(WASHINGTON) — Iranian government actors are seeking to “take advantage” of pro-Palestinian protests in the United States, according to the director of National Intelligence, including providing financial support to some protesters.

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

This is all part of Iran’s efforts to influence “our democratic process” according to Haines.

“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,” Haines said.

During the spring and into the summer, pro-Palestinian protesters have protested on college campuses and in other places.

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

In the 2020 election cycle Iranian actors sent spoof text messages around purporting to be the Proud Boys.

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