Israeli and American media have reported that classified intelligence disclosed by the US President to Russia was provided by Israel, potentially compromising the anonymity of Israeli operatives in the field.
ABC reported claims from sources that the classified information US President Trump shared with Russia may have endangered the life of an Israeli agent infiltrated within ISIS.
One Israeli intelligence officer told Yediot Ahronoth: “There is now a significant risk to sources we have devoted years to acquiring and to [our] work methods… We need to reevaluate whether and which information we share with the Americans.”
Another unnamed source said: “The problem isn’t the information but the extremely sensitive sources [that were used] to obtain it, some of which took years of invested [effort]. The Russians aren’t stupid; they’re going to realise where it came from and either they or their allies, all of whom are enemies of Israel, will take appropriate measures.”
US President Donald Trump shared the information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and with the Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergey I. Kislyak in an Oval Office meeting. The disclosure is believed to be related to information that ISIS intended to carry out a terror attack on an aeroplane bound for the US using an explosive device concealed within a laptop, thought to be undetectable by security checks.
In March reports that ISIS was developing a bomb hidden within the batteries of electronic devices led US and British authorities to bar passengers from airports in ten predominantly Muslim countries from carrying laptops and tablets aboard flights bound for the US. On Tuesday, the US department of Homeland Security said it was considering broadening the ban to include airports in Europe.
Nonetheless, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer has reiterated Israel’s full confidence in the intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States. The two countries’ intelligence agencies have been working with close cooperation since the year 2000.
Trump’s national security advisor Lt. Gen. McMaster defended the President’s decision to share the information, saying “it was nothing that you would not know from open-source reporting” and stressing that they could not have compromised the source of the information because it had not been disclosed to them by Israel in the first place.
Between Trump’s election and inauguration, the US intelligence community reportedly warned their Israeli counterparts to be careful what they chose to disclose to the new administration, due to a perceived risk that information could be passed onto the Kremlin.