FBI investigators believe Russian hackers may have planted the fake story which started the diplomatic row within the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC).
US officials briefed on the investigation, reported CNN, believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted fake news reports that prompted Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab states to cut relations with Qatar.
The FBI investigation supports Qatar’s claim that the news story of the country’s Emir, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, is fake.
Saudi Arabia led the diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar. With several other countries joining and events moving quickly, the row seems to have spiralled out of control.
However, intelligence gathered by the US security agencies indicates that Russian hackers were behind the fake story first reported by the Qatari government two weeks ago.
US officials were reported by CNN saying that the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the US and its allies. In recent months, suspected Russian cyber activities, including the use of fake news stories, have turned up amid elections in France, Germany and other countries.
The Qatari foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told the media that the FBI had confirmed the hack and the planted fake news:
Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis is being based on misinformation.
“It was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency, which was hacked and proved by the FBI,” he said.