Intel director reveals Iranian government-linked actors fund and incite anti-Israel protests on US soil


The top U.S. intel official is warning that “actors tied to Iran’s government” are providing funding and stoking anti-Israel protests on U.S. soil in an “increasingly aggressive” campaign. 

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Tuesday issued a statement warning U.S. citizens of “concerning Iranian activity” and that Iranian government actors have sought to “opportunistically take advantage” of anti-Israel protests.

“Iran is becoming increasingly aggressive in their foreign influence efforts, seeking to stoke discord and undermine confidence in our democratic institutions, as we have seen them do in the past, including in prior election cycles,” she said. “They continue to adapt their cyber and influence activities, using social media platforms and issuing threats.”

Haines claimed that in recent weeks, people with the Iranian government have sought to take advantage of anti-Israeli protests in an opportunistic fashion, using a “playbook” the U.S. government is familiar with. 

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

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with a group of students in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday, Nov. 1.  (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

“Furthermore, Americans who are being targeted by this Iranian campaign may not be aware that they are interacting with or receiving support from a foreign government,” she said, adding that all Americans should “remain vigilant as they engage online with accounts and actors they do not personally know.”

Haines added that it is “likely” Iran “will continue to rely on their intelligence services in these efforts, as well as Iran-based online influencers, to promote their narratives.”

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Anti-Israel protesters marching in Manhattan, NYC. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

For months now, anti-Israel protests have erupted across the country on college campuses — some say in support of the brutal attacks on Israel carried out by Hamas — a terror group supported by Iran. Others argue they are protesting Israel’s retaliatory attacks in Gaza.

Tehran tried to take some credit for the attack as part of revenge for the killing of Qassem Soleimani during the Trump administration, though Hamas flatly denied the claims in a bizarre spat between close allies. 

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In November, a report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) revealed that 15 Iran-backed militias across the Middle East that have “incestuous” ties to Tehran and are working as a “force multiplier” for the country to oppose Israel and the U.S.

Bill Roggio, senior fellow at FDD and co-author of the report, says the “root” of the problem the U.S. faces in the Middle East is “an Iranian regime that has nothing but animosity towards the United States.”

“[A]nd until we start hearing that from the administration, there will continue to be confusion,” Roggio said.

“The American public doesn’t understand these types of wars because the American government is willing to do things like negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran to treat Iran like it is a responsible actor in the international community,” he said.

Fox News Digital’s Peter Aitken contributed to this report.



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