'Most pro-Israel administration evah' refused to assist Israel in locating body of missing IDF soldier
I'm sure that many of you recall the incident from this past summer in which the body of IDF soldier Oron Shaul was snatched
from a burnt out APC in Gaza City's Shujaiyya neighborhood. It now turns out that the IDF requested assistance from the FBI in finding Oron's body and was turned down. Why the FBI? Because Hammas hacked into Shaul's Facebook page and Facebook's servers are located in the United States. The IDF hoped that it could find out where Hamas was located using the IP address from which Hamas was posting to the Facebook page. Walla.com (via Israel Hayom) explains.
On July 22, as international
news reports carried Hamas' claim of Shaul's capture, the IDF really had
no idea whatsoever what happened to the Israeli soldier. The only
statement made by the IDF at that point was that Shaul was missing in
action. Even two days later, the IDF still did not know if Shaul had
been kidnapped by Hamas or whether he was dead.
Kidnapping an Israeli soldier is one of the
highest priorities for Hamas, since Israel has in the past proven
willing to trade large numbers of imprisoned terrorists to get back just
one soldier, as happened in the case of Gilad Schalit. The news of
Hamas' alleged kidnapping triggered wild celebrations in Gaza.
The IDF and Israeli intelligence agencies
initiated a massive man hunt for Shaul, but to no avail. "We simply did
not know whether he was alive or not," an Israeli military official told
me, "or whether Hamas had killed him or whether Hamas had simply
kidnapped his body. But we had immediately set up a dragnet around the
entire area to encircle the terrorists and prevent them from leaving the
general area. We knew we did not have much time."
The dragnet proved porous, as Hamas terrorists
had many ways of escaping especially through the network of underground
tunnels they had built.
But in hacking Shaul's Facebook page, Hamas
may have inadvertently given away the location of the terrorists who had
Shaul or his body. That's because whenever a Facebook account is
accessed, Facebook's servers would automatically keep a record of the
Internet Protocol address where the account was accessed. IP addresses
are leased, which then can provide a geographic location of the IP
address where the Facebook account was hacked. In addition, there was
also a remote possibility that Shaul had been carrying his cell phone
although Israeli soldiers are not supposed to take their cell phones
into battle. But if he had done so, then it was also theoretically be
possible that Hamas had hacked into the mobile Facebook application on
Shaul's phone. If the Israelis could obtain the Facebook server data as
soon as possible, they thought they might have had a chance to find the
whereabouts of the Hamas terrorists who took Shaul.
Israel made an urgent appeal to the FBI for
help in trying to determine the remote source or information that would
be stored on Facebook servers indicating the location where Shaul's page
had been hacked. Upon receiving the request from Israel in Washington
on July 21, the FBI immediately issued a "preservation letter" to
Facebook ordering them to preserve all data saved on their server
pertaining to the Shaul's account.
At 4:25 p.m. on July 21, the FBI contacted a
United States Attorney's Office in a nearby district to initiate the
legal process to get a court order to serve Facebook for server
information on the account belonging to Israeli soldier Oron Shaul.
"Due to HAMAS status as a Designated Terrorist
Organization (DTO), there is a great effort to locate those who
kidnapped and/or killed ORON," read an FBI email to the U.S. Attorney's
Office, "HAMAS is already using the kidnapping as propaganda, which is
material support to a DTO."
In the email, the FBI noted there was unusual
activity on Shaul's Facebook account after the time of his kidnapping
and said it needed more information from Facebook that it could only
obtain with a court order to be able to fully determine what "HAMAS was
doing with Oron's Facebook account and possibly his phone." Was the U.S.
Attorney's Office in a position, the FBI wanted to know, to immediately
obtain a court order for the FBI to deliver to Facebook?
Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Attorney's Office
thought it was near ready to be able to immediately obtain a court
order. But before it could obtain such an order, it needed specific
information on Shaul's Facebook account that it could present to the
But the next day, July 22, the
U.S. Attorney's Office received a startling response from the FBI:
"Thank You for your effort, input and assistance. I regret to inform you
we have been denied approval to move forward with legal process. We
were told by our management we need a MLAT [Mutual Legal Assistance
Treaty] in order to continue to assist our partner with the request in
question." Those words put an immediate halt to the Israeli request.
An MLAT is a standardized legal agreement
between the United States and other countries that spells out the legal
and diplomatic protocols in processing requests for legal information
pertaining to court cases in either the United States or in another
country. MLATs go through various bureaucratic channels, usually take
weeks to process and would generally be used for non-pressing legal
matters in which the United States or another country was carrying out a
legal process such as a prosecution involving a citizen of another
Prosecutors familiar with their use say that
an MLAT would definitely not be used in an urgent life-or-death
intelligence or counter-terrorist incident, especially with a close ally
such as Israel. "In a pressing court matter, there is no way the USG
would invoke an MLAT with a close ally," said a veteran prosecutor who
has worked on international counter-terrorism cases.
Law enforcement officials knowledgeable about
this incident say both prosecutors and FBI were shocked at the sudden
turn of events. "This sudden reversal was devastating," said one law
enforcement official who was intimately familiar with this incident.
"For those working this case, they felt this decision was tantamount to a
death sentence. Nothing less."
And thus, the FBI was never able to supply
Israel with any information on Shaul's Facebook account that might have
led to the location of the soldier or his remains that had been seized
Most pro-Israel administration evah?
Labels: Arab celebrations, Barack Hussein Obama, FBI, Gaza, Hamas, IDF, kidnapping, Operation Protective Edge, Shejaiya, US-Israel relationship