columnU.S.-Israel Relations

Gal Luft’s distressing predicament

Israel should seek a full investigation of the charges that have been leveled against its national. But it also has a responsibility to him as an Israeli citizen and a senior IDF officer to ensure that his arrest warrant isn’t politically motivated.

Gal Luft. Source: Screenshot.
Gal Luft. Source: Screenshot.
Caroline B. Glick
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

On Feb. 16, Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. (retired) Dr. Gal Luft was arrested at the airport in Cyprus as he was about to board a flight home. Three days later, Luft posted a stunning claim on his Twitter account. He wrote: “I’ve been arrested in Cyprus on a politically motivated extradition request by the U.S. The U.S, claiming I’m an arms dealer. It would be funny if it weren’t tragic. I’ve never been an arms dealer. DOJ [Department of Justice] is trying to bury me to protect Joe, Jim and Hunter Biden. Shall I name names?”

Luft’s description of the charges was accurate. He is also accused of lying to the FBI and violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). If convicted of the charges on his arrest warrant, he would face up to 96 years in prison.

Obviously, the crimes he is accused of committing are serious and require investigation. If he is guilty, he should be punished in accordance with U.S. law.

But before Luft is extradited, his allegation needs to be investigated as well.

Luft was in the IDF for 15 years and left active duty after serving as an artillery battalion commander. He moved to Washington to study at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies. He received a Ph.D. in international security under Professor Eliot Cohen.

Gal Luft. Source: Screenshot.

After completing his studies, in the early 2000s, Luft formed a think tank called the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). It focused on developing and advocating to replace oil and other fossil fuels with renewable and clean fuels. It served as a rare meeting ground for environmentalists on the left concerned with climate change and security hawks on the right concerned with U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil producers. Jim Woolsey, a former director of the CIA under Bill Clinton, and Robert McFarlane, a former national security advisor under Ronald Reagan, led the IAGS board of directors. Luft’s work with IAGS wasn’t limited to the United States. He worked in many countries.

In 2014, the China Energy Fund Committee-USA was registered as a 501(c)(3) organization in Virginia. It was the nonprofit arm of the Chinese energy conglomerate CEFC China. As a New York Times profile of CEFC China from 2018 explained, CEFC’s founder and chairman, Ye Jianming made gaining “access to the corridors of power in Washington” a key goal.

CEFC-USA apparently worked as the nonprofit lobbying arm to bring senior U.S. officials into the company’s orbit. According to the write-up in the Times, it gave as much as $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation and “at least $500,000 to a Columbia University research center.” It also gave $350,000 to IAGS. According to Luft’s associates, during those years, the U.S. Department of Energy contracted CEFC-USA to carry out a project on clean coal technologies.

According to Luft’s close associates, between 2015 and 2018, Luft worked intensely with CEFC-USA, organizing conferences in the United States, Hong Kong and China. During that time, Luft developed close personal ties with several of its senior officials. During the same period, CEFC-China began an assiduous courtship of the Biden family. According to The New York Times, Ye and his deputy, Patrick Ho, began their outreach to the Bidens in 2015, while President Joe Biden was serving as vice president.

“An aide to Mr. Ye met the vice president’s son, Hunter Biden in Washington. Mr. Ye then met privately with Hunter Biden at a hotel in Miami in May 2017. … Mr. Ye proposed a partnership to invest in American infrastructure and energy deals … ,” the Times reported.

Even then, it was apparent that CEFC was affiliated closely both with the Chinese regime and the Chinese military intelligence complex. As the Times noted, CEFC “hired a large number of former [Chinese] military officers … [Ye] was deputy secretary of a Chinese military organization from 2003-2005 that congressional researchers called a front for the People’s Liberation Army unit that has ‘dual roles of intelligence collection and conducting People’s Republic of China propaganda.’  ”

In September 2020, on the eve of the U.S. presidential elections, the New York Post broke the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop, which the president’s son had abandoned at a computer repair shop in Delaware. The laptop exposed a web of international influence-peddling operations by the Biden family. The family’s ties with CEFC, which were documented, were legion. According to documents in the laptop, the Biden family began their ties with CEFC in 2015. In May 2017, working with U.S. financier Tony Bobulinski, the Bidens formed Sinohawk Holdings to carry out their partnership with CEFC. CEFC agreed to pay Sinohawk $5 million and transfer another $5 million to the Biden family as a gift.

After the Biden campaign enlisted the assistance of some 50 former U.S. intelligence heads who insisted that the laptop was a fake (the product of Russian disinformation), Bobulinski came forward to tell his story.

He told Fox News host Tucker Carlson how the Biden family involved him in their work with CEFC. Bobulinski, a former naval officer, was concerned by CEFC’s connections to the Chinese regime. But the Bidens were less so, believing that by masking their ties with CEFC through corporate bodies, they would have “plausible deniability” about their knowledge of the company’s activities that could be problematic from a national security perspective.

CEFC’s work in the United States concluded abruptly in late 2017. As Bobulinski told Carlson in July 2017, CEFC’s executive director Zhang Zu was in Moscow while Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. During the visit, Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft leaked that CEFC had agreed to purchase 14% of Rosneft for $9 billion. At the time, Rosneft was under U.S. sanctions.

Zhang’s visa to the United States was canceled shortly thereafter. CEFC was supposed to transfer its funds to Sinohawk in May, but the payments failed to materialize. CEFC’s deal with Rosneft was formally signed in September 2017.

Bobulinski told Carlson that in October 2017, he asked Hunter Biden whether the Bidens had begun sidestepping the arrangement with Bobulinski and whether he was pursuing a “parallel discussion” with the Chinese firm. Hunter Biden responded that Ye had contracted him to serve as his personal attorney.

In November 2017, Ye’s deputy, Patrick Ho, was arrested by federal agents on corruption charges. The first person he phoned after his arrest was Jim Biden, President Biden’s brother.

The Washington Post documented last year that while the Sinohawk deal did not go forward, the Bidens received $4.8 million from CNEC over a 14-month period beginning in August of 2017. According to the Post, “In the summer of 2017, Hunter Biden received a request from Ye that would foreshadow subsequent problems for CEFC. Ye said that a top CEFC associate, Patrick Ho, might be under investigation by U.S. law enforcement and he asked Hunter Biden for help. Hunter Biden told the New Yorker that he agreed to represent Ho and to try to figure out if he was under scrutiny by law enforcement.”

Hunter Biden (center) with his father, President Joe Biden, and stepmother, Jill Biden, during the presidential inauguration ceremony on Jan. 20, 2021. Credit: U.S. Department of Defense Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II.

‘The timing is critical’

This brings us back to Luft.

In March 2019, Luft and his attorney, Robert Henoch, met in Brussels with FBI officers and Department of Justice officials. According to an associate of Luft’s, he shared information that CEFC officials had shared with him during his time working with them. According to Henoch, “Dr. Luft learned explosive information that someone was selling sealed U.S. law enforcement information to Chinese individuals.”

Sources close to Luft say that he told the federal officials in Brussels that a former senior FBI or DOJ official referred to as “One-Eye” had made a deal with the Biden family in which “One-Eye” agreed to be paid to transfer classified information to a Biden family member, who, in turn, transferred it to Ye. That information, claim Luft’s associates, included the fact that the FBI was investigating Ye, and CEFC and intended to arrest Ye.

According to Luft’s associates, when federal agents turned up at Ye’s apartment in New York to interview him after Ho’s arrest, Ye had already left America for China, leaving Ho “as the fall guy.” Luft’s associates claim that Luft told federal investigators that Ye had managed to slip out of the country and avoid arrest because “the Bidens had tipped him off.”

Six weeks after Luft met with the federal agents in Brussels, Biden announced that he was running for president. In December 2019, the FBI received a copy of Hunter Biden’s laptop. In October 2020, Bobulinski authenticated the contents of the laptop.

Luft’s associates claim that despite the investigators’ pledges to follow up on his claims, Luft never heard from them again.

During the 2022 campaign for Congress, the Republicans ran on a pledge to investigate the allegations against Biden and his family arising from Hunter Biden’s laptop. On Nov. 1, 2022, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York issued an arrest warrant against Luft.

Henoch explains: “The timing is critical. Dr. Luft gave information about corruption at the highest levels of the U.S. government in 2019. Nothing happened. Instead, four years later, the government issued a warrant for Dr. Luft’s arrest. It is clear Dr. Luft is being punished for the information that he gave to the DOJ as opposed to the DOJ investigating the information Dr. Luft provided. Dr. Luft is a whistleblower, and he is being punished for it.”

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, is responsible for investigating the allegations arising from the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. In a March 2 interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox, Comer referred to Luft as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” He said that after word got out of Luft’s arrest, “we’ve had three people that were involved in the Hunter Biden shady business schemes that have communicated with my committee staff.”

Comer added that “I think that people see the heavy-handedness of the Bidens. Either you’re getting picked up by the DOJ or you’re getting a letter from Hunter Biden’s personal attorney trying to intimidate you.”

One of the more suspicious aspects of Luft’s arrest that seem to lend credence to his claim that his arrest and extradition request are political is that he was arrested in Cyprus just as he was about to return to Israel. The government issued its arrest warrant in November. It has a cooperative agreement and relationship with the Israeli Ministry of Justice and state prosecution. And yet, it didn’t communicate the arrest warrant to Israel. Israeli officials could have arrested and investigated Luft at any time.

According to Henoch and other sources close to Luft, since his arrest, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fischer has met twice with Cyprus’s defense minister, and with the Cypriot foreign minister and president. Henoch believes that Fischer is pressuring the Cypriot government and judiciary not to release Luft on bail.

A Cypriot judge granted Luft bail two weeks ago, but while he was arranging the payment, the U.S. embassy appealed. Luft has another hearing scheduled in early April. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) met this week with the Cypriot ambassador to Washington. Although Henoch informed the U.S. embassy that Luft has retained counsel and should not be questioned without Henoch present, Henoch alleges that embassy officials tried to question Luft three times.

Obviously, the charges that have been filed against Luft are serious and need to be investigated. Henoch has already agreed to have him investigated by Israeli or U.S. officials in Israel.

Two conclusions arise from the background of Luft’s arrest. First, Comer told Bartiromo that his committee was aware of Luft before he was arrested and had intended to question him. If Luft is extradited, he will be out of reach of congressional investigators. Presumably, if he is transferred to Israel while the extradition request is adjudicated, he would be able to remotely testify before Comer’s committee.

Second, like congressional investigators, the Israeli government should be concerned by Luft’s arrest in Cyprus. Israel, of course, should seek a full investigation of the charges that have been leveled against its national. But it also has a responsibility to him as an Israeli citizen and a senior IDF officer to ensure that his arrest warrant isn’t politically motivated. To this end, Israel should ask Cyprus to step out of the equation and transfer Luft to Israel for investigation both of the crimes he has been charged with and the U.S. request to extradite him.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

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