CIA Shows Agents How to Keep Their Cover at Israeli Airport, Leaked File Shows

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An airport security check at Ben-Gurion International Airport (illustrative).
An airport security check at Ben-Gurion International Airport (illustrative). Credit: Dan Keinan

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency guides its people how to enter and exit Israel through Ben-Gurion International Airport without blowing their cover during security checks, according to a secret document revealed by WikiLeaks Sunday night.

The CIA document provides further evidence that Israel serves as a target for operations by the spy agency.

The document, titled "CIA Assessment on Surviving Secondary Screening at Airports While Maintaining Cover" and dated September 2011, contains a long list of guidelines for operatives using false identities.

According to the document, it is based on original intelligence reports, opinions and testimonies of CIA operatives collected through May 2010.

"Secondary screening – a potentially lengthy and detailed look by airport officials at passengers not passing initial scrutiny – can significantly stress the identities of operational travelers," reads the introduction. "Referral to secondary screening can occur if irregularities or questions arise during any stage of airport processing – immigration, customs, or security – and regardless of whether the traveler is arriving, in transit, or departing. Officials may also randomly select travelers."

Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport is among the airports mentioned in the document as being particularly thorough.

The document details the reasons that could lead to security agents at Ben-Gurion to refer a traveler to secondary screening. "A review of clandestine reporting reveals examples of what various countries consider to be suspicious," it is written.

"Israel’s security personnel focus on frequent travel to Islamic countries," the document explains. "Security personnel at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, commonly refer military-aged males traveling alone with backpacks to secondary screening, regardless of their nationality or skin color."

The document includes a detailed description of secondary checks at Ben-Gurion.

"At Ben Gurion airport in Israel, the secondary screening room contains trace-detection equipment for explosive residue; tools for dismantling passengers’ personal items for inspection, particularly items unfamiliar to security officers; and a disrobing area, divided by privacy curtains, to conduct strip searches of individuals, if necessary," according to the document.

The CIA's internal guide book also refers to an internal manual from 2004 published by International Consultants on Targeted Security, an Israeli-founded company, which provides security advice to various governments on matters such as profiling techniques. The manual reportedly "lists suspicious signs in passenger behavior, documentation, tickets, or baggage." The document adds, "Although dated, the ICTS guidelines probably are typical and remain valid."

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