JERUSALEM—A report that Israel is providing significant intelligence support in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) appeared to win indirect confirmation today from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
"In order to stop Islamic State there must be cooperation between Intelligence agencies from across the free world," he said, "a sharing of experience and operational cooperation."
Officially, Israel has declined to confirm or deny the report of Israeli participation. If there was such confirmation, it could be damaging to the alliance the United States is building up in the area, including Muslim states hostile to Israel, such as Iran.
Reuters quoted a Western diplomat Monday as saying that Israeli spy satellites allowed the Pentagon "to get a better battle damage assessments" after air strikes on ISIL targets. The Israeli satellites overfly the battle area at angles and frequencies unavailable to American satellites, the official said. Any information thus provided has its Israeli origins "scrubbed out" before it is shared with coalition partners.
The diplomat added that Israel was also sharing information it gleaned from international travel databases about Western citizens believed to have joined the radical organization in Syria and Iraq.
"The Israelis are very good with passenger data and with analyzing social media in Arabic to get a better idea of who these people are," he said. Western states are increasingly concerned about disaffected citizens joining ISIL and then returning home with combat experience.
Israel has not yet encountered fighters from ISIL, but other Jihadi groups fighting the Syrian army are deployed along much of the border with the Golan Heights.
Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid also hinted yesterday at Israeli interest in "a coalition of sanity" against radical Islam. Addressing an academic forum, he called for a scenario "in which we are part of the fight against terror and our intelligence is part of a regional effort."