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Raqqa raid suggests Russian intelligence has sources inside ISIS

Russian President Putin received a report from Russian Defence Minister Shoigu yesterday during a meeting of Russia’s Security Council concerning the claims that a Russian air strike might have killed the ISIS leader Ibrahim Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

The report of the meeting on the Kremlin’s website is careful not to repeat this claim or even to mention Al-Baghdadi’s name

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu updated the meeting participants on the strike delivered by the Russian Aerospace Forces near Raqqa in Syria, in which a large group of terrorists, possibly including some ISIS leaders, have been killed.

The Russians have also released a picture showing the buildings in Raqqa where the meeting of ISIS leaders which Al-Baghdadi is supposed to have attended took place.  The picture shows photographs of the buildings before and after the air strike.

Putting aside the question of whether or not Al-Baghdadi really was killed in the air strike, possibly the most interesting fact about the air strike is that the fact it took place shows that the Russians must have had advanced warning of the meeting of the ISIS leaders in Raqqa and of the buildings where the meeting took place.  The fact that they believe Al-Baghdadi may have been present at the meeting also suggests that they must have had some inside knowledge of the meeting.

This points to the Russians having obtained intelligence from inside ISIS.  As it happens the Russian Defence Ministry is also claiming today that Russia received intelligence earlier this month of an ISIS to storm Deir Ezzor, which also points to the Russians having intelligence sources inside ISIS.

 A few weeks ago there was a bubble of excitement and faux-outrage when US President Trump supposedly shared classified intelligence about an ISIS plot to use laptops to bring down civilian airliners with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.  There were suggestions that President Trump’s “leak” of this information had compromised an intelligence source, with speculation that this might have been an Israeli intelligence mole operating at the heart of ISIS’s leadership.
Recently, possibly in order to kill this speculation, an article has appeared in the New York Times, which during a long discussion of the failure of the US’s cyber-war against ISIS, claimed that the Israeli intelligence about the alleged laptop plot was actually obtained through a hack
Given the nonsense that has been written about this episode I would be extremely wary of assuming the truth of this, all the more so as if it is true it makes it even more difficult to understand why the Israelis would be “infuriated” because Trump shared some of this information with the Russians.

Regardless of that, the air strike on Raqqa and the information about the planned attack on Deir Ezzor suggests that the Russians have intelligence on ISIS which is at least as good as that of the US and Israel.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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