Fact Check: 4,000 Israeli Employees Were NOT Warned Not To Go To Work On 9/11 -- Baseless Conspiracy Myth

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: 4,000 Israeli Employees Were NOT Warned Not To Go To Work On 9/11 -- Baseless Conspiracy Myth No Where/What

Did approximately 4,000 Israelis avoid the attacks at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, because advance warning from an Israeli messaging service told them precisely when and where they would happen? No, that's not true: These claims are the foundation of a baseless conspiracy theory that the 9/11 attacks were a Zionist false flag and the lecturer who makes this claim in a social-media video combines two real but unrelated news stories. He misrepresents one from The Jerusalem Post to establish an inflated number of Israelis who purportedly cheated death. He embellishes the other from Haaretz.com with false details to build a fake scenario where someone with advance knowledge of the attacks warned thousands of Israelis who did not pass that warning on to anyone else.

Hours before the attacks, two Odigo messaging service employees based in Israel received a nonspecific threat that didn't mention the World Trade Center, an Odigo vice-president for sales told media outlets in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. The message was not forwarded to 4,000 Israelis in the United States. Only after the attacks did the possible significance of the message become apparent. The employees notified Odigo management, who contacted the Israeli security services, who, in turn, contacted the FBI.

The day after the attacks, on September 12, 2001, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli foreign ministry had received from concerned family members the names of 4,000 Israelis believed to be near the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the two targets struck in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This number does not represent a tally of Israeli employees who cheated death by not going to work inside the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

A blurry video clip from a slideshow talk was posted on Instagram (archived here) by @orthodoxacatolica2 on February 4, 2024. Text captioning on the video read:

Jerusalem Post & Haaretz
4000 🇮🇱 employees were warned not to go to work on 9/11
Christopher Bollyn
Author & Investigative Journalist

This is how the post appeared on Instagram at the time of writing:


(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri Feb 16 14:48:05 2024 UTC)

The video clip on Instagram, which is about 1½ minutes long, matches a video entitled, "Christopher Bollyn: Solving 9-11, The Deception That Changed The World," which was uploaded to YouTube on March 4, 2017. The post's caption indicates this was filmed at the Neptune Beach Library in Florida but does not give a date. The clip in question picks up at the 1:02:32 minute mark in the 1:28:12-hour-long video. The slide shown on the screen, which is not legible in the Instagram copy, is pictured below. The text comes from a Jerusalem Post article (archived here) published on September 12, 2001. It is titled, "(08:15 - Wed) Thousands of Israelis missing near WTC, Pentagon." It read:

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem has so far received the names of 4,000 Israelis believed to have been in the areas of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon at the time of the attack.

The list is made up of people who have not yet made contact with friends or family, Army Radio reported.

Telephone connections between Israel and the New York City and Washington, D.C. areas has been sporadic and unreliable since the multiple attacks yesterday.

Ten thousand people are estimated to have been killed in the New York attacks and another 800 in Washington.

Several hundred also went down with the hijacked planes.


(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Thu Feb 15 15:45:10 2024 UTC)

Before switching to the next slide, Bollyn says:

What happened ... of those 4,000 people who were supposedly there, only three or four died.

The next slide (pictured below) shows text published in a September 25, 2001, Haaretz.com article (archived here) with the byline, "Yuval Dror and Ha'aretz Correspondent." The same article (archived here) republished on September 26, 2001, appears on Haaretz.com by Yuval Dror. The article as it appears in the slide is no longer at the original address but is archived here.

The information contained in this article does not provide a complete picture, but the interpretation offered by Bollyn adds details that are not written here -- or anywhere else. The article reads:

Odigo, the instant messaging service, says that two of its employees received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen. The company has been cooperating with Israeli and American law enforcement, including the FBI, in trying to find the original sender of the message predicting the attack.

Micha Macover, CEO of the company, said the two employees received the messages and immediately after the terror attack informed the company's management. Management immediately contacted the Israeli security services, which brought in the FBI.

'I have no idea why the message was sent to these two workers, who don't know the sender. It may just have been someone who was joking and turned out they accidentally got it right. And I don't know if our information was useful in any of the arrests the FBI has made,' said Macover.

Odigo is a U.S.-based company whose headquarters are in New York, with offices in Herzliya.

While showing this slide, Bollyn says:

How did they [the 4,000 people] avoid harm? Well, what clearly happened also is there was an instant messaging service called Odigo, an Israeli instant messaging service. They had sent out a warning two hours before 9/11 happened warning people not to go to the World Trade Center that day because there would be a catastrophe there. And the vice president of the company said that the prediction, the time, was exact to the minute -- so 8:45.

Bollyn makes it sound as if the warning was sent by the Odigo company to thousands of Israelis in New York City with a specific warning to not go to the World Trade Center at a specific time. But Ha'aretz reported only two Odigo employees working in Israel received a non-specific threatening message.


(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Thu Feb 15 15:52:10 2024 UTC)

A September 28, 2001, article by ABC News (archived here), titled "FBI Releases Photos, Seeks Public Tips," reported on the "ominous e-mail messages":

The FBI is investigating a pair of seemingly ominous e-mail messages received by employees at an instant messaging service two hours before the first hijacked plane struck the World Trade Center in New York.

According to Alex Diamandis, the vice president of sales and marketing for Odigo, two messages were received by a pair of employees at the U.S.-based company roughly two hours before the terrorist attack. Diamandis said the messages warned that 'something bad is going to happen in two hours,' but made no reference to the twin towers, New York or any specific location.

An October 3, 2001, article in The Washington Post (archived here), titled "Agents Following Suspects' Lengthy Electronic Trail," contains additional details about the vague warning but does not quote the exact message which was sent:

Another possible hint of the plot came two hours before planes crashed into the World Trade Center, when two employees of Odigo Inc. in Herzliya, Israel, received electronic instant messages declaring that some sort of attack was about to take place. The notes ended with an anti-Semitic slur.

'The messages said something big was going to happen in a certain amount of time, and it did -- almost to the minute,' said Alex Diamandis, vice president of sales for the high-tech company, which also has offices in Lower Manhattan. He said the employees did not know the person who sent the message, but they traced it to a computer address and have given that information to the FBI.

A September 13, 2001, article on haaretz.com (archived here), misleadingly titled "Israelis Tell Their Tales of Terror in the Towers," recounts the first-person experiences of three Israeli citizens and one former Israeli who were in lower Manhattan that day. Only one, the former Israeli Ari Braun, was actually inside the World Trade Center, waiting for an elevator, when the plane hit the north tower, the site reported. One man, an Odigo employee whose office was two blocks from the World Trade Center, was at the gym before work when the first plane hit. None of the stories include the detail of having received a warning message.

A search of the 9/11 Commission Report (.PDF here) does not contain any mention of the messages the two Odigo employees received or the FBI investigation into their origin.

Due to the nature of the catastrophe, the exact number of people who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11 will never be known. The number of Israelis who died was initially overstated. In a September 20, 2021, address to a Joint Session of Congress, when he announced the creation of the Office of Homeland Security, then-President George W. Bush stated that citizens of 80 other nations, among them more than 130 Israelis, had died.

One year after the attacks, a memorial service was held in Jerusalem to remember those who died in the 9/11 attacks, including five Israelis. This was reported in The Jerusalem Post on September 11, 2002 (archived here). Two of these people had been passengers on the planes that hit the World Trade Center, and three were working in the towers. The names of these five Israelis are among the 2,977 names inscribed in New York City's 9/11 memorial -- those who died in the 9/11 attacks and the six people who died in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks concerning 9/11 conspiracies can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


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