Israel's Elite Intelligence Unit Helped Foil ISIS Plane Bombing in Australia, Army Reveals

The success last year follows reports in May that Israel helped stymie an attempt by the group to put a bomb on a passenger plane

An illustrative photo of a Mitsubishi passenger airplane, 2015.
Bloomberg

Israeli intelligence helped foil an Islamic State passenger-plane bombing against Australia last year, after the 8200 intelligence unit passed on crucial information, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday after the lifting of a gag order.

According to the IDF, arrests were made at a very advanced stage of planning late last year, possibly reflecting the latest such success by Israeli intelligence in a matter of months.

The Australian Federal Police said at the time that four men had been arrested after law enforcement became "aware of information that suggested some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist act using an improvised device."

AFP added that they believed it was a case of "Islamic-inspired terrorism" and that several properties had been searched across four Sydney suburbs.

Members of the Israel Defense Forces intelligence and cyberwarfare Unit 8200, in 2013.
Moti Milrod

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said advice from Australian security and intelligence agencies had led to increased security measures at Sydney airport.

In May, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that U.S. President Donald Trump had told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about an Islamic State plan to slip a laptop rigged with a bomb onto a passenger plane. The foreign press ascribed the intelligence to Israel.

In recent years the high-tech 8200 unit has been studying the Islamic State’s threat to Israel, Jews and Israeli tourists around the world. Now that the group has been defeated in Syria and Iraq, 8200 is keeping an eye on its fighters who have scattered – some to their home counties and some, worryingly for Israel, to the neighboring Sinai Peninsula.

The 8200 unit and the IDF’s telecommunications forces recently thwarted an Iranian hacking attack against private and government Israeli sites after learning of the attempt early in the process.