Intelligence Chief Warns of Iran’s Role in US Gaza Demonstrations

Wed Jul 10 2024
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WASHINGTON, USA: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has raised concerns over Iran’s covert efforts to exploit American campus protests concerning Israel’s actions in Gaza.

According to Haines, Iranian-linked groups are leveraging popular social media platforms in the US to pose as activists, encourage protests on campuses, and even provide financial support to some protest groups.

This tactic is aimed at exacerbating domestic discord and undermining confidence in democratic institutions in the lead-up to the upcoming US election.

Haines emphasized that while Americans have the right to protest and express their views, they need to be vigilant against foreign interference in domestic politics.

The use of online bots and fake social media accounts by Iran, Russia, and China to amplify divisive issues within the US has been an ongoing concern for US intelligence agencies. These campaigns often exploit existing social conflicts and aim to manipulate public opinion on sensitive topics ranging from immigration to international conflicts like the Israel-Palestine issue.

The protests over Israel’s actions in Gaza have not only sparked debates on antisemitism and the role of external influences but have also become a political issue affecting campaign strategies. Concerns about the involvement of “outside agitators” and the potential escalation of regional conflicts between Israel and Iran further complicate the domestic landscape.

Moreover, US intelligence officials highlighted Russia as the primary threat due to its comprehensive government-backed efforts to spread election disinformation. Russia’s strategy includes using independent news sites and unwitting American influencers to disseminate misleading narratives that align with Russian interests. Despite declining to directly specify a preferred candidate, intelligence sources reiterated Russia’s historical preference for candidates perceived as favorable to its geopolitical objectives.

In contrast, China has exhibited a more cautious approach, refraining from overtly targeting the US presidential race with disinformation campaigns. Officials indicated that China’s strategic focus remains on its regional interests and maintaining stability in its relations with both presidential candidates, neither of whom are seen as distinctly advantageous to China’s strategic goals.

Senator Mark Warner underscored the vulnerability of social media as a conduit for foreign influence operations, emphasizing the critical role of intelligence briefings in educating the public about these threats.

As the 2024 election approaches, the US remains vigilant against foreign interference, particularly through sophisticated digital tactics aimed at exacerbating social, racial, and political divisions among Americans.

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