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Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
Photo: AFP
UAE reportedly arranged Qatari hacking that sparked diplomatic row
Washington Post reports UAE hacked Qatari government sites, allowing UAE to post false, inflammatory quotes linked to Qatar's emir, which prompted current diplomatic crisis; UAE ambassador calls report 'false,' saying, 'What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi.'
The United Arab Emirates arranged for Qatari government social media and news sites to be hacked in late May in order to post fiery but false quotes linked to Qatar's emir, prompting the current diplomatic crisis and Arab ban on Qatar, the Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing US intelligence officials.

 

 

The emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had been quoted in May as praising Gaza-based terrorist group turned political party Hamas, while also saying that Iran was an "Islamic power," the Post reported. In response, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of supporting terrorism.

The foreign ministers of the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia meet in Cairo in light of Qatar boycott (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)
The foreign ministers of the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Saudi Arabia meet in Cairo in light of Qatar boycott (Photo: Reuters)

 

Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the emir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states.

 

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

 

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Qatar Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Photo: AP)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Qatar Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Photo: AP)

 

The officials said it was unclear if the UAE hacked the websites or paid for them to be carried out, the newspaper reported. The Post did not identify the intelligence officials it spoke to for the report.

 

UAE Ambassador Yousef al-Otaiba denied the report in a statement, saying it was "false," the Post said.

 

"What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors," the statement said.

 

Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Photo: AFP)
Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Photo: AFP)

 

Speaking at a forum in London, UAE Foreign Affairs Minister Anwar Gargash added on Monday that the UAE was not responsible for the alleged hack of Qatari websites that helped spark the diplomatic rift with Doha, and that the UAE would not escalate its boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or with Qatar.

 

The US State Department declined comment in response to a Reuters query.

 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.

 

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