DAILY CITES U.S. INTELLIGENCE Washington Post reports, UAE denies Qatar hacking
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 Amir, prompting a diplomatic crisis, the Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing US intelligence officials.
The Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, had been quoted in May as praising Hamas and 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.
Qatar said in late May that hackers had posted fake remarks by the amir, an explanation rejected by Gulf states.
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.
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 denies story
The United Arab Emirates was not responsible for an alleged hack of Qatari websites which helped spark a monthlong diplomatic rift with Doha, the UAE’s minister of state for foreign affairs said on Monday.
Anwar Gargash denied as false a story in the Washington Post that cited US officials saying the UAE had orchestrated the hack of Qatar’s state news agency.
“The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true,” he told the London-based thinktank Chatham House.
Gargash said the four Arab powers were in the process of discussing additional sanctions on Doha.
“There will be some tightening of the screws,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the event, declining to give a time frame on when new measure could be introduced.
“We will see what are these Kuwait’s Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah met Egypt’s President Abdelfattah el-Sisi at Cairo’s Al-Ittihadiya Palace. The acting premier and foreign minister delivered a message of greetings from HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to the Egyptian leader. He also expressed Kuwait’s condolences over lives lost in ‘terrorist incidents’ that recently targeted Egypt. Furthermore, he reiterated Kuwait’s ‘steadfast and unwavering support’ for Egypt’s anti-terrorism efforts and measures taken by Cairo aimed at bolstering security and stability. During the talks, the two officials discussed regional and international developments. The meeting was attended by Assistant FM for the Office of the First Deputy PM and FM Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah and Kuwait’s Ambassador to Egypt Mohammad AlThuwaikh.
screws, whether they are financial, whether they are other, but they are completely within our (remit) as sovereign states.”
Yet the UAE would not escalate its boycott by asking companies to choose between doing business with it or with Qatar, he added.
Gargash, who also suggested international monitoring of Qatar was needed, added there were no plans for a meeting between the two sides under the auspices of Kuwait, a neutral Gulf Arab country seeking to mediate in the spat.
“We are too early to speak about meetings, before we get a mediation with some traction,” he said.
“The information published in the Washington Post on July 16, 2017, which revealed the involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and senior Emirati officials in the hacking of Qatar News Agency, unequivocally proves that this hacking crime took place,” Qatar’s government said in a statement on Monday.
US officials have said that experts
from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) helping Qatar investigate the incident are convinced QNA was hacked, but that identifying the culprit will take time.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his Kuwaiti counterpart that the sanctions were being maintained “in light of what the quartet states see as Qatar’s stalling and procrastination, and lack of concern for the concerns of the four states”.