"

The chase began late Saturday afternoon when County Sheriffs noticed a rental moving truck traveling at a high speed along former U.S. Highway 23, a lightly traveled highway near the North Carolina state line.

"They were driving recklessly and at a high rate of speed down an old highway that nobody uses anymore," Harris told us. "I was really concerned because the driver would not stop after I flashed my headlights for nearly three miles. He was weaving back and forth, and I was wondering what a large truck was doing on a two-lane highway instead of the much-faster I-26 interstate."

Witnesses saw the men throw something from the truck while they were being pursued, said the sheriff. Officers scouring the area later found a vial containing an unknown substance along the roadway.

Police said the liquid in the 12-ounce plastic container was thick, like liquid drain cleaner. Because of slowness at the State Crime Lab, Harris said it has been sent it to a nearby private lab to be tested.

"It looks like weed killer, but with a little bit of grain in it," Sheriff Harris told the MadCowMorningNews.

A lawyer representing the Israeli men, William Lawson, said the vial contained a "fuel source," but added that it hasn't been identified and authorities were treating it with caution.

The attorney said the men accidentally got off the Interstate and got lost while hauling furniture to Massachusetts and West Virginia. "They got lost, big time," Lawson said. "It doesn't seem like they have anything to hide."

County Sheriff Kent Harris wasn't buying it.

"The furniture in the moving van was so old that its hard to see why anybody would want to move it anywhere," he told us. "Also it was three miles before we could get them to pull over. Why would they flee?"

Also casting doubt on the Israeli attorney's version of events was the Sheriff's revelation that the men had rented a storage unit in nearby Mars Hill, North Carolina, seemingly contradicting the story of two foreigners wandering lost in America.

"Ain't got to show you no stinking watch list!"

The FBI's response to the potential terrorist threat was characteristically laconic.

Special Agent Gary Kidder, spokesman for the FBI's Knoxville field office, said the agency was not investigating the two men, but monitoring the situation and assisting local police.

"They told us the two Israelis aren't on any known watch list," stated Sheriff Harris.

Dahan gave authorities a fake Florida driver's license issued in Plantation, Fla., police said, while Naor produced a fake identification card.

Attorney Lawson said Naor doesn't speak English and used the fake ID to get into a Miami nightclub. He said they were both in the country legally.

"We're trying to get these gentlemen released," Lawson said. "They were just traveling through, headed up north."

Israelis in Moving Vans: Scene I

The Tennessee arrests are eerily-similar to two other widely-publicized incidents involving Israelis in moving vans engaged in suspicious activity since the 9/11 attack.

In the first, five men in a moving van they were driving for their employer, Urban Moving Systems in Weehawken, N.J., were stopped by police at about 3 p.m. Sept. 11 after two women saw them standing on the roof of the moving company van and smiling as they took pictures of each other with the burning World Trade Center in the background.

The men -- ages 22 to 27 and all single - carried box cutters. One had 4,000 in cash, another had a camera, and a third had two passports because he is also a German citizen.

No terrorism charges were ever filed. A spokesman for the Israeli Consulate in New York said flatly: "We were told specifically that they are not suspects" in the terror attacks.

After Sept. 11, more than 60 Israelis, many of whom were working for moving companies, were deported for visa violations, including the five from Israel working illegally for Urban Moving Systems, a New York City company that closed its doors Sept 14 2001. Its owner went back to Israel, abandoning a collection of New Jersey warehouses.

A possible link to the latest incident

News accounts of the Sept 11 2001 arrest quoted a sister of one of the arrested Israelis, Heni Kayea, telling reporters she lived in North Carolina, possibly linking it to the latest incident, which occurred on the North Carolina-Tennessee border.

Israelis in Moving Vans: Scene II

The second widely-publicized post-9/11 arrest of Israelis in rented moving vans also had national security implications. In May 2002 Fox News first reported that two Israelis with altered passports had been apprehended in a rental truck containing traces of TNT and plastic explosives, on a state highway running past Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, home of the Navy's fleet of electronic warfare Prowler jets.

Local police initially pulled the Israelis over for speeding, and became more suspicious at the truck driver's insistence that they were moving furniture—a claim that did not seem to mesh with the late hour.

The men were arrested after one was found to be in possession of an altered passport, and the other was unable to produce any identification other than an Israeli driver's license.

Involved in the subsequent investigation were Naval Intelligence, the FBI, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Even as the Navy dogs who had detected traces of explosives in the Israeli's van were being praised by local newspapers, authorities stated that tests which initially revealed traces of explosives had shown 'false positives' and been 'in error.'

Reporters asking about the "furniture delivery in the middle of the night" were told investigators had spoken with an elderly lady at an senior-care housing facility who confirmed the men's account.

Authorities say she claimed that two men fitting the description of the Israelis dropped off furniture at her facility in the middle of the night.

The MadCowMorningNews reported exclusively at the time that, just one week after providing the Israelis' alibi, the elderly woman inexplicably moved, and could not be found to verify her account.

A spokeswoman at the elder-care facility declined to give out any information concerning her present whereabouts.

Israelis in Moving Vans: 21st Century UFO's?

In the wake of the latest incident, we have discovered several other less-publicized post-9/11 incidents involving Israelis in moving vans.

A July 9, 2002 story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a Wisconsin couple had been victimized by an Israeli mover, Oshri Cohen, 30, who was charged with felony common law robbery in Davie County, North Carolina.

Eventually sixteen Florida-based moving companies, mostly owned and operated by Israeli nationals, were accused of using "strong-arm tactics." 74 employees were accused of wire fraud, extortion, false billing, money laundering and conspiracy.

"Florida moving companies indicted in alleged scheme to inflate prices," read the headline on a March 5, 2003 AP account. "The companies, which operated under 42 different names, all declined comment, had no published telephone listings or didn't answer calls from the Associated Press."

The indictments came after a nearly two-year FBI investigation.

Miami-based Advanced Moving Systems' owner Zion Rokah and his employees were charged with 60 counts of extortion, conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and making a false bill of lading. The indictments against Rokah also include a forfeiture provision for at least $1 million, two parcels of land, four moving trucks and five bank accounts.

"It's all against the Jews. The police are lying. They are corrupt," Rokah stated in a May 4, 2002 story in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He claimed his company, based in Sunrise, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, was "being targeted by a police network that has targeted Israeli-owned moving companies," and being "victimized by stupid, small town, redneck police" who "hate Jews and strangers."

"Stupid people in stupid small towns"

"You know they are so stupid, those small towns. They are thinking we are like a crime organization, like a hundred companies and all these things."

A Miami-based FBI spokeswoman, (the FBI maintains a website on the scam) said forty-six people were arrested, but Rokah was still at large.

Danny Biran, consul at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, explained that it's very common for young Israeli men to come to the United States after fulfilling their three-year military commitment and before entering college.

"There are a lot of Israeli guys after they finish their duty in the army they want to go to Australia, Japan, Thailand, Greece and the U.S.," he said. "They want to see the world."

Last month a federal jury in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. convicted Odelia Shmuelov and Rafi Rafael Rokah, both Israelis, on extortion and fraud charges for operating moving companies that swindled customers.

Rafi Rokah is the cousin of Zion Rokah, owner of Advanced Moving Systems, who is believed to have fled to Israel, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Castillo of the U.S. attorney's Southern District of Florida office.

A request has not been made to extradite Zion Rokah from Israel, said Castillo, who wouldn't say whether such a request would be made.

A 'Learn to Fly in Florida" Crime Syndicate?

"The industry is a legal crime syndicate," said James Balderrama, who started an Internet site after being ripped off by movers. "Since I started this web site in June of 2001, I have endured death threats, harassing phone call, e-mail spam attacks, and other intimidating types of behavior."

A functionary in a continuing criminal enterprise run by Israelis is found with a 'Learn to Fly in Florida' business card in his wallet...

The news seems designed to set "conspiracy theorists" hearts aflutter.

We wondered what to make of it.

A hearing on the latest incident was scheduled for Tuesday morning before Judge David Schultz at Unicol County Courthouse.

Until then, the two Israelis were being held on a 'no bond' order, said Sheriff Harris. The moving van, rented from a Ryder office in the Miami area, was also being held.

homepage: homepage: http://www.madcowprod.com/

See Also on Portland IMC: 11.May.2004 18:58

(with comments and further references)

Two Israelis Arrested After High-Speed Chase In Ryder Truck, Vial Of "Substance" Thrown

their photo 11.May.2004 20:02


I sure would be interested to learn what was in that 'vial'. Although 12oz sounds more like a can of pop sized jar than a vial.

FBI now testing "bottle" with powder and liquid in it. 11.May.2004 23:41



The FBI is now testing a bottle thrown from the truck during the pursuit.

Robert White, the community member who found the bottle, says it had a powder and liquid in it.

The above article is 2 days newer than the wcyb article 12.May.2004 02:10


Concerning the substance:

"Police said the liquid in the 12-ounce plastic container was thick, like liquid drain cleaner. Because of slowness at the State Crime Lab, Harris said it has been sent it to a nearby private lab to be tested."

Perhaps the Sheriff only gave the FBI a sample.

new zealand. 12.May.2004 16:56

this thing here

last month there were reports out of new zealand about two israeli nationals who were arrested for involvement in organized crime and fradulent passports. the new zealand government alleged the two men had ties to mossad.

The FBI say so: 12.May.2004 17:10


Contents of vial linked to Israelis not a threat
By Julie Ball, Staff Writer
May 11, 2004 10:50 p.m.

ERWIN, Tenn. - A bottle that authorities say was tossed onto a Tennessee highway during a chase Saturday contained a latex stripper and an acid compound but didn't pose any threat of explosion, according to the FBI and authorities in Unicoi County.

"It's really no more than littering to be honest," said Thomas Browne, supervisor at the FBI's Johnson City, Tenn., office.

Two Israeli men arrested as a result of the chase remained jailed Tuesday afternoon. Immigration officials planned to hold them for a hearing because of a problem with their passports, said Unicoi County Sheriff Kent Harris. Harris said the men had tourist passports, but they were apparently working in the U.S. moving furniture.

Harris arrested the men Saturday after chasing them for more than two miles. He spotted the rented Ryder truck they were in driving "erratically" on Old U.S. 23 in Unicoi County, just across the state line from Madison County. Investigators found a fake Florida driver's license in a duffel bag in the truck and found the business card of a Florida flight instructor in one of the men's wallets.

Shmuel Dahan, 22, was charged with reckless driving, evading arrest, littering and false identification. Almaliach Naor, 19, was charged with false identification. A judge on Tuesday set a $5,000 bond for Naor and a $10,000 bond for Dahan. Once they post bond, the men will be turned over the immigration officials, Harris said.

The two men say they were on their way to West Virginia to deliver some furniture. Their attorney says they got lost and ended up on the curvy, mountain road.

Witnesses told authorities they saw someone toss a brown bottle from the truck during the police chase. The men maintain they did not throw out the container.

Harris said tests showed the bottle contained a mixture of Astromid 18, Gluconic acid and water. Astromid 18 is a latex stripper/cleaner, according to Harris.

Gluconic acid is "a slightly modified version of glucose (a sugar)," from a safety standpoint, equivalent to vinegar, according to Brad Sturgeon, assistant professor in chemistry at Western Carolina University.

Harris said it's not clear why the two were mixed together.

An official from Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not be reached Tuesday to comment on the status of the men.