Israeli intel behind US laptop ban on airlines: Report

Israeli intel behind US laptop ban on airlines: Report

Israeli intel behind US laptop ban on airlines: Report

The United States’ three-month-long ban on laptops in hand luggage on flights to and from the Middle East was put into effect after Israeli intelligence uncovered Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants were planning to transform laptops into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security, the magazine Vanity Fair reported on Nov. 22.

In a secret Israeli operation with two Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters in ISIL’s former capital, the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) technical operatives planted listening devices around a room used by ISIL militants. The recordings revealed jihadists were discussing a plot to blow up a passenger plane via a small bomb fitted inside a laptop.

After the Mossad reportedly fed this intelligence to the rest of the world, the U.S. and Britain banned laptops in aircraft cabins on flights from certain airports, most of which were Middle Eastern carriers, to address the potential threat of hidden explosives.

The U.S. imposed the ban at a total of 10 airports in eight countries—Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey. But by July, it had lifted the bans on all airports, as new security measures were implemented, whereas in the United Kingdom, the ban remains in part.

The Israeli covert mission was “praised by knowledgeable officials” in the U.S., Vanity Fair said in its report.

U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly gave away this highly classified information to top Russian officials during an Oval Office visit in May.

“I get great intel,” Trump was quoted as saying by various reports. “I have people brief me on great intel every day,” he said.

According to Vanity Fair, Israel was later furious with Trump for revealing details of the operation to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Trump betrayed us,” an Israeli military official was quoted as saying by the magazine.

“And if we can’t trust him, then we’re going to have to do what is necessary on our own if our back is up against the wall with Iran,” said the official.