The UAE was behind a hacking campaign against Doha which sparked a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf region, US intelligence sources have said, after false statements attributed to Qatar’s emir were posted on an official news agency website.
Senior UAE powers are said to have instigated the campaign against Doha, which saw incendiary statements attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani posted on Qatar’s new agency websites and social media in May, the sources told US media.
This included false quotes from the emir calling Iran a “great Islamic power” and claims that Doha has good relations with Israel, according to The Washington Post.
Washington officials recently uncovered the new information which pointed to an orchestrated propaganda campaign led by Abu Dhabi which began shortly after President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia for his first overseas visit as US head.
The false statements were posted on Qatar News Agency’s website and social media on 24 May, which sparked a diplomatic and economic blockade of Doha by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt after accusations that Qatar was supporting “terrorist groups”.
Trump appeared to publically back the Saudi-UAE led efforts to isolate Qatar, however, leading Washington officials such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have quietly supported Doha and tried to end the blockade.
The US has its largest regional military base in Qatar, which has been key to the Washington-led war against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Qatar has previously stated that its intelligence uncovered information that iPhones from countries blockading countries were involved in the false information campaign.
“Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack,” Qataris Attorney General Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri said last month.
US intelligence agents have been helping Qatar uncover the parties behind the hack.
UAE ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba issued a statement claiming The Washington Post story was “false”.
Hacked emails attributed to Otaiba and released in June showed that the UAE had spent millions of dollars to damage the reputation of US allies in the region and change Washington’s Middle East policy.
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