Israeli intel takes global approach, helps thwart dozens of terror attacks

The November 2015 Paris attacks marked as the day defense establishment changed its perspective.

September 27, 2017 21:31
2 minute read.
French army soldiers patrol near the Louvre Museum Pyramid's main entrance in Paris, France

French army soldiers patrol near the Louvre Museum Pyramid's main entrance in Paris, France. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Israel’s intelligence community has helped thwart dozens of terrorist attacks around the globe planned by Islamic State and al-Qaida by sharing intelligence with other countries.

The defense establishment marks the November 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, as the day the intelligence community changed its perspective to a more global one and tightened its coordination with international bodies.

Three years after Islamic State ran through the Middle East, once controlling nearly half of Syria and large parts of Iraq, the group is reported to have lost 85% of its territory in Syria, including almost all of its de facto capital of Raqqa, and has been largely dispersed across the deserts of Iraq.

The intelligence branch also changed its focus to collecting more information about the activities of jihadists who are not in the Middle East.

As the group’s territorial “caliphate” collapses, the group’s ideology remains popular among a large number of disenfranchised youths across the globe. The jihadists’ expertise in online propaganda allows them to continue to operate as a “virtual caliphate” urging their supporters to carry out attacks in their home countries.

With shared threats in the Middle East, cooperation between the intelligence communities of Israel and Western countries such as the United States has always been close and intensified since the early 2000s, despite Israel not being a part of the “Five Eyes” – a term used for the core countries involved in surveillance-sharing with Washington – Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

In May, The New York Times reported that Israel was the source of classified intelligence that President Donald Trump disclosed to Russian officials about a planned Islamic State operation to blow up passenger planes flying to Europe using explosive devices hidden in laptop computers.

Shortly afterward, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that despite the intelligence cooperation between Jerusalem and Washington being “unprecedented,” Israel has nonetheless changed its intelligence-sharing apparatus.

Trump defended having shared “facts” with senior Russian officials, taking to Twitter to say he had an “absolute right” to do so and had been trying to get Moscow to be more active in combating Islamic State.

“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,” he posted on Twitter. “Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.”

In January Yediot Aharonot reported that US officials had warned their Israeli counterparts to be cautious in sharing classified intelligence with the Trump administration, concerned that it could be leaked to Russia and to Iran.

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