"Intelligence sources" attempting to steer focus to China in murder of CIA employee....
March 30, 2009 -- Bennett case yields significant clues
WMR has uncovered some interesting tangents to the brutal assault in the early morning hours of March 22 of William Bennett and his wife Cynthia while they were on their regular early morning walk in their Landsdowne neighborhood in Loudoun County, Virginia, an exurb of Washington, DC. Bennett was killed in the attack and his wife, also a U.S. Army veteran, remains in critical condition at Fairfax Inova Hospital.
Previously, WMR reported that our sources in Loudoun County stated that although the CIA said Bennett, a retired U.S. Army Green Beret Lieutenant Colonel, had left the CIA in 2000 as a contract employee, Bennett continued to maintain a relationship with the agency at the time of his death. He reportedly also worked for U.S. government contractors and had been involved in training U.S. troops in Iraq.
Some 130 Landsdowne and Potomac Station residents turned out to remember William Bennett and pray for hs wife's recovery.
Although there is a great deal of interest in a suspicious white van with Florida tags that was spotted in the area on the Saturday evening before the attack on the Bennetts, some Loudoun County officials attempted to brush off the white van with Florida tags that was transporting "door-to-door" college students selling magazines as a non-issue and a "debunked" conspiracy. The presence of the door-to-door sales Florida college students in Loudoun County is being explained away as "kids on spring break."
This editor participated in a memorial walk held by local residents at 5:30 am on March 29. The candlelight and flashlight procession departed the Harris Teeter's supermarket in Landsdowne and retraced the Bennetts' routine early morning walk between their Potomac Station home to the supermarket and the return walk back to their home.
William Bennett's body was found near the fence between the two signs.
Cynthia Bennett was found on other side of fence section that has been removed for blood and other analysis.
Although local media had referred to the Bennetts as mysterious recluses, a conversation with a Harris Teeters employee yielded a much different picture of the couple. "They were friendly . . . I saw them come in every morning . . . they said hello, not much more, and were very nice," recounted the employee. The employee also knew the Bennetts had two daughters. "They mentioned their daughters," said the employee, adding, "they don't live around here."
WMR also learned from a source familiar with the attack on the Bennetts that they were found by police with either hoods or masks around their heads. A neighbor near the Goose Creek Bridge on Riverside Parkway reported that a white van was parked near where William Bennett's body was found and that around 5:38 am there was a noisy commotion with several people screaming and vehicle doors slamming. The van had reportedly left and returned to the crime scene several times.
There is some informed speculation by law enforcement officials that the Bennetts may have been abducted at another location and they were dropped off at the Goose Creek Bridge later by their assailants, that are now reported to have been at least three individuals. There is also the possibility that more than one white van was involved in the attack in order to throw off investigators. The hoods or masks reported to have been around the Bennetts' heads may also be a clue that their abduction invovled was a tortuous interrogation that saw the Bennetts fight back and that resulted in Mr. Bennett's murder and the attempted murder of hs wife.
A local resident told WMR that while on her way to work at 5:20 am she drove over Goose Creek Bridge and that it was very dark and that there was no one around. Bennett's body was discovered by police on the west side of Riverside Parkway shortly before 6:00 am. His wife was discovered about 30 minutes later on the other side of the four-lane parkway, which is separated by a median strip, on the other side of a bloodied white fence in lying in a ditch that extends into Goose Creek.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's department stated that they stopped a white van with Florida tags the previous Saturday evening after a report that it was "suspicious." The occupants were said to be college students from Florida with solicitors permits issued by the Loudoun County Sheriff's Department. There is also a report that a young male associated with the Florida-tagged van attempted to enter another home in nearby Leesburg Saturday evening but was chased away by the brother of the two female occupants whose parents had just departed for a wedding.
One area resident noted to WMR the significance of the location on Riverside Parkway where the Bennetts were found. Although it is sandwiched between two intersections that have video surveillance camera coverage -- Riverside Parkway and Belmont Ridge Road and Riverside Parkway and River Creek Parkway -- the segment of Riverside Parkway chosen by the assailants does not have any video surveillance coverage. However, in order for the assailants to drive to the location their vehicle should have been recorded by the cameras at either ot both of the other two intersections.
The Loudoun Independentnewspaper ran a story that a mass e-mailing to neighborhood residents tried to link the attack on the Bennetts to possible gang violence in Maryland and the District of Columbia. However, a top federal law enforcement official stated that there is absolutely no evidence that the attack on the Bennetts was gang related and that it appears that Bennett and his wife were specifically targeted by their assailants. Moreover, William Bennett had recently applied for a Virginia concealed gun permit.
The Loudoun County Sheriff's office later stated that reports of the geographically-targeted mass e-mailing were incorrect. Such an e-mailing designed to divert attention away from the white van from Florida would require sophisticated technological capabilities and some insider knowledge derived from the local Internet service providers in the area.
WMR is seeking to obtain the Loudoun County solicitor's permit granted to the Florida-based college students in order to identify the company for whom they worked and the names and nationalities of its principal officers.
William Bennett's body was found on the right side of Riverside Parkway, in the grassy area just past the lit street lamp and past Rocky Creek Drive. Cynthia Bennett was found critically injured in a ditch on the other side of the area of fence on the right that has been removed for forensic analysis.
When told of the same modus operandi of a number of suspicious white vans operated by fake Israeli art students in 2000 and 2001 that were seen casing the offices and residences of federal employees, a number of Landsdowne residents expressed surprise but said they were not convinced that the white van or vans seen in the area prior to the attack on the Bennetts were unconnected to the crime....FBI now involved in Bennett's obfuscation of the "investigation"...
Washington's NBC-4 is reporting that the FBI has joined in the investigation of the slaying of CIA employee William Bennett on March 22. FBI agents are scouring Bennett's CIA past to find out if he created any enemies from his work for the agency.
NBC-4 is also contradicting what some Loudoun County officials told this editor during a memorial walk to remember Bennett and his wife Cynthia, who remains in critical condition from the assault by unknown parties while the two were taking their regular early morning walk. The TV station reports: "The couple may have been attacked by three people seen driving suspiciously in the area in a white-panel van, investigators said." A Loudoun County official told this editor that the "white van story was debunked."
A suspicious white van with Florida tags was reported to be in the area at the time of Bennett's murder and the night before. The van was said to be transporting college students from Florida who were selling magazines door-to-door in Loudoun County during their spring break.
"Intelligence sources" also told NBC-4 that Bennett was one of the CIA officials who helped identify targets for U.S. air attacks in Belgrade during the May 1999 U.S. offensive on Serbia during the Kosovo conflict. The CIA claimed responsibility for erroneously identifying the Chinese embassy as a military target and killed three people at the embassy during the attack. Bennett was allegedly involved in the mistaken bombing, according to the intelligence source who spoke to NBC-4. However, to suggest Chinese agents may have killed Bennett and critically injured his wife is an obvious red herring designed to steer investigators and the press away from the foreign intelligence agency -- Israel's Mossad -- that has a well-documented history of using out-of-state vans to engage in threatening door-to-door sales activities in residential neighborhoods where federal law enforcement and intelligence employees, as well as military members, live.
Law enforcement investigators are also holding out the possibility that the Bennetts were attacked at another location and were later moved to the spot where they were found early in the morning of March 22.
The following is from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report on the activities of suspicious vans, some with Florida tags, across the country in the months prior to the 9/11 attacks:
Several local law enforcement agencies have provided information to the DEA Dallas office pertaining to recent encounters. On January 2, 2001, an 6officer of the Euless Police Department sighted a 1995 Chevy Van, white, California plate 3HXN005, parked with back doors opened behind a small office complex that was closed due to the Christmas/New Year holidays. The officer's initial inspection showed five persons present and that the rear of the van was filled with 40 to 50 framed artwork. Neither the frames nor the artwork appeared to be high quality, per the officer. The officer noted that the van and subjects were stopped in a non-residential area that consisted of a golf course, a chemical company and a storage facility for a defense contractor. When questioned, the subjects indicated they were selling paintings in the area, but were evasive in answering questions thereafter. For example, several subjects stated they were staying in Irving, Texas, but were not sure exactly where. The subjects were warned on the scene for selling paintings without a permit, and released.
At the time of the encounter Gilad LIFSHITZ, the driver of the van, was in possession of a Florida driver's license,number L123-280-78-337-0, that showed a DOB of 09/17/1978, and an address of 19115 Collins Ave # 102, Sunny Isles Beach, F1 33160. Sunny Isles Beach is in the Miami area. Perhaps coincidentally, per DEA's Office of Security Programs, two Israelis previously encountered in Miami were in possession of counterfeit US Social Security Cards. The cards were reportedly obtained in Miami from an unidentified person who was selling the cards near a Florida driver's license office.
On September 24, 1999, a Senior Investigator of Task Force Group T-11 two suspicious Israeli Nationals parked outside the New York Divisional Office in a white Chevrolet van.
Incident in Fredericksburg, Virginia: On Sunday evening March 18, 2001, about.8:00 PM an individual she described as a White male, 5'6 to 5'7 with medium dark complexion, dark curly hair, dark eyes, and a prominent nose came to her front door. The individual was wearing dark clothing and spoke with an accent, which she believed to be of Middle Eastern origin. The individual purported himself to be an Israeli Art Student, and attempted to sell Mrs. Behrmann pictures or paintings. Mrs. Behrmann noted that he had what appeared to be a small table or object leaning against his side. Mrs. Behrmann had virtually no dialog with the individual except to tell him she was not interested and immediately closed the door. Mrs. Behrmann did not see what if any vehicle the individual was driving, but did see a white van drive by her house, and make a "U' turn down the street a short time later. Mrs. Behrmann called the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's office to report the incident on a non-emergency line, and noted that a marked police car made a tour of the neighborhood about 20 minutes after the incident occurred.
KEDEM is an Israeli citizen who came to the United States with a group whose intention is to sell artwork. KEDEM arrived in the country during November 2000 in Miami, FL, via Mexico. KEDEM has visited several east coast cities including Miami, FL, Plantation, FL, and Atlanta, GA. KEDEM has been in Richmond, VA for about one week. KEDEM was in the company of five other Israeli nationals in the Richmond area, They are females; Limor PERLAS, Shiri ASE, Orit KEMETCH, and Shmrt MER and a male; Kobi BOUZAGLO. ASE is one of the females who solicited at the home of a local ATF Agent. The group is lodging at the Econo Lodge located at 6523 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, VA. KEDEM plans on leaving Richmond on Tuesday 3/13/01, via a flight from Newport News, VA, to Miami, FL. KEDEM will remain in Miami for a few days until returning to Israel via a flight out of New York City. KEDEM said he did not realize that he was soliciting at a U.S. Government office and said that he had no knowledge of the locations of any U.S. Government offices in the area. KEDEM also stated he did not have any knowledge of the addresses of any government employees in the area. KEDEM traveled in a van bearing Florida license plate #M31FHI.
On February 7, 2001, Inbar KOCHAVI, an Israeli National attempted solicitation at the Southeast Laboratory [Miami]. KOCHAVI was escorted out of the building. KOCHAVI was later located in an adjacent federal occupied building. A Special Agent, Federal Protective Service Officers and the Southeast Lab Security Specialist identified KOCHAVI as an Israeli art student visiting the U.S. for the first time. Apparently, she is staying with her friend Rani DRORE. KOCHAVI also stated DRORE is a 27-year-old male living in the Kendall, Florida area. KOCHAVI initially stated she was selling the artwork and utilizing the monies for scholarships. Later, she revealed that she wasn't selling the paintings, but presenting them to people and businesses in the U.S. for the purpose of promoting the art students in Israel. KOCHAVI could not spell the name of the school, but wrote out "Bezalel," located in Jerusalem [no record of her at the university]. KOCHAVI also revealed that she served time in the Israeli military as a secretary (A FPS Officer explained that all Israeli adults serve two years in the military upon reaching the age of 18). She claimed she is currently employed as a waitress at a restaurant called "Yotveta" in the city of "Hertzlia." [Mossad headquarters is in Herzliya]. KOCHAVI stated that she arrived in Miami, Florida either Friday, February 2, 2001, or Saturday, February 3, 2001. She stated she flew from Ben Gurion Airport in Israel to New York, and then to Miami. KOCHAVI'S passport has a U.S. Immigration stamp that indicates she landed in New York on December 31, 2000. KOCHAVI was asked about her transportation to and from the area and she stated her friend DRORE was dropping her off and picking her up. DRORE was expected to pick KOCHAVI up in a white van.
KOCHAVI was released and observed entering a blue van with Florida license plate #IA336J. The registration revealed the van to be owned by Legum YOCHAI of 13753 SW 90th Ave., Miami, Florida 33176
On 3/27/2001, approximately 1:45 p.m., Montgomery District Office Group Supervisor John W. Wall was exiting the elevator on the first floor of our building enroute to a meeting. Our building is a small two-story office building that also contains the offices of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Geological Survey, Dyncorp and a small investment company (Newman Investments). As G/S Wall got out of the elevator, a white female was getting on. G/S Wall noticed she was carrying a large blue artist portfolio. GIS Wall [not redacted]engaged her in conversation and asked if she was in our building on government business to which the female stated that she was an art student from Austria and was promoting her work. G/S Wall asked if she was actually from Israel and the female later identified as Vanina Erika DARDIC, DOB 3/5/78, stated again that she was from Austria. DARDIC got on the elevator for the second floor and G/S Wall went to his OGV and notified me with instructions to re-interview the female. Several minutes passed and DARDIC never came to our office. (Investigation later revealed that DARDIC did not visit any of the offices in our buildling. Moments later an administrative assistant observed DARDIC walking through the parking lot in the direction of other buildings. At that point, agents set out on foot to find DARDIC. The agents observed another white female later identified as Ester SAGES, DOB 9/30/77, walking through the office complex, also carrying a large blue portfolio. SAGES was followed on foot a short distance to a van that was parked on a side road where the agents made contact with a white male, identifitd as Marcelo VALANSI, DOB 11/24/77. VALANSI took SAGES' portfolio and placed it into the van, a 1984 GMC full-size custom van bearing Florida tag T11YZX, registered to Marcelo VALANSI at 901 SE 1st Ave., #2, Gainesville, Florida. Regarding the groups story as art students, specifically VALANSI stating that he is a student at the University of Florida out on spring break, RAC Dick McEnany, Gainesville R.O. inquired as to VALANSI's status as a student. RAC McEnany advised that VALANSI was last registered in the spring of 1999. RAC McEnany also stated that spring break was already over for this year.
On January 22, 2001, a third Israeli art student entered the lobby of the Houston Division and asked the Security Officer if he could utilize a pay phone. The Security Officer informed the student that there was no public phone available. The Security Officer asked the student if he had any artwork to sell. The student said, "yes," and proceeded to inform the Security Officer that another student visited the Houston Division a week ago to sell artwork. The Security Offlicer told the student that someone upstairs wanted to see the artwork. The Houston Division Special Agent/Security Officer S/A John Martin, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ric Ludowig, and another Special Agent interviewed the student. The Israeli art student was carrying a Florida State Driver's License(#B650-520-76-047-0). The information on the license was Lior BARAM, 10733 Cleary Blvd., #206, Plantation, Florida, 33324-0000, (DOB 02/07/76), 5'9", dark eyes and black hair. BARAM admitted to serving three years in the Israeli military and served his last two years in Intelligence, working with classified information. BARAM spoke fluent English with an accent. He also claimed to be an art student at Bezalel University in Jerusalem; however, he could not spell Bezalel. BARAM stated there were fifteen (15) Israeli art students in the Houston, Texas area attempting to sell their artwork.
Miami: In a Federal Protective Service report dated February 9, 2001, a FPS Officer while on patrol at a Federal facility adjacently located to DEA, was notified by a Security Officer that there were two individuals walking around the back of the building. The subjects stated that they were there from Israel to try to sell paintings for art school. The male subject was carrying an Israeli passport, a Florida State driver's license, and a Florida state ID card. The female subject had a Florida State driver's license and a Florida state ID card. The female subject could not provide a passport or visa from Israel. The subjects were detained and transferred to FPS Miami Headquarters where they were interviewed. Both subjects were issued tickets for "soliciting for commercial purposes."While interviewed, both subjects produced counterfeit social security cards. Both subjects stated they were approached by a man at the Florida State driver's license office and paid him $100.00 for the counterfeit social security cards. Both subjects were issued tickets for "possession of a false U.S, Government document." The male subject was identified as Ohad AHARON and the female as Yafit SEGAL. Later in the interview, SEGAL stated that they are not art students, but answered an ad in Israel to go to the U.S. to sell art. The company, which is located in Florida, is "Oil Paintings and Frames Universal Art," and the manager's name is ALMOG. SEGAL also stated that they had a disagreement with ALMOG, left the company, and decided to sell art on their own. The art is bought from a company in Los Angeles, California. SEGAL and AHARON were released and the case remains open with the U.S. Dept. of State.
Tampa: On March 1, 2001, at approximately 3:00 p.m., SA Kevin McLaughlin of the Tampa DO responded to a knock at one of the fifth floor office doors. (It should be noted that the Tampa DO occupies the fourth and fifth floors of a First Union bank Office building). The reception area is on the fourth floor, with the fifth floor doors being locked, and possessing no signs of identification.) At the door was a young female who immediately identified herself as an Israeli aii student who had beautiful art to sell. She was carrying a crudely made portfolio of canvas, matted, but unframed pictures. Taking note of the posted Miami Field Division Security Alert regarding a similar incident, SA McLaughlin invited her into one of the interview rooms and SA Adrian Chindgren joined him in listening to her presentation. She had approximately 15 paintings of different styles, some copies of famous works, and others similar in style to famous artists. When asked her name, she identified herself as Bella POLLCSON, and pointed out one of the paintings was signed by that name. She then changed her story and said that the paintings were not for sale, but that she was there to promote an art show in Sarasota, FL, and asked for the agents' business cards so that information regarding the show could be mailed to them. She was not able to say when, or where the show would take place. After this discrepancy, the agents began to question her more closely, and her responses were evasive at best. When asked whom she was with, she stated that she was dropped at this office building by her Team Leader, who knew everything and could answer more questions. The Team Leader was described as a male driving a red van, dropping off this female, with another four females and a male. Tampa DO agents then began searching the area around the Tampa DO office and found the individuals described by the young female. Two of the girls were on a street corner near another busy office complex area and as agents were speaking with thern, the red van pulled up. All were escorted to the Tampa DO for questioning. Agents from the Tampa DO then interviewed each of the subjects. Through identification that was produced, it wat revealed that the female who approached the Tampa DO and identified herself as Bella POLLCSON, was now identified as Inbal VAKSHI. The other subjects were: Sussie OSHRA, Keren KUZNITZ, Keren MATATIA, Livnat SELLA, Eli COHEN, Oshirt ZAGURI, Rachel KENDEL, and Hanan SERFATY. SERFATY, the driver of the red van, was identified as the Team Leader. All of the subjects gave ambiguous answers to the agents, but keeping to the story that they were Israeli art students. VAKSHI produced an Israeli identification card, an Israeli passport, a student identification card, and a Florida driver's license for Sarah Minna SASSOON. VAKSI stated that she had received the license from a friend of hers who was no longer living in Florida.
Orlando: On March 6, 2001, two males and one female student attempted to sell artwork at the IRS office in Maitland, Florida, The students appeared to be from the Middle East and possibly Israeli, according to the IRS agent. Two agents encountered the students and they were asked to wait while a supervisor was contacted. The students left and were followed to the parking lot. The students were seen getting into a vehicle bearing Florida license plate number D36-TTQ. The registration belongs to Seth Thomas BURKHOLDER of 3329 Bartlett Blvd., Orlando, Florida. The vehicle is a white 1995 Nissan pickup.
On February 27, 2001, Deputy U.S. Marshal (DUSM) Scott Ley observed two females fitting the profile of the Israeli art student seen at the Tampa Federal courthouse, standing on a street corner in downtown Tampa. They were carrying hand-made portfolios, approximately 4-ft. by 3-ft, made up of white foam core sides with heavily taped carrying handles. One of the females was followed into a commercial bank buildina where she proceeded to sell her paintings. She proceeded to other buildings in the area for the next hour, before joining a third female in the lobby of another bank building. The third female had set up her artwork in the lobby. Information obtained from the building management revealed a Florida IID card in the name of Keren KUZNITZ, and a telephone number for her "boss," The number, (954) 478-0961 is a Voice Stream Wireless cellular phone out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. 12. DUSM Ley approached this female and inquired about the paintings, She immediately identified herself as an Israeli art student named Keren. She stated that she was one of the ten students from a class of forty that traveled to the U.S. for one month selling their own artwork as a fundraiser. DUSM Ley purchased a painting for $150.00, and obtained additional information from KUZNITZ. The name of her "Team Leader" and/or "Boss" is Hanane SARFATI, and the name of the art school is BEZALEL. The "boss" was to pick the art students up in downtown Tampa at approximately 5:00 p.m. Additional surveillance revealed a dark-colored mini van, driven by a white male with dark hair, picking up approximately six females, all carrying similar "portfolios," in a crowded area during downtown Tampa rush hour. The Florida license plate on the van was U71 DLD, a 1991 red Dodge mini-van, registered to Hanane SARFATI, W/M, DOB 06/03/1977, 4220 Sheridan St. #303, Hollywood, FL, and 701 S. 21st Ave., Hollywood, FL. A Florida Driver's License check revealed S613-320-77-203-0 to belong to Hinane SARFATI, 4220 Sheridan St.,, #303, Hollywood, FL. This license has been suspended and is not currently valid. A short time later, SA Mangone saw a bronze/tan Ford Aerostar XLT, bearing Florida license number T37-VTH, arrive at the northeast comer of New Brittany Blvd. and College Parkway. Two other persons occupied this vehicle. These persons were subsequently identified as Nimrod SIMKIN and Inbal KEREN. MEIRAV and MACHBUBI then entered the vehicle.
. . . and from the New York Post on Sep. 13, 2001: Three men who celebrated as the Twin Towers crumbled are facing deportation, The Post has learned. The men, described as illegal immigrants from the Middle East, were arrested Tuesday afternoon in a white Chevy vannear the Meadowlands based on a tip from witnesses who saw them "cheering" and "jumping up and down" in Liberty State Park after the attack, a source said . . . The Jerusalem Postreported on October 26, 2001, that the Israelis were smiling as they photographed themselves with the collapsed towers in the background.