"Intelligence collected by the U.S. government shows Iran's leaders believe the U.S. planned to attack them, prompting preparation by Tehran for possible counterstrikes," The Wall Street Journal reports. The Daily Beastsimilarly says "U.S. intelligence officials assess that Iran's aggressive moves came in response to the administration's own actions."
Several lawmakers concurred. Based on the "very murky" intelligence, it appears "most of the activities that the Iranians are undertaking are in response to our very aggressive posture in the region," Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) told The Daily Beast. Specifically, according to three U.S. government officials, multiple U.S. intelligence agencies believe Tehran has been reacting to President Trump's "aggressive steps over the last two months," including new sanctions and efforts to isolate Iran but especially his decision to designate Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corp a terrorist organization.
The Pentagon opposed that decision, warning "it could lead to retaliatory attacks against U.S. troops by Iranian-backed forces in the Middle East," Politico reported in early April. Trump and his hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, overruled the generals, calling the Pentagon's warnings overblown.
"Israel was one of the main sources of intelligence on alleged Iranian plots against the U.S. and its allies in the region," Israeli journalist Barak Ravid writes in Axios, but Israeli intelligence doesn't see an "imminent risk of attack by Iran or its proxies" against Israeli interests, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his intelligence and military chiefs this week that "Israel would make every effort not to get dragged into the escalation in the Gulf and would not interfere directly in the situation." Peter Weber