In the years 2000 and 2001 there were a large number of Israelis, male and female of about military age, selling cheap art door to door in the United States. There were reports of them in or near many cities, including Montgomery, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Little Rock, New Orleans, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Kansas City, Washington D.C., and Richmond.1 A consumer protection alert from a local Seattle TV station said that the Israelis had agressive sales tactics, gave different stories about what their profits would be used for, and generally scrammed when asked for their business license.2 Whether by design, or by sheer force of numbers, they soon became known to a number of federal law enforcement agencies.The federal professionals had a number of different opportunities to observe and even question the young Israelis, but there wasn't anything like an official investigation, or a systematic attempt to find out how many there were, or whether or not they were doing anything besides selling paintings. There were a few common threads:
There were also disturbing quirks in the "art students" behavior. One young Israeli woman tried to sell paintings to an EPA Special Agent at his home, and returned later to photograph his house. Two "art students" carried counterfeit Social Security cards. Telephone numbers in the possession of another were linked to an ongoing Ecstasy investigation.4 It was only after 9/11, that federal investigators, especially in the DEA, would begin to take the "art students" very seriously, and wonder especially about connections between these young Israelis and the 9/11 hijackers.
1 DEA Report Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities, Miami Division, Paragraphs 1-182,
2 KOMO News, Information on an Israeli Art Scam , No longer available on the net
3 DEA Report, Background
4 DEA Report, Background
A Wayne Madsen source interviewed an Israeli "art student", who was also a British national. She had lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a year, and then worked in the United States as an "art student."1
She became suspicious when questioned about her time in the U.S.2
On the morning of September 11, 2001 she was near the Pentagon at the time of the impact, and saw the famous gaping hole in the building. She had a ticket to fly out of New York City on September 12. She arrived in New York on the 12th, but was unable to leave since commercial flights had been cancelled.3
She was able to cross the border into Canada. When Wayne Madsen's source asked why she was in such a hurry to leave the United States, she said that the American government suspected Israelis of being involved in 9/11.4
On the first of March, 2001, a young woman knocked on an unmarked fifth floor door of the First Union Bank building in Tampa, Florida. She was carrying a portfolio containing a number of canvas paintings. What she was thinking when she knocked on the door, and whether or not she knew she was knocking on the door of a DEA office is unknown. When a DEA special agent answered the door, she told him that she was an Israeli art student selling paintings, and the agent, aware of at least one similar incident, and concerned about security, asked her into an interview room. Here they were joined by another DEA agent, and a question and answer session began.1
The young Israeli woman identified herself as Bella Pollcson, pointing to the signature of Bella Pollcson on one of the fifteen or so paintings she carried in her portfolio. At this point, probably acutely aware that she was no longer in charge of the situation, she changed her story, saying that in fact she wasn't selling paintings, but was promoting an upcoming art show in Sarasota. Would the agents give her their business cards so that she could notify them about the Sarasota exhibition? The agents asked when this art show would occur, and the young Israeli woman said she wasn't sure. Then she was questioned more closely, and her answers were described as "evasive at best."2
"Bella Pollcson" told the agents that she was part of a group, and that she had been driven to this particular Tampa destination by her "team leader," who drove a red van. The agents located the red van nearby, along with a number of members of the group. At this point, an unspecified number of agents questioned members of the group individually, and found that although they gave ambiguous answers, they all claimed to be Israeli art students. The tactic of questioning each separately revealed that "Bella Pollcson" was actually named Inbal Vakshi, and she was found to be carrying a Florida driver's licence in the name of Sarah Minna Sassoon, with a Hollywood, Florida address. According to the report's version of her story, Sarah Sassoon was a friend, who on leaving Florida, gave Inbal Vakshi her driver's licence.3
The team leader, Hanan Sarfaty, also had a Hollywood, Florida address, as did Oshirt Zaguri, while Keren Kuznitz had an address in nearby Fort Lauderdale. None of the other members of this particular group was associated in the DEA report with any US address.4
Ziad Jarrah's Florida driver's license had a Hollywood, Florida address
After the beginning of April, 2001, Hollywood, Florida appears again and again in an FBI chronolgy of hijacker activities5,6:
So, at the beginning of March, 2001 more than one "art student" was living in a midsized South Florida city where a number of the 9/11 hijackers would be a month later.
It isn't possible to say how improbable it is that these young Israelis, posing as art students, were at the same place, slightly removed backward in time, from the 9/11 hijackers. Why? Because it simply isn't known how many "art students" there were altogther. It is possible to say that if this coincidence in location isn't due to chance, then the fact that the "art students" appear to have been there first is a stronger indication that the "art students", or others related to them, controlled the hijackers, rather than that the "art students", or their associates, followed the hijackers, and so were controlled by the hijackers movements.
1 DEA Report Suspicious Activities Involving Israeli Art Students at DEA Facilities, Miami Division, Paragraph 76
2 DEA Report, Paragraph 76
3 DEA Report, Paragraphs 76-80
4 DEA Report, Indexing Section, Items 31, 37, 39, 42
5 Working Draft Chronology for Hijackers and Associates, Part 1, 132-149 https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-01-of-02/view
6 Working Draft Chronology for Hijackers and Associates, Part 2, 150-159 https://vault.fbi.gov/9-11%20Commission%20Report/9-11-chronology-part-02-of-02/view