The Washington Post

GOP fundraiser claims Qatar hired ex-spies to help target him

- BY ELLEN NAKASHIMA Julie Tate, Josh Dawsey and Shane Harris contribute­d to this report.

A top GOP fundraiser and supporter of President Trump alleged in a court filing Thursday that a former CIA operative and a former British spy helped the government of Qatar find hackers to target him as part of a broader conspiracy to blunt his outspoken criticism of the Gulf state.

Elliott Broidy, who resigned last month as Republican National Committee deputy finance chairman after acknowledg­ing that he had impregnate­d a former Playboy model, alleged in the filing that the state of Qatar in late 2017 hired Kevin Chalker and David Mark Powell to coordinate a hacking and informatio­n operation directed at him.

Chalker, a former cyber operative at the CIA, founded New York-based Global Risk Advisors. Powell, his business partner, is a former British intelligen­ce operative who opened a GRA office in Doha in October 2017, Broidy’s filing said.

The allegation­s are contained in a legal complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, where Broidy’s firm, Broidy Capital Management, is located. The complaint is an amendment to a lawsuit filed in March that accused the Qatari government of orchestrat­ing a campaign to discredit Broidy.

“We believe the evidence is clear that a nation state is waging a sophistica­ted cyber informatio­n campaign against me in order to silence me,” Broidy said in a statement.

Broidy has been highly critical of what he alleges is Qatar’s support for terrorism and close ties to Iran. He alleged last year that Qatar launched a multimilli­on-dollar public relations campaign to counter allegation­s that it had backed alQaeda, Hamas, the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhoo­d.

The complaint also names current and former Qatari officials as part of the conspiracy, including Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the brother of the emir of Qatar, and Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a former head of investment­s for the Qatar Investment Authority. Rumaihi, who left government in March 2017, is a private investor.

Rumaihi and his spokesman did not return phone calls seeking comment.

According to the complaint, Chalker and Powell introduced the Qatari officials to “cyber mercenarie­s in various countries” to coordinate the hack of Broidy’s email server in Los Angeles and that companies and individual­s in several countries were involved in the operation.

Jassim Al Thani, a spokesman for the Qatar Embassy in Washington, said: “Mr. Broidy’s latest false allegation is yet another desperate attempt to divert attention from his own illegal activities. His claims are completely fabricated and without merit. He attempts to portray Qatar as the aggressor, when he knows full well Qatar does not operate in this manner. The facts show it was Mr. Broidy who conspired in the shadows against Qatar — not the other way around.”

Chalker did not respond to requests for comment, and Powell could not be reached.

The lawsuit comes in the midst of an ongoing feud between Qatar and a bloc of four countries — Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt — that imposed a blockade against Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and others accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism, an allegation rejected by Qatar, which counters that the Saudis resent its independen­t foreign policy and that it is home to Al Jazeera, the widely watched television network.

Both sides have hired fleets of lobbyists and public relations specialist­s to advance their cases in Washington.

 ?? DAVID KARP/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Elliott Broidy has alleged that Qatar supports terrorism.
DAVID KARP/ASSOCIATED PRESS Elliott Broidy has alleged that Qatar supports terrorism.

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