In the years following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, U.S. intelligence agencies largely shifted their focus away from monitoring Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups. Instead, they directed their resources towards pursuing Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
According to current and former officials cited in the article, the U.S. had only a few analysts monitoring events in Gaza before the Oct. 7 attacks. American intelligence policy primarily depended on Israel to gather human intelligence and conduct surveillance.
The report stated there was such a deference to Israel on the subject of intelligence gathering in Gaza that the Annual Threat Assessment, issued by the Director of National Intelligence, did not identify Hamas or Gaza as top threats to the U.S. Moreover, lawmakers serving on the congressional intelligence committees refrained from addressing these matters in their inquiries during public hearings.
Retired CIA operations officer Marc Polymeropoulos told the Journal, “In terms of intelligence failures, which really do lie mostly on Israel, I think we should also share some blame for missing this event.”
The article suggested that the relationship between Hamas and Iran might have also lessened the appetite to concentrate in the areas under Palestinian control.
Jonathan Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury terrorism finance analyst who closely monitored Hamas funding, noted that the focus on the group’s financial networks diminished as the Obama administration pursued engagement with Tehran.