UAE behind hacking of Qatari media


The United Arab Emirates arranged for Qatari government social media and news sites to be hacked in late May in order to post false quotes linked to Qatar's emir, prompting the Qatar-Gulf diplomatic crisis, the Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing U.S. intelligence officials.

The Washington Post has yet another great informative story - this time about the suspicion that the UAE is behind a hack of Qatar and that the hack was, itself, part of a plan to stir up the Gulf.

"Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors", UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said, as quoted by the newspaper.

The Washington Post cited unidentified USA intelligence officials as saying they had learned last week of newly analysed information showing that top UAE officials had discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an "Islamic power" and praised Hamas, The Washington Post reported. The QNA (Qatar News Agency) hack led to a major regional upheaval, straining Qatar's relations with its neighbours.

Five countries - the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Yemen - cut ties with Qatar over claims it had destabilished the Gulf by supporting extremist groups.

"The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article", the statement said according to the Washington Post.

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The next day President Trump, on a trip to Saudi Arabia, held a counter-terrorism meeting with Gulf Arab nation leaders, and shortly after that meeting the hacking operation was allegedly put into action.

Gargash also stated that the Arab states need to be convinced that Qatar is no longer a sponsor of terrorism.

"What we really do want is we either reach an agreement and Qatar's behaviour changes, or Qatar makes its own bed and they can move on and we can move with a new relationship".

The Guardian reported last month that an investigation by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had concluded that freelance Russian hackers were responsible.

Gargash said the UAE would not ask foreign companies to choose between doing business with it or Qatar, but suggested worldwide monitoring of Qatar was needed.

But its Gulf Arab neighbours and Egypt have always been irked by its support for anti-establishment movements and for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood that briefly won power in Egypt, which they regard as a political enemy.