Israel giving US satellite images of Islamic State — report

Jerusalem hands over intel on jihadists, Western fighters, diplomat tells Reuters; material passed on to Arab countries with Hebrew markings ‘scrubbed out’

A convoy of vehicles and fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq's Anbar Province, January 2014 (photo credit: AP)
A convoy of vehicles and fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq's Anbar Province, January 2014 (photo credit: AP)

Israel has provided the US with intelligence and satellite images on Islamic State positions, as well as information on Westerners joining its ranks, to assist Washington in its ongoing operation against the Islamic State, Reuters reported Monday, citing an unnamed Western official.

Israeli spy satellites were said to have greater access to the region, allowing the US to “fill out its information and get a better battle damage assessment” in the aftermath of its airstrikes, the diplomat said, according to the report.

The news came as a State Department spokeswoman said that more than 40 countries have already indicated a willingness to help out in some way against the militants, who have seized a swath of Syria and northern Iraq.

“What the goal of the coalition is is to coordinate on the threat that ISIL poses,” Jen Psaki said, adding that the allies would have differing roles and that not all would offer Iraq direct military support.

“There are obviously a range of capabilities or capacities that different countries have,” she said, adding that the coalition would seek to cut off IS from funding, foreign reinforcements and ideological support.

The US has already begun to form alliances in battling IS, though officials have had to walk a tightrope between long-held regional alliances and sensitivities in the Middle East.

Reuters reported Washington handed over the Israeli satellite evidence to Turkey and other Arab countries, but only once it was cleared of any information that could link it to Israel. The intelligence arrived “with the Hebrew and other markings scrubbed out” to avoid conflict with the other IS-opposed countries that may be bothered by Israel’s role in combating the jihadists, according to the diplomat cited by Reuters.

The diplomat indicated Israel had also helped identify potential Western collaborators with the terror group.

“The Israelis are very good with passenger data and with analyzing social media in Arabic to get a better idea of who these people are,” the source said.

The Defense Ministry refused to comment on the report to Reuters.

Secretary of State John Kerry is to set off Tuesday on a trip to Jordan and Saudi Arabia as part of efforts to build an international coalition to counter the jihadists of the Islamic State.

“Secretary Kerry will also consult with key partners and allies on how to further support the security and stability of the Iraqi government, combat the threat posed by ISIL, and confront Middle East security challenges,” according to a State Department statement.

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