Search for International Terrorist Entities

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Formation2002
Founder• Rita Katz
• Josh Devon
Interests“terrorism”

The SITE Institute was a not for profit terrorist research institute founded by Rita Katz and Josh Devon in 2002. In 2008 it re-launched as the SITE Intelligence Group. SITE is an acronym for the Search for International Terrorist Entities.

Origins

SITE was founded in 2002 by Rita Katz and Josh Devon with Katz as Director and Devon as the Research Director. The two had worked together at Steve Emerson's Investigative Project. The New Yorker implies that Katz and Steve Emerson had had some sort of falling out, writing that by June 2002 “Katz and Emerson, both combative personalities, had parted ways”.[1] The domain for the Site Institute’s website www.siteinstitute.org was registered on 1 July 2002.

Activities and personnel

In tax returns the Site Institute’s stated purpose was stated as being to “educate and aid the public, media and government as to the existence and dangers of international terrorism”[2] More specifically it gave the following explanation of its activities:

  • Site provides educational, research and consulting services on international terrorism to government agencies and other organisations.
  • The organisation offers its research materials to the public through an email subscription service.
  • Representatives of SITE speak to business and community groups about the existence and dangers of international terrorism.
  • Sale of publications related to existence and dangers of international terrorism.

It would seem from those tax records that the organisations initially jointly operated as a corporate enterprise as well as a not for profit foundation. The tax returns filed by the latter refer to an organisation that “shares office space, employees and allocable operating costs with a non-exempt entity controlled by board members”. The name of the entity was withheld and it was dissolved on 15 June 2004

The New Yorker describes the appearance and workings of the Institute as follows:

“The SITE Institute’s office looked like a college newspaper’s. There were three rooms: Katz’s office, dominated by a large conference table; a small room for two translators (more work part time, from home); and what’s called the pit, where several researchers and interns, all in their twenties, sat under a long, eye-level row of mug shots of wanted terrorists”.[3]

According to tax records the two founders were the group’s only paid employees, at least until 2004. During 2004 both Katz and Devon worked over forty hours a week until October 2004 when Devon reduced his hours to 10+ a week. There were however a number of other less prominent individuals involved. The 2003 tax returns refer to a third board member who according to the document worked full time at the institute until August 2003 but whose name is not disclosed.[4]. The New York Times stated in September 2004 that SITE “also has a small crew in Israel, which allows the organization to monitor sites around the clock”.[5]

A document posted on the website of the Transatlantic Union on 1 May 2005 describes its author Greg Caplan as being “responsible for programming, outreach, and development at the SITE Institute, a terrorism research group in Washington, D.C.” [6]

Other individuals known to have worked there are Michael Kern, described at one time as “a senior analyst with the SITE Institute”[7] and James Mitre described as “an analyst at the SITE Institute”[8] who went on to study at NYU.[9]

Zionism

The Site Institute’s founder Rita Katz is a professed Zionist. She spent much of her early life in Israel and served in the IDF. She has been quoted as saying, “I believe that Jews belong in Israel”.[10] Site Institute’s website as well as the website of its new incarnation, the Site Intelligence Group, are both registered to the IP address 67.19.162.130. According to Domain Tools, as of 21 March 2008 there are 139 sites hosted on that server. They are predominantly websites of Jewish owned business or groups promoting Jewish culture in the United States, and they include groups actively engaged in promoting Zionist views and anti-Arab propaganda. They include the websites of the following organisations:

Other info

SITE was among the organisations which promoted the Global Islamic Media Front and its alleged news outlet the Voice of the Caliphate.

Funding

Newton and Rochelle Becker Charitable Trust.

Tax Returns


References

  1. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, 'PRIVATE JIHAD: How Rita Katz got into the spying business', The New Yorker, 29 May 2006
  2. SITE's 2003 Tax Return (PDF)
  3. Benjamin Wallace-Wells, 'PRIVATE JIHAD: How Rita Katz got into the spying business', The New Yorker, 29 May 2006
  4. SITE's 2003 Tax Return (PDF)
  5. Eric Lipton and Eric Lichtblau, Even Near Home, a New Front Is Opening in the Terror Battle, New York Times, 23 September 2004
  6. Greg Caplan, ‘Transatlantic Relations and the Middle East: Partnership or rivalry? (PDF), May 2004
  7. e.g. Rita Katz and Michael Kern, ‘Center of the Jihadist World’, National Review Online, 11 July 2005
  8. Rita Katz and James Mitre, ‘Collaborating Financiers of Terror’, Monday, National Review Online, 16 December 2002
  9. The Centre on Law and Security, The NYU Review of Law and Security, Issue No. 2 April 2004 (PDF)
  10. Aaron Leibel Author Infiltrates Islamic Terror Cells' Washington Jewish Week 29 August 2003