The Vanity Fair magazine on Wednesday disclosed details on the classified information that U.S. President Donald Trump allegedly revealed to Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
According to the report, Trump revealed details of a covert mission by Sayeret Matkal, Israel’s elite counterterrorism force, along with members of the technological unit of the Mossad. The mission, which took place in Syria, targeted an Islamic State (ISIS) cell that was racing to get a deadly new weapon thought to have been devised by Ibrahim al-Asiri, the Saudi national who was Al-Qaeda’s master bombmaker in Yemen.
Details on the mission were provided to Vanity Fair by two experts on Israeli intelligence operations. It would lead to the unnerving discovery that ISIS terrorists were working on transforming laptop computers into bombs that could pass undetected through airport security.
U.S. Homeland Security officials subsequently banned passengers traveling from a list of Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptops and other portable electronic devices larger than a cell phone on arriving planes.
In May, it was reported that Trump had inadvertently revealed Israel intelligence as the source of sensitive security information during discussions with Russian officials. According to The Washington Post, during conversations with Lavrov and Kislyak, Trump disclosed information obtained by a key U.S. ally – information whose very nature revealed its source.
The New York Times later identified the source of intel cited by the president, confirming that Israel was indeed the ally who provided the information.
Two Israeli intelligence officials later confirmed to the American news website BuzzFeed that Israel had indeed shared specific intelligence with the United States regarding ISIS plots to smuggle explosive laptops onto planes.
Trump had responded to the reports via his Twitter account, saying at the time, "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety."
According to Vanity Fair, the conversation between Trump and the Russian officials took place on May 10, one day after the president’s sudden firing of FBI director James Comey.
Trump reportedly boasted to his guests that he gets “great intel”, adding, “I have people brief me on great intel every day.”
He then quickly went on to share with the Russian officials the details of the Israeli operation, but did not name the U.S. partner who had spearheaded the operation. He did, however, identify the specific city in ISIS-held territory where the threat had been detected.
There is no record of the response of the two Russians to the information that was shared with them.