When the Christmas bomber set his underpants on fire, he placed the Israeli security firm ICTS (which has all sorts of links to Mossad and Shin Bet) in the hot seat
The Israeli firm ICTS International (not to be confused with ICTS Europe, which is a different company), and two of its subsidiaries are at the crux of an international investigation in recent days, as experts try to pinpoint the reasons for the security failure that enabled Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board Northwest flight 253 and attempt to set alight explosives hidden in his underwear.
As I noted in an earlier post, visitors to the ICTS Europe web site will see a disclaimer insisting that that the company has no linkage to Schiphol Airport. Yet publicity materials offered by the same company included the following announcement:
ICTS International N.V. (Nasdaq: ICTS) announced today that it has formed a partnership arrangement with ICTS Europe Holdings BV, an unaffiliated party, to provide security services at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in The Netherlands.
I give links for all of this in my previous post
Given the wording of the afore-quoted announcement, I am wondering just who decided that the world needs two separate airport security firms named International Consultants on Targeted Security. The web page for ICTS Europe
. The page for ICTS International
(ICTS International has the word "international" in its name twice
.) Both are headquartered in Amsterdam
; if you look for the two offices on Google Earth, you'll see that they are roughly three miles apart, located in nondescript buildings.
Nevertheless, ICTS International insists that ICTS Europe is a "different entity
'Twas not ever so. ICTS Int used to own ICTS Europe
until 2002. This SEC filing indicates that the deal to divest
was cemented in 2000. No online source explains the business reason for this mitosis. When the split occurred, ICTS Europe was sold for $100 million to a security company called Civas
, owned by the Frankfurt airport. Is Civas a real company? Yes: Here's the address
and here's a page
saying that they handle baggage control around the world. And yet I can't find a web site. You'd think that a firm that could cough up $100 million would be able to afford a web site.
Ah well. One could go mad trying to track these corporate maunderings. Let's get back to the latest
The ICTS daughter company, I-SEC, has another daughter company - called PI (Pro-Check International). The firms provide security services to airports: consultation, instruction, training, inspection and supervision.
As we've already seen, ICTS has a particular fondness for division and sub-division. The afore-cited SEC filing has this to say about Procheck, the company which (as of that date) provided
aviation security services at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands. Procheck also holds 2/3 of the shares in APS Data Screening Systems B.V., which owns the APS software, on the basis of which the Company [ICTS Int.] provides technology-based aviation services. Another subsidiary of the Company holds the remaining 1/3 shares in APS.
Yada yada. I honestly don't know why so many
sub-companies have to be involved in order for anything to get done in the world of airport security.
Apparently, this APS software is said to have failed on Christmas Day, even though there were plenty of indicators that this Nigerian required attention. By "indicators," I mean the strange nature of his route, as well his origin point and the fact that he paid in cash. I'm not referring to the placement of his name on a U.S. terrorist database, the warning to the CIA from Big Daddy, the U.K.'s refusal to allow him back into that country, or the claim that the CIA had been watching him for months.
Oddly enough -- or maybe not so oddly -- Israeli airports do not
use the APS system.
The closest thing to a full corporate history of ICTS is here
(scroll down about halfway.) The listed owners of ICTS are Menachem J. Atzmon and Ezra Harel. (A correspondent tells me that Harel has died.)
Atzmon, who runs several companies, is an interesting fellow. Quite a few websites report that he was convicted of masterminding a scheme
to channel illegal campaign contributions to Israel's right-wing Likud party. His (unconvicted) partner in that was Ehud Olmert, later the Prime Minister.
If you try to trace all of the holdings of Atzmon and the other ICTS luminaries, you'll soon get very dizzy. They run quite a few venture capital firms and have a hand in many, many enterprises.
For what it is worth, Wayne Madsen
links the Pollard spy case to ICTS -- alas, Madsen's garbled syntax makes the relevant passage difficult to understand. Here's what I can put together from other sources: One of the managers of ICTS is Major General Amos Lapidot, formerly the head of the Israeli Air Force and a director of the airline El Al. Lapidot was, according to various accounts (including this one
), one of the high-level Israelis who was made perfectly aware of Jonathan Pollard's spying activities in the U.S. on behalf of Israel. "When he [Pollard] was arrested, they tore themselves away from him and fled as if from fire." Nevertheless, these Israeli VIPs mounted a Pollard defense fund. Pollard had a co-conspirator in the Israeli Air Force who, after the spy's arrest, received a promotion; protests from the U.S. eventually forced Lapidot to ask for his resignation.Elsewhere...
There is a report that the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has invited Alhaji Umar Mutallab
, the wealthy Nigerian banker who spawned the undie-bomber, to appear at a hearing on January 20. Big Daddy will not pay
for his kid's lawyers, even though he showed up for Farouk's hearing in Detroit. (He pled not guilty.)
If you want to read an interesting Nigerian perspective on this dubious family, go here
I'm becoming interested in the reports that Farouk seemed to be "in a trance" throughout the incident. According to this report, Jasper Schuringa -- who wrestled Farouk out of his seat -- said
"He was shaking. He didn't resist anything. It's just hard to believe that he was trying to blow up this plane. He was in a trance. He was very afraid."
This report says that Shuringa received burns on his hands, apparently from a "burning liquid" that dripped onto the floor. Would PETN liquify? If not, then what was
If Shuringa was burned, one can only imagine the pain that Farouk was in. Yet the kid remained eerily calm
'He was staring into nothing. The whole plane was screaming, but the suspect, he didn't say a word.'
Religious zealotry? Or -- and I hesitate even to mention such a foily idea -- drugs and/or hypnosis?Update:
Lori Haskell, one of the two witnesses to the "well dressed man" who helped Farouk, has a blog called "Lori's liberal realm."
I really like her. From her self-description: "i don't like most lawyers, even though i am one. i hate showy lifestyles and those who flaunt what they have."
She says that another witness (aside from her husband and herself) confirms the existence of the well-dressed man at Schiphol...
...however, this person does not want to come out in public and tell their story, as they are worried they will suffer some sort of backlash as we have. How sad is that? They have read people talking badly about us online, and they don't want the same thing to happen to them or their family.