Allowed to Flee?
by Christopher Bollyn
Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, an Israeli military officer connected to the Odigo instant messaging company whose employees and users received an early warning of the 9/11 attacks, has recently become a fugitive from U.S. justice and taken refuge in Israel along with other prime suspects of the terror attacks.
Alexander, former head of the Israel-based Comverse Technology, was, until his crimes were discovered, one of the highest paid executives in the United States.
In the year 2000, for example, he reportedly earned some $102.5 million, with $93 million coming from the "exercise of options." We now know that most of Alexander's money was made through the fraudulent "exercise of options."
Comverse Technology, the U.S.-based "parent company" of an older and much bigger Israel-based company with the same name, is the owner of the Verint, Ulticom, Starhome, Mercom and Startel companies. The key positions in these companies are all held by Israeli nationals.
Alexander, was recently allowed to flee the United States after he and two other former Comverse executives were charged with securities, mail and wire fraud by U.S. prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
While a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York told AFP on August 15 that he "expected" that Alexander would turn himself in, The New York Times was rather less optimistic. "It will be a long time – if ever – before Alexander explains himself in a courtroom," the Times wrote on August 21.
Alexander's lawyer, Robert Morvillo, said he "believed" that Alexander and his family were on vacation in Israel. Alexander, an Israeli citizen and a former military officer, wired $57 million to an account in Israel at the end of July and was evidently allowed to flee the United States.
"Given Alexander's stature and military service," the Times reported, quoting unnamed law professors, "Israel might be reluctant to readily hand him over." One might reasonably ask, "What does the 54-year old Alexander's "military service" have to do with Israel refusing to extradite him for crimes committed in the United States?"
While Alexander is obviously connected with Israel's military intelligence apparatus and George Soros through the mutually owned investment fund ComSor, what is not widely reported is his company's close links with Odigo, the Israeli-run instant messaging company that received – and conveyed – urgent warning messages about the imminent terror attacks on the World Trade Center, several hours before the first plane hit.
The New York Times certainly must be well aware of the personal and business connection between Alexander and Odigo since they did an extensive interview with Avner and Maskit Ronen, the founders of Odigo, for their Sunday magazine in September 2000.
The magazine article about the Ronen's, titled "Immigrants with an I.P.O." could have been titled "Immigrants on a Mission." The Ronens, both with military backgrounds in computer science, "put down few roots," during their first years in New York City, the Times reported.
"They made no friends outside the office and had no taste at all for
networking at Silicon Alley parties," the NYT Magazine wrote. "They
sought neither driver's licenses nor a local physician." The bizarre
photograph in the article showed two silhouetted figures hidden in the
dark. These were the Ronens, Israeli military officers on a mission
in New York.
ODIGO INSTANT MESSAGES
There is ample evidence that many Israelis were forewarned of the attacks through an Israeli instant messaging service called Odigo. This story, which presents the clearest evidence of Israeli prior knowledge of the attacks, was reported only very briefly in the U.S. media – and then completely forgotten and deleted.
According to the news reports, at least two Israel-based employees of Odigo reported having received warnings of an imminent attack in New York City hours before the first plane hit the WTC.
Odigo, an Israeli-owned company had its U.S. headquarters only two blocks from the World Trade Center, yet Odigo failed to pass the warning it had received on to the authorities in New York, a move that would have saved thousands of lives.
Two weeks after 9-11, Alex Diamandis, Odigo's vice president, said, "The messages said something big was going to happen in a certain amount of time, and it did – almost to the minute."
"It was possible that the attack warning was broadcast to other Odigo members, but the company has not received reports of other recipients of the message," Diamandis said.
Based on the Israeli government figure that some 4,000 Israelis were expected to be in the World Trade Center at the time of the attacks, it seems evident that many Israeli Odigo users got the message.
Odigo, which offers real-time messaging, has a feature called "People Finder" which allows a user to send an instant message to a large group based on a common characteristic, such as Israeli nationality. "People Finder" allows Odigo users to search for online "buddies," with filters like Israeli nationality, while maintaining user privacy at all times.
The Internet address of the sender of the warning was reportedly given to the FBI. Two months later it was reported that the FBI was still investigating the matter. Since then there have been no further media reports about the Odigo warning of 9/11.
As AFP has previously reported, Odigo, like Comverse and other Israel-based software companies, is really headquartered in Herzliya, Israel, the suburb of Tel Aviv where Israeli military intelligence headquarters are located.
Typically, with these Israeli-intelligence linked outfits, the company's research and development, and any manufacturing, such as the "black box" computer surveillance equipment produced by Comverse, is all done in Israel. The U.S. offices merely function as distribution, marketing, and financial centers.
In the case of Comverse, for example, the real parent company was Alexander's Tel Aviv-based Efrat Future Technology Ltd., which carried out "all research, development, and manufacturing," for Comverse, according to a 1992 article in The Jerusalem Post.
Shortly after 9-11, Odigo was completely taken over by Comverse Technology, which had been part owner of Odigo since early 2000, if not earlier. Shortly after 9/11, five executives from Comverse were reported to have profited by more than $267 million from "insider trading."
Avner Ronen, the "founder" of Odigo, was Vice President of Business Development of Comverse Technology in October 2005. This indicates that Ronen and Alexander, both Israeli military officers with computer backgrounds, have been close business partners since early 2000.
"Comverse and Odigo have had a long-standing partnership and together have developed instant communications products and services that we have recently begun to offer to operators around the world," Zeev Bregman, CEO of the Israel-based Comverse Ltd., told The Jerusalem Post in May 2002.
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