UAE hacked Qatari Govt sites to plant false story

Pauline Gross
July 18, 2017

The Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that showed that top UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on May 23, the day before they occurred.

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Qatari emir, had been falsely quoted in May as praising Hamas, the Palestinian group which governs the Gaza Strip, and saying that Iran was an "Islamic power". The country's embassy in the USA denied the accusations.

Yousef al-Otaiba, UAE's ambassador to the United States, rejected the hack accusation in a statement, saying it was "false", the Washington Post said.

Qatar said the report "unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place". "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors", the statement further read. Doha said the statements were fabricated and disseminated via a hack.

The UAE's foreign minister, Anwar Gargash, denied the reports on Monday morning.

Mr Gargash said Qatar's neighbours were prepared to continue the boycott for months if it did not comply with the list of demands it was handed last month and agree to global monitoring.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE both blocked Qatari-based news outlets, including Al Jazeera, from broadcasting in their territory in the wake of the stories' appearance.

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

The four Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, accuse Qatar of maintaining ties to Iran and of funding Islamist extremist groups.

The agreement between Doha and Washington was signed during U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson's four-day mediation mission to try and end the rift between Qatar and its neighbours, now in its second month.

The fake statements, which spoke favorably of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as of relations with Israel, provoke the ire of a number of Gulf states as well as Egypt, and Qatar was effectively cut off from the Arabian Peninsula with a blockade.

Mr Gargash told the BBC that Qatar's denial had been contradicted by its agreement to review a list of 59 individuals and 12 organisations who the UAE has accused of supporting terrorism and wants arrested or expelled.

"I understand the concern of our allies", he added. "We need to be certain that Qatar, a state with $300 billion in reserves, is no longer an official or unofficial sponsor of jihadist and terrorist causes".

Other reports by GizPress

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