The United States has collected specific intelligence indicating that senior Iranian government officials were taken by surprise Saturday’s bloody attack on Israel By Hamas, according to multiple sources familiar with the intelligence.
The sources said that the presence of intelligence information cast doubt on the idea of Iran’s direct involvement in planning, providing resources for, or approving the operation.
The sources stressed that the US intelligence community is not ready to reach a complete conclusion about whether Tehran was directly involved in the period preceding the attack. They continue to search for evidence of Iranian involvement, which has surprised Israel and the United States.
Since the attack, government officials have noted that Iran has provided significant and long-term support to Hamas, including weapons and financing, which undoubtedly contributed to Hamas’ ability to carry out such a massive operation.
But that intelligence — which was briefed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill — prompted U.S. analysts to lean toward an initial assessment that the Iranian government played no direct role in the attack, the sources said.
One US official said: “It is likely that Iran knew that Hamas was planning operations against Israel, but without the exact timing or scope of what happened.” “Although Iran has long supported Hamas with material and financial support, we have not currently seen anything to indicate that Iran supported or was behind the attack.”
But this person cautioned that it is too early to draw any definitive conclusions based on what the United States now knows.
He added: “We will consider additional intelligence in the coming weeks to inform our thinking on this issue, including whether there were at least some within their system who had a clearer sense of what was to come or even contributed to aspects of the planning.” The official said.
Later on Wednesday, John Kirby, the National Security Council’s strategic communications coordinator, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto that the United States had no intelligence to suggest that Iran “was aware in advance of or participated in any of the planning or providing… resources or even process direction.”
Another source familiar with the intelligence told Sciuto that Iran was surprised by the timing of the attack.
The sources did not reveal any other details about the nature of the intelligence information, which one of the sources familiar with the information said was very sensitive.
Some Israeli officials were more willing to attribute direct knowledge of the attacks to Iran.
A senior Israeli official, who was briefed on Israeli intelligence, told CNN’s Matthew Chance on Wednesday that Iran, which has long provided funding and training to Hamas militants, may not have been aware of the exact timing of the raids from Gaza, but they certainly were. “Aware of that.” Hamas operation before it happens.”
For some officials in the United States and Congress, the search for direct evidence of Iranian involvement is a distinction beyond recognition.
“I know the administration is embarrassed to hold Iran accountable, but I believe all roads lead to Iran,” House Foreign Affairs Chairman Mike McCaul, a Republican from Texas, told reporters after a news conference on Wednesday. “We certainly don’t want to see this escalation, but Iran is already suffering from this.”
Tehran has no advisers on the ground in besieged Gaza, according to former security officials and other regional analysts, nor does it control the group’s activities. But Iran has for many years been the main donor to Hamas, supplying it with tens of millions of dollars, weapons and components smuggled into Gaza, as well as extensive technical and ideological support.
One source familiar with the intelligence noted that while the group maintains its operational independence from Iran — making it plausible that the Iranian government may not have known about the attack in advance — without Iranian support, Hamas would not have been able to exist as it does now. In other words, this person suggested, why would Tehran be any less culpable if it did not know the details of the attack in advance, given that it enabled the activities of the group that carried it out?
“That’s why you can talk both sides of this,” this person said.
For days, senior US officials have said publicly that they saw no indication that Iran was directly involved in the attack, even as they widely condemned Tehran as “complicit” because of its historical support for Hamas.
“We’re looking forward to getting more intelligence,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. He added: “But as I stand here today, as Iran plays this broad role – the ongoing, deep, dark role in providing all this support and capabilities to Hamas – in relation to this particularly horrific attack on October 7, we do not currently have that role.” Information.”
This story has been updated with additional reporting.
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