A former CIA official said that the United States “shares some blame” for failing to anticipate Hamas’ attack on Israel because it lost sight of the terror group after 9/11 and instead focused on al-Qaeda concentrated.
Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA operations officer with extensive counterterrorism experience, recounted The Wall Street Journal It was a mistake for the US to leave surveillance of Hamas to the Israelis.
“As for the intelligence failures, which in reality are largely Israel’s fault, I think we should also share some of the blame for missing this event,” he said.
“The handover of the target to the Israelis now appears to have had consequences.”
Hamas militants kidnapped 230 hostages from kibbutz communities, a music festival, towns and military bases in southern Israel during the Oct. 7 attack
Hamas terrorists are seen heading towards the border fence with Israel in Gaza on October 7
Hamas terrorists are seen taking selfies in front of a burning Israeli tank on the Gaza border wall on October 7
Marc Polymeropoulos, a retired CIA operations officer with extensive counterterrorism experience, told the Wall Street Journal that it was wrong for the U.S. to leave surveillance of Hamas to the Israelis
The United States kept an eye on Hamas, with some CIA analysts assigned to monitor the group – which was elected to control Gaza in 2006.
But the bulk of their efforts focused on monitoring al-Qaeda and then the Islamic State, as U.S. officials calculated that these two in particular posed a threat to the United States.
It should have been “a well-placed bet,” a senior counterterrorism official told the Wall Street Journal.
US intelligence agencies have a budget of $90 billion, but still have to prioritize their targets.
Calls have shifted in recent years toward monitoring China, with less focus on the Middle East, officials said.
Jonathan Schanzer, who tracked Hamas as a U.S. Treasury Department terrorism financial analyst, said the focus on Hamas funding diminished after Sept. 11, 2001, as first Barack Obama and then Biden sought to build trust with Iran.
Schanzer, who now works at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said there needs to be a review of what the U.S. is doing to combat Iran-backed terror groups.
“There should be one. “If not, it is a case of foreign policy misconduct,” he said.
Intelligence experts said it was not easy to determine where the money and resources should be distributed.
“A really tough prioritization exercise needs to be done,” said a second former counterterrorism official.
“The reality is that there are no collection resources that can be used anywhere in the world.”
“In areas where we feel we can take some risk, we need to rely on partners.”
A source told the Wall Street Journal that Hamas is not at the “lowest rung” of the priority list – but not in the top half either.
Some defended the U.S. approach, pointing out that al-Qaeda posed a significantly greater threat to U.S. life after 9/11.
The terrorist group killed nearly 3,000 Americans, bombed American embassies and carried out many other deadly terrorist attacks in September 2001.
“I don’t remember anyone saying at the time that you were too focused on al-Qaeda,” said a former senior CIA official.
The debate within the US intelligence community comes at a time when Israel’s own intelligence community has serious questions about the massive failure.
prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared in the early hours of Sunday to blame security and intelligence officials for not spotting any signs HamasThe devastating invasion was imminent – and then had to apologize.
“Under no circumstances was Prime Minister Netanyahu made aware of Hamas’ intention to start a war,” Netanyahu wrote in the since-deleted post.
“On the contrary, all security officials, including the head of military intelligence and the head of Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency), believed that Hamas had been deterred.”
“That was the assessment that was repeatedly presented to the prime minister and the (security) cabinet by all security officials and the intelligence agencies until the outbreak of war.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to blame security and intelligence officials for failing to recognize signs of Hamas’ devastating invasion
The post was published X hours after Netanyahu gave a news conference late Saturday in which he was asked whether he had been warned about the risk of attack.
Netanyahu said there had been a “terrible failure” before the attacks, in which Hamas militants also kidnapped 230 hostages from kibbutz communities, a music festival, towns and military bases across southern Israel.
“There was a terrible failure and it is being investigated intensively,” he said at the news conference.
“No stone will be left unturned.” “For now, my mission is to save the country and lead the soldiers to complete victory over Hamas and the forces of evil.”
His post was deleted on Sunday morning and replaced a few minutes later.
“I was wrong,” he explained in the new post.
“Things I said after the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that.”
“I fully support all the heads of the security apparatus.” I support the military chief of staff and the commanders and soldiers of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) who are on the front lines and fighting for our homeland. “Together we will win,” he wrote.
Benny Gantz, a retired general and member of Israel’s War Cabinet, called on Netanyahu to withdraw the statement.
Israeli opposition politician Yair Lapid also criticized Netanyahu, saying the prime minister had “crossed a red line.”
Lapid criticized the government for not being “present” and for not “overcoming the shock of October 7th.”