Experience, reputation make Israelis hot commodities for homeland security
By John P. Mcalpin, Associated Press, 3/21/2002 21:25
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) Israelis with military or security experience seem to have the inside track with U.S. corporations and government agencies looking for anti-terrorism expertise.
Boston's Logan Airport which came under heavy criticism because it was the departure point for the jetliners that brought down the World Trade Center hired a former security director for Israel's El Al Airlines in October.
In New Jersey, where authorities were faulted for poor intelligence operations after it was learned that several suspected terrorists lived and worked in the state, Gov. James E. McGreevey recently appointed an Israeli as his special counsel on homeland security.
Golan Cipel, a 33-year-old former campaign aide, had five years in Israel's navy and in its reserve. He resigned after weeks of complaints that his experience was inadequate and that his foreign citizenship prevented him from getting U.S. security clearances.
Still, his hiring underscored just how highly prized Israeli military experience is.
In addition, security consulting companies formed by Israelis are aggressively marketing their anti-terrorism services to corporations and other U.S. clients. And the Israeli consulate in New York held a trade show last month to promote Israeli security businesses to U.S. customers.
Experts say Israelis with military or security backgrounds provide an attractive combination of experience and mystique.
''When the Israelis faced more than 30 years ago the various security problems, they started to build up an infrastructure to respond to such threats,'' said Israel Boim, who founded a consulting company, Air Security International in Houston, in 1989 after a career with Shin Bet. ''From every terror attack they improved their system. What makes Israelis so attractive is now everyone can use their experience.''
Isaac Levy, former director of security for El Al, said: ''We know their habits. We know their trends. We know how they attack and we understand the way of thinking of the radicals and the extremists.''
After Sept. 11, Levy joined a security consulting business founded by a former commissioner of the Israeli police. The company said it has been hired to provide training for building managers and security officers at scores of office buildings and apartment houses in New York and other cities.
Military officers in Israel perform a combination of duties that in the United States get performed in pieces by the FBI, the Secret Service and local police, said Harvey Kushner, chairman of the criminal justice and security administration department at Long Island University.
Still, Boim warned that what is successful in the Middle East is not guaranteed to work here. He noted that Israeli security agents are trained in practices such as profiling that are problematic under U.S. law.
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