(CNN) — The United States has gathered intelligence specifically that senior Iranian government officials were caught in a Hamas attack on Israel on Saturday, multiple sources familiar with the matter said.
The sources said the existence of this intelligence casts doubt on the idea that Iran was directly involved in planning, sourcing or authorizing the operation.
The U.S. intelligence community is not yet ready to reach a firm conclusion on whether Tehran was directly involved in preparations for the attack, the sources stressed. They continue to search for evidence of Iranian involvement, which has surprised both Israel and the United States.
Since the attack, government officials have noted that Iran has long provided substantial support, including arms and funding, to Hamas.
However, the intelligence — which was relayed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill — leans toward an initial assessment by U.S. analysts that Iran’s government did not play a direct role in the attack.
“Iran may have been aware that Hamas was planning operations against Israel, but without the precise timing or scope of what happened,” a US official said. “Although Iran has long provided material and financial support to Hamas, we currently see nothing that Iran supported or was behind the attack.”
However, the source cautioned that it is premature to draw firm conclusions based on what the US knows so far.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll be reviewing more information to help us evaluate this issue, and at least some members of your system may have a clearer idea of what’s coming or contributed to some aspect of the planning,” he said. said the officer.
Another source familiar with the intelligence told CNN’s Jim Ciuto that the timing of the attack caught Iran by surprise.
No further details were released on the nature of the intelligence data, which a source familiar with the information said was highly confidential.
Some Israeli officials were more willing to attribute direct knowledge of the attacks to Iran.
Iran, which has long funded and trained Hamas militants, may not know the exact timing of the attacks on Gaza, but it certainly “knows,” a senior Israeli official briefed on Israeli intelligence told CNN’s Matthew Chance on Wednesday. Hamas action before that happens.”
For some U.S. and congressional officials, the search for direct evidence of Iranian meddling seems odd without a difference.
“I know the administration doesn’t want to point to Iran as responsible, but I think all roads lead to Iran,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, Republican of Texas, told reporters after a briefing Wednesday. “We certainly don’t want it to escalate, but Iran is already involved.”
According to former security officials and other regional analysts, Tehran has no advisers in besieged Gaza and does not direct the group’s operations. But he has been Hamas’s biggest benefactor for years, providing it with tens of millions of dollars in weapons and parts smuggled into Gaza, as well as extensive technical and ideological support.
A source familiar with the intelligence said that although the group maintains operational independence from Iran — the Iranian government was unlikely to have known about the attack beforehand — without its support, Hamas would not be what it is today. In other words, the source suggested, why would Tehran be any less culpable if it did not know the details of the attack in advance and was enabling the activities of the group that carried it out?
“That’s why you can contradict it,” the source said.
For days, senior U.S. officials have said publicly that they see no signs that Iran was directly involved in the attack, although they condemned Tehran for its “complicit” historic support for Hamas.
“We’re trying to get additional intelligence,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Tuesday. “But at this point, we don’t have that information right now that Iran is playing a significant role — a sustained, deep and shadowy role in providing support and capabilities to Hamas — especially in light of the brutal attack on October 7.”
CNN’s Matthew Chance and Jim Ciuto contributed to this report.
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