US should ‘share some blame’ for Hamas attack, says former CIA agent
The United States should “share some blame” for failing to predict Hamas’s assault on Israel, a former CIA official has said, amid claims Washington outsourced its intelligence-gathering on the terror group to Israel after 9/11.
CIA officials told the Wall Street Journal the US had reduced its focus on Hamas in 2001, focusing its Middle Eastern resources on Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State instead.
One serving officer said moving resources away from Hamas should have been a “well-placed bet” after the September 11 attacks and that Israel had been given responsibility for spying on the group.
“The reality is that you don’t have collection resources that you can exploit all over the world,” a second official said.
But Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA counterterrorism officer, said the US must bear some responsibility for Hamas’s October 7 cross-border attack, alongside Israeli intelligence services.
Hamas’s assault, which saw more than 1,400 Israelis slaughtered, surprised Israel’s security apparatus and Western intelligence services alike.
“In terms of intelligence failures, which really do lie mostly on Israel, I think we should also share some blame for missing this event,” Mr Polymeropoulos said. “Ceding the target to the Israelis now looks to have had consequences.”
Relying on Israeli intelligence agencies
Prior to the attack, the CIA was monitoring events in the Gaza Strip but was relying on Israeli intelligence agencies for human sources and electronic eavesdropping, the WSJ reported.
In a now-deleted tweet posted on Sunday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Israel’s intelligence services for failing to prevent the attacks, alleging that they had “assessed that Hamas was deterred” and he was not aware of an imminent threat.
US president Joe Biden’s administration has also faced criticism for its failure to predict the latest Middle East conflict.
In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine written five days before Hamas’s attack, Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, wrote: “Although the Middle East remains beset with perennial challenges, the region is quieter than it has been for decades.”
The article was later rewritten on the magazine’s website.
In another passage removed from the story, Mr Sullivan said: “The Israeli-Palestinian situation is tense, particularly in the West Bank, but in the face of serious frictions, we have de-escalated crises in Gaza and restored direct diplomacy between the parties after years of its absence.”
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