President Donald Trump revealed details of a daring top-secret mission into northern Syria by Israel’s Mossad spy agency and elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit in a May meeting with Russian officials, sticking a dagger into the robust Israeli-American intelligence-sharing apparatus, according to a report Thursday.
A number of details about the operation, which involved an Israeli intelligence source that uncovered an ISIS plot to use laptops to bomb planes, have already been reported on.
According to Vanity Fair, two Sikorsky CH-53 helicopters carrying Israeli commandos and Mossad agents flew into northern Syria, as part of a mission to insert a listening device to spy on an ISIS cell that was devising new methods of carrying out bombing attacks.
The troops and spies were dropped off and transferred to jeeps, in which they drove to their target, where the commandos patrolled while the Mossad agents planted the device. The commandos and agents then raced back to the helicopters and returned to Israel undetected, the report said.
Several days later, signal intelligence troops from Israel’s Unit 8200 were reportedly able to listen in on an ISIS terrorist explaining how to make and use the laptop bombs, apparently devised by Saudi explosives mastermind Ibrahim al-Asiri.
Despite having been warned by US officials that Trump had been “leveraged” by Moscow and could pass sensitive info to the Russians, Israel shared the information with the US intelligence community, sparking the temporary ban on bringing laptops out of several Middle Eastern countries.
The report did not name the location of the operation, but Trump, in recounting details of it to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US, during an oval Office meeting on May 10, did reveal the location, potentially endangering assets Israel had on the ground.