Intelligence Official Warns That Iran Is Financing, Encouraging Anti-Israel Protests on American Campuses 

Individuals with ties to the Iranian government are posing as online activists, encouraging protests, and even providing financial support to protestors, the intelligence agency finds.

Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
Anti-Israel protesters at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Iran has been taking advantage of the ongoing anti-Israel demonstrations “to stoke discord and undermine confidence” in American democracy, the director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, is warning. 

In a statement released on Tuesday, Ms. Haines details how Iranian government actors are taking to social media to sow strife in America — a “playbook” that the intelligence agency has “seen other actors use over the years.”

“We have observed actors tied to Iran’s government posing as activists online, seeking to encourage protests, and even providing financial support to protesters,” Ms. Haines notes. 

Americans who are targeted by the guerrilla social media campaign, Ms. Haines writes, are likely not aware that they are receiving support from Iran. 

While Ms. Haines underscores that the freedom of protest is essential to American democracy, she adds that it is “also important to warn of foreign actors who seek to exploit our debate for their own purposes.” 

“We urge all Americans to remain vigilant as they engage online with accounts and actors they do not personally know,” she cautions. 

The report comes just a few months after the intelligence director took to Congress to testify about Iran’s increasingly aggressive foreign influence efforts, particularly in the run up to the election. 

“They continue to adapt their cyber and influence activities, using social media platforms, issuing threats, disseminating disinformation,” she said before Congress in May. “It is likely that they will continue to rely on their intelligence services in these efforts and Iran-based online influencers to promote their narratives.”

The New York Sun

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