Highly classified intelligence concerning Islamic State activities that was reportedly divulged by US President Donald Trump to Russian diplomats came directly from the terror group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa in Syria, Israel’s Channel 1 news reported Wednesday night.
According to the public news channel, the source of the information was the Israel Defense Force’s Military Intelligence.
On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump had revealed “code word”-level intelligence — one of the highest levels of secrecy in the US — during a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak earlier this month.
The country supplying the intelligence to the US was identified in the Post story only as “an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.” Sources later told The New York Times that Israel was that country, and ABC news then reported that the information came specifically from a spy embedded in the terrorist group on behalf of Israel. Some reports have suggested the life of this person may now be in danger.
The head of IDF Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi arrived in the United States this week for a “planned visit,” a military official confirmed to The Times of Israel on Wednesday night.
The Israeli government has not confirmed that it is the source of the reportedly leaked intelligence.
According to American media reports, the information conferred to the Russian diplomats dealt with an Islamic State plot to bring down a passenger jet flying between Europe and the United States using a bomb hidden inside a laptop.
In October 2015, the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula detonated explosives hidden in a soda can on a Russian passenger plane, causing it to crash and killing the 224 people on board.
Deliberation by the US over a possible ban on laptops on all flights from Europe to the US — a move that could affect 65 million passengers a year — was apparently sparked by concerns that an explosive device of this kind could get through airport screening undetected.
The US already prohibits 10 mainly Middle Eastern airports from allowing laptops on board US-bound flights.
Officials said the intelligence provided by the spy was so sensitive that it was shared only with the US and was conditioned on the source remaining secret, ABC said.
The concern about the incident is that Trump might have unwittingly revealed the source of the intelligence.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that Russia is a close ally of Syria and Iran, two countries that are decidedly not friendly with Israel and which would thus be interested to know any detail possible about the Jewish state’s intelligence-gathering operations.
The incident sparked reportedly considerable ire within the Israeli security services. Unnamed intelligence officials, speaking to the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, said they would have to reevaluate what information gets passed to the United States.
But former heads of the Mossad were far more blunt with their assessments of the incident. Danny Yatom called for Israel “to punish the Americans” over the leak in order to teach Trump a lesson. Shabtai Shavit referred to the US president as a “bull in a china shop” and said that were he in charge of the intelligence service he would refrain from providing the Americans with information for fear of leaks.
Trump acknowledged on Tuesday in a series of tweets that he passed on information to Russia: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”