Jordanian spies provided ISIL bomb intel: officials

Jordanian officials dispute reports an Israeli spy was responsible for intelligence on the ISIL airliner bomb plot [FBI/Handout via Reuters]

Intelligence on an ISIL airliner bomb plot given by US President Donald Trump to Russian officials originated with Jordanian spies, not Israelis, current and former Jordanian intelligence officials told Al Jazeera.

According to several US media reports, Trump’s disclosure of sensitive intelligence to the Russians may have endangered an Israeli spy inside Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ABC News reported on Tuesday “the life of the spy is now at risk”.

But several Jordanian sources who spoke on condition of anonymity doubted this assertion. They said they don’t believe Israel has any spies inside ISIL and depends instead on “cooperation and coordination with Arab spy services partners”.

“When it comes to ISIL, unlike Jordan, Israel relies on its electronic surveillance collection and its intelligence sharing-arrangement with its Arab partners,” one source said.

Jordan, however, relies on human intelligence – spies on the ground who infiltrate armed groups. Jordanian intelligence has assets inside several fighting groups in Syria and Iraq, including ISIL, the officials said.

The intelligence that Israel reportedly shared with the US came mainly from Jordanian spies, the sources said.

Former CIA case officer John Kiriakou told Al Jazeera he too doubted the Israelis were able to run a spy inside ISIL’s ranks.

Israel has the most sophisticated electronic surveillance collection in the region, however, which gives it the ability to intercept communications throughout the Middle East region.

The CIA declined to comment on this report.

According to estimates, several thousand Jordanian citizens have joined ISIL in the past few years, some of whom either defected from the military or were former officers.

Almost all the Jordanian ISIL fighters are in Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital in Syria.

Many of the Jordanians assumed high-ranking positions within ISIL, and several were killed in Syria during air strikes in recent months, the sources said.

One of the most well-known is Qutaiba al-Majali who defected from the Jordanian air force to join ISIL several years ago. Majali appeared in a video published on YouTube last April making threats against Jordan and the United States.

Last March Trump  signed an executive order to ban citizens of six Muslim nations from traveling to the United States, citing security threats.

The Jordanian officials said, however, there is not a single piece of threat intelligence implicating those countries.

Hasan Abu Haniyeh, a Jordanian security analyst, told Al Jazeera ISIL is facing a real crisis when it comes to foreign-spy infiltration into its ranks.

Haniyeh pointed to the recent ISIL execution of a  reported Russian FSB agent who was caught and beheaded.