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Washington Post: US intelligence confirms UAE planned Qatar fake news hack

Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council pose for a photo at the 37th Leaders Summit in Manama, Bahrain on December 6, 2016. [Stringer/ Anadolu Agency ]
Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council pose for a photo at the 37th Leaders Summit in Manama, Bahrain on December 6, 2016. [Stringer/ Anadolu Agency ]

US intelligence agencies have confirmed that The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites according to the Washington Post. The move, that occurred in late May, resulted in the posting of false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, and sparked the current crisis that has led to the isolation of Qatar by several of its neighbours.

According to the Washington Post’s report, officials became aware that newly analyzed intelligence, gathered by US agencies, confirmed that on 23 May, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The hacks were carried out the next day and shortly after President Trump’s counter terrorism summit with Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia.

The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had praised Iran and Hamas. Though it is not yet clear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or outsourced them.

Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the US has denied the Washington Post’s report: “The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article … What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors.”

Though the Post notes that these latest revelations come as emails purportedly hacked from Otaiba’s private account have circulated to journalists over the past several months. That hack has been claimed by an apparently pro-Qatari organization calling itself GlobalLeaks. Many of the emails highlight the UAE’s determination over the years to rally Washington thinkers and policymakers to its side on the issues at the center of its dispute with Qatar.

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