The United Arab Emirates made arrangements for the hacking of Qatari government’s social media and news sites in May in order to post false quotes linked to Qatar’s emir, leading to the diplomatic standoff in the Gulf, The Washington Post reported on Sunday quoting unidentified intelligence officials from the United States.
In May, the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was falsely quoted as praising Hamas and saying that Iran was an “Islamic power,” in a post appear in Qatari News Agency's website. The agency had quickly claimed it was hacked and removed the article.
The hacks and posting took place on May 24, shortly after President Trump completed a lengthy ‘counterterrorism meeting’ with Persian Gulf leaders in neighboring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified, the Post reported.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar on 5 June, accusing it of supporting “terrorism”, an allegation strongly denied by Doha.
According to the Post, the US intelligence officials learned last week of newly analysed information that senior UAE government officials discussed the planned hacks on 23 May, the day before they occurred.
However, the UAE has denied the allegations and said the report was “false”. “The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” UAE Ambassador in Washington Yousef al-Otaiba, said in a statement, the newspaper reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was previously known to be working with Qatar to probe the hacking.
Qatar, in June, claimed it had proof that the recent hacking of its state-run news agency and government social media accounts was linked to countries that have recently cut ties with it.
“Qatar has evidence that certain iPhones originating from countries laying siege to Qatar were used in the hack,” Qatar’s attorney general Ali Bin Fetais al-Marri, told reporters in the capital on 21 June.