FBI Director Christopher Wray has revealed that the bureau is actively looking into the possibility of foreign influence or interference in protests that have erupted across the nation against police brutality following the slaying of George Floyd.
During an interview on Fox News, Wray said the agency was considering the possibility because similar tactics have been used by US adversaries in the past.
"We have certainly seen in the past a variety of foreign adversaries looking to amplify controversy in this country," Wray said. "And they use state media. They use social media. Some of that is through propaganda, some of that's through disinformation, some of that's through just fake information."
"And we are looking carefully at the prospect of foreign influence or foreign interference in all the protest activities (that's) occurred over the last few weeks," he said.
Protests Driven by 'Ideologies'
Thousands of disgruntled Americans have taken to the streets in recent weeks following the deaths of Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of the U.S. police. As some of the demonstrations have spiraled out of control into violence, riots looting and destruction of property, some authorities have leveled allegations of foreign involvement.
"The violence that occurred during the protest over the past few weeks is driven by a variety of different motivations and ideologies, it's not all the work of any single ideology movement or group," Wray said. "We certainly have a number of active ongoing investigations into violent anarchist extremists."
The director added that the FBI is also investigating people who self-identify with ANTIFA, a far-left political organization.
Russia, China's Involvement in Protests
National Security Adviser (NSA) Robert O'Brien has pointed fingers at China, claiming that Chinese social media is circulating messages gloating about the chaos in the U.S. In an interview with ABC last month, he also noted some Russian activists playing a role in the unrest, echoing the sentiments of former President Barack Obama's NSA adviser Susan Rice, who suggested that the Russians are behind the violent nationwide demonstrations.
About China's involvement, Wray noted that the Xi Jinping-led country is clearly engaged in a wide relay of malign activities -- including "pursuing a campaign of intellectual property theft economic espionage, cyber-intrusions that target businesses -- big and small -- all across the country and our academic research institutions."
China additionally "have an interest in influencing our political thought â our policies â to try and shift them in a more friendly, pro-China, pro-Chinese Communist party direction; and so sometimes that gets wrapped up in election issues," Wray said, before adding that the FBI has over 2,000 active investigations that trace back to the Chinese government.
Russia and China have flooded social media with content celebrating the "collapse of the US." Since May, government officials, state-backed media outlets and other Twitter users linked to either Beijing or Moscow have increasingly piggybacked onto hashtags linked to Floyd to push divisive messages and criticize Washington's handling of the unfolding crisis, as pointed out by Politico.