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Israeli army helped prevent ISIS airline bomb plot

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The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) announced yesterday that its elite hi-tech Intelligence Directorate, Unit 8200, prevented an ISIS plot to attack an Etihad airways flight from Australia to Abu Dhabi last summer.

“Unit 8200 provided exclusive intelligence that led to the thwarting of an airliner bombing by Islamic State at the end of 2017,” an IDF statement said.

“The cooperation with the Israeli intelligence community allowed for the transfer of information to the local security authorities and led to the arrest of the suspects, who were in the advanced stages of preparations and close to executing the attack.”

In July 2017, an Australian man sent his unsuspecting brother to Sydney airport to catch an Etihad Airways flight carrying a home-made bomb disguised as a meat-mincer built at the direction of a senior Islamic State commander.

Within 48 hours of uncovering the first detail about the plot, the Israeli military unit, led by a young female Israeli officer, relayed the intelligence to the Australian authorities. “The foiling of the attack led to saving dozens of innocent lives and demonstrates that Unit 8200 is a player in the intelligence battle against Islamic State,” the IDF said.

The thwarted attack was reported at the time both in Israel and abroad, but the intelligence agency that helped secure the vital information to prevent it has not been revealed until now. Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan told reporters at the time it was “one of the most sophisticated plots that has ever been attempted on Australian soil”.

Unit 8200, together with other Israeli agencies recently prevented an Iranian cyberattack targeting private and public organisations in Israel. According to the military, they were able to thwart the cyberattack due to their close monitoring of Iranian operations and the early detection of attempts to attack Israel.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Munich Security Conference that Israel’s military intelligence “helped prevent dozens of terror attacks in dozens of countries by the Islamic State”. According to the Prime Minister, the unit is the “second largest” national security agency in the world, after the US.