TV: Israel intelligence foiled 50 Islamic State, Iranian attacks in 20 countries

Report says a dozen terror attacks were thwarted in Turkey in past 3 years, despite Erdogan’s public posturing against Israel, and even when diplomatic ties were severed

Pedestrians walk past a poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan under the caption, 'Thank you Istanbul,' at Taksim Square in Istanbul, on June 28, 2018. (AFP Photo/ Bulent Kilic)
Illustrative: Pedestrians walk past a poster of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan under the caption, 'Thank you Istanbul,' at Taksim Square in Istanbul on June 28, 2018. (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)

Israeli intelligence agencies have prevented dozens of Islamic State terror group and Iran-sponsored attacks in various countries around the world by providing local authorities with key information, according to a television report on Tuesday.

The Mossad intelligence agency and the Military Intelligence Directorate supplied information that thwarted 50 attacks in 20 countries over the past three years, the Channel 12 report said.

One of the countries able to foil attacks based on Israeli intelligence was Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a fierce critic of Israel, in particular regarding Palestinian issues.

The network did not name any of the other countries where attacks were stopped, or cite sources for the information.

According to the report, intelligence was transferred to Turkey even during periods when Erdogan was publicly berating Israel and when diplomatic relations between the two countries were officially severed.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Istanbul, June 19, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

In June, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had used cyber-intelligence to help foil “major” terror attacks planned by the Islamic State terror group and others in “dozens” of countries.

Netanyahu said at a cyber-security conference that Israel had, for example, helped foil an IS attack on an Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, and alerted Australian officials, helping thwart an explosion in the air. Etihad is the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.

“That plane from Sydney to Abu Dhabi was going to be exploded in midair,” he said. “We found out through our cyber activities, we found out that ISIS was going to do this and so we alerted the Australian police and they stopped this, before it happened.”

“This particular incident, I can talk about,” Netanyahu said. “If you multiply that 50 times, that will give you an idea of the contribution that Israel has made to prevent major terrorist operations, especially from ISIS [Islamic State], in dozens of countries and most of those cases were foiled because of our activities in cybersecurity.”

Earlier in June, a senior Israeli official told the Kan public broadcaster that the Mossad was responsible for providing British authorities with information that helped foil the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group’s efforts to stockpile explosives in London in 2015.

The Kan report said Lebanese Hezbollah later attempted to move its operations to other countries, which were also notified by Mossad, and that the two organizations were for some time engaged in a game of cat and mouse, as the Iran-backed group sought to actualize its plans.

According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, the Hezbollah plot was part of a wider plan to lay the groundwork for future attacks. It noted foiled Hezbollah operations in Thailand, Cyprus, and New York. All those plots were believed to have targeted Israeli interests around the world.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at Cyber Week conference in Tel Aviv; June 26, 2019. (Shoshanna Solomon/Times of Israel)

Last week, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said that in addition to Israel’s historic treaties with Jordan and Egypt, other Arab countries had discreetly joined “the states of peace, some of them in an unseen manner.”

There is, he said, a shared interest with countries throughout the region in fighting Iran and Islamic terror groups. Cohen accused the Iranian government of being behind a number of strikes on oil facilities and ships in the Persian Gulf in recent months, as well as an attack on the Bahraini embassy in Baghdad the week before.

The television report on Tuesday did not elaborate on the foiled Turkey attacks.

Israel and Turkey in 2016 formally ended a six-year diplomatic rift that had ensued when 10 Turkish activists were killed in a violent confrontation with Israeli commandos aboard a ship, the Mavi Marmara, that aimed to break the naval blockade on Gaza. Israel says it maintains the blockade to prevent the import of weapons by the Hamas terror group, which rules the Strip and is sworn to Israel’s destruction. Despite the official reconciliation, Erdogan has likened Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, while the Israeli leader has lashed back by accusing him of being a dictator.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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