Washington: Israeli government spies hacked into the operations of Islamic State bombmakers to discover they were developing a laptop computer bomb to blow up a commercial aircraft, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The Times said the work by Israeli cyber operators was a rare success of Western intelligence against the constantly evolving, encryption-protected and social media-driven cyber operations of ISIS.
It said the Israeli hackers penetrated the small Syria-based cell of bombmakers months ago, an effort that led to the March 21 ban on carry-on laptops and other electronics larger than cellphones on direct flights to the US from 10 airports in Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa.
The Israeli cyber penetration was the source of US information about how the group was developing explosives that couldn’t be detected by standard screening because they looked identical to laptop batteries. The intel was so good it also included the detonation method for the bombs, it said, citing two US officials familiar with the operation.