Sunday, 20 January, 2019

UAE reportedly behind hacking of Qatar's official sites: U.S. media

Melinda Barton | 18 July, 2017, 06:31

The United Arab Emirates reportedly hacked a Qatari news website in May and planted a false story, setting off a diplomatic crisis in the region.

U.S. intelligence services have received new data last week and a lot of them suggest that a day before the attack took place a group of Abu Dhabi government officials was discussing the cyber-attacks from May 23.

On June 5, a group of Gulf countries including Saudi Arabi, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt announced they were breaking diplomatic ties with Qatar, alleging its financial support of terrorist organizations.

Gargash will claim a direct result of the blockade's pressure is Qatar's private promises to western powers that it will review the list of 59 extremists the UAE claims are in Doha.

Earlier in the day, the UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, said the story is false.

A spokesman for the Qatari Embassy in Washington responded by pointing to a month-old statement by that government's attorney general Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri, "Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack", the Washington Post reported.

'What is true is Qatar's behavior.

Martin Reardon, an intelligence expert and an Federal Bureau of Investigation veteran, said that while the UAE is "not sophisticated enough" to carry out the hacking on its own, there are hackers "available for contracting". The State Department has sought to manage the sticky situation by not explicitly taking sides, given that the U.S. really has an interest in maintaining strong ties with every one of the countries involved - including Qatar, which hosts over 10,000 USA military personnel and a base that's crucial to the US-led war against ISIS. "Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbors", he added.

The report particularly said senior UAE officials discussed hacking the QNA on-air text-ticker as well as social media.

He will insist the six-week long boycott of Qatar is starting to work and reject the suggestion the four anti-Qatar allies have miscalculated, by claiming that Doha is already making concessions. Qatar has denied the accusations. The bogus remarks were reported by Saudi-supporting media.

Washington has been sending mixed signals as regards to the Qatari crisis, with President Donald Trump seemingly taking credit for igniting the fallout in his Twitter posts, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been at the same time attempting to negotiate a compromise between the Gulf states in a frantic engagement of shuttle diplomacy.

The Gulf crisis is the worst the region has seen since the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council in 1981.