UAE accused of igniting Gulf crisis with ‘fake news’ hack
THE United Arab Emirates has been accused of hacking Qatar’s state news agency and planting a fake news story that helped cause the diplomatic crisis engulfing the region.
Senior members of the UAE government had discussed a plan to hack Qatari state media sites on May 23, according to US intelligence officials.
That day, the official Qatar News Agency quoted the country’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-thani, as criticising US “hostility” towards Iran, describing it as an “Islamic power that cannot be ignored”, and praising Hamas, an ideological foe of other members of the Gulf Co-operation Council.
Shortly after the comments were published, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, announced a diplomatic and transport blockade.
Qatari officials said the agency had been hacked by an “unknown entity” and that the story had “no basis whatsoever”.
US officials said they had independent corroboration that the hack was orchestrated by the UAE, according to the Washington Post.
Anwar Gargash, the UAE state minister for foreign affairs, denied his country had been behind the cyber attack. He repeated claims – denied by Qatar – that the country funds extremists.
“You cannot be part of a regional organisation dedicated to strengthening mutual security and furthering mutual interest and at the same time undermine that security,” he said. “You cannot be both our friend and a friend of al-qaeda. We’ve sent a message to Qatar. We are not after regime change. We are after a change of behaviour.”