When U.S. President Donald Trump revealed Israeli intelligence to senior Russian officials in March, he disclosed details of a covert Israeli mission to penetrate an Islamic State cell deep in Syria, claimed Vanity Fair’s Howard Blum on Wednesday.
Israel’s counterterrorism unit, working along with members of the Mossad, obtained information that a Syrian Islamic State cell had developed bombs that could be placed in laptops and then go through airport security undetected. Trump allegedly gave this information to the Russian officials.
According to the report, this discovery prompted the Trump administration as well as the British authorities to ban laptops and other electronics on airplanes until airports could comply with more strict security guidelines.
Trump reportedly passed the intelligence to the Russians without first notifying and discussing the decision with Israeli principals. According to Vanity Fair, this violation of U.S.-Israeli trust implicated the larger Middle East, as Israel assumed Russia would pass this intelligence information to their allies: the Iranians.
In January, it was reported that Israeli intelligence officials were concerned that the exposure of classified information to their American counterparts in the Trump administration could lead to it being leaked to Russia and onward to Iran. The intelligence concerns, which had been discussed in closed forums, were based on suspicions of ties between Trump, or his associates, and the government of Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
According to the January report, American officials under President Barack Obama implied that Israel should “be careful” when transferring intelligence information to the White House and the National Security Council following Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
While Trump’s disclosure of intelligence was non-conventional, the president of the United States has the legal right to disclose intelligence at his discretion and Trump’s actions were in no way illegal.
The source of the intelligence has been suspect to doubt however, as an Al Jazeera report claimed a Jordanian – and not Israeli – agent was the source of the intelligence information leaked by Trump to the Russians.
The report, which cites a number of Jordanian sources, contradicts claims that it was an Israeli spy within ISIS who had originally gained the information in question.
“When it comes to ISIL, unlike Jordan, Israel relies on its electronic surveillance collection and its intelligence sharing-arrangement with its Arab partners,” one source told Al Jazeera.