Illustrative image of cyber counter-terrorism.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE PHOTOS)
Classified intelligence that US President Donald Trump controversially leaked to Russia last month came in part from an Israeli cyber hack of ISIS, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Trump’s leak threw Israeli-US intelligence relations into shaky territory with former Mossad chief Danny Yatom telling The Jerusalem Post at the time that it was a major violation that would impact future intelligence sharing.
Still, overall, current US and Israeli officials played down the break with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman last month, hinting that it was being addressed, but was no more than a bump in generally stellar relations.
US officials: Trump revealed intelligence secrets to Russia (credit: REUTERS)
Former national security advisers Yaakov Amidror and Uzi Arad also told the Post
that intelligence leaks were an expected part of the game and that, despite the incident, Israel received far too much intelligence data from the US to hold back from sharing.
The Prime Minister’s Office, the Defense Ministry and the Intelligence Ministry all declined to respond to the new details in Monday’s report.
The exposé by the Times
on current cyberwarfare tactics used by the US and its allies, cited American officials revealing Israel’s hand in the recent success in penetrating the hard-to-track cyber tactics utilized by ISIS and other extremist groups.
According to the report, Israel months ago hacked a cell of extremists making bombs in Syria. The report did not specify whether the hacking was accomplished by the Mossad or IDF military intelligence.
Intelligence gathered from those Israeli breaches reportedly led to the US revelation that ISIS was working to develop explosive devices that resembled laptop computer batteries and easily evaded airport screening methods.
The report cited two US officials familiar with the operation as saying that the intelligence allowed the US to understand the mechanisms and the processes for detonating them.
The information on ISIS terrorist operations was said to have in part prompted the Trump administration’s March travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, and was part of classified intelligence the US president was accused of leaking to Russia last month.
Reports on the leaks subsequently emerged that Israeli officials were furious that Trump may have “compromised a vital source of information on the Islamic State and possibly Iran.”
Monday’s report is also significant because it was the first direct report that Trump’s leak to Russia specifically came from Israeli cyber hacking.
Until now, reports had focused on a theory that the information leaked by Trump came from an Israeli undercover agent within ISIS or a Jordanian undercover agent within the terrorist group, with former CIA director Michael Hayden raising the possibility that the leak had come from multiple foreign sources.
report did not reject any of these other narratives, but rather focused on explaining the aspect of the narrative relating to information allegedly obtained by Israel through cyber hacking.