Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Director of national intelligence warns that Iran is funding anti-Israel protests in US

Avril Haines said that Iran’s activities should not taint genuine protesters or inhibit robust speech

(JTA) — WASHINGTON — Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said Iran was seeking to interfere in the U.S. election and was stoking protests against Israel as it wages war with Hamas, including through funding demonstrations.

“In recent weeks, Iranian government actors have sought to opportunistically take advantage of ongoing protests regarding the war in Gaza, using a playbook we’ve seen other actors use over the years,” Haines said in a comment posted to the DNI website. “We have observed actors tied to Iran’s government posing as activists online, seeking to encourage protests, and even providing financial support to protesters.”

Haines, who is Jewish, said that Iran’s activities should not taint genuine protesters or inhibit robust speech. She said targeted protesters may not be aware they are interacting with a foreign government.

“I want to be clear that I know Americans who participate in protests are, in good faith, expressing their views on the conflict in Gaza – this intelligence does not indicate otherwise,” she said. “Moreover, the freedom to express diverse views, when done peacefully, is essential to our democracy, but it is also important to warn of foreign actors who seek to exploit our debate for their own purposes.”

American security agencies have tracked foreign interference from Russia, China and Iran since at least 2016, when Donald Trump was elected. Federal agents in 2021 filed charges against two Iranian hackers for interference in the election the previous year, in which, according to a U.S. attorney, they sought “to undermine faith and confidence” in the vote.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.