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UAE hacked Qatari government sites, U.S. says

The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May, according to U.S. intelligence officials.The quotes sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbours, officials said.That newly analyzed information gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies confirmed that on May 23, senior members of the UAE government discussed the plan and its implementation. The officials said it remains unclear whether the UAE carried out the hacks itself or contracted to have them done. The false reports said that the emir, among other things, had called Iran an “Islamic power” and praised Hamas.The hacks and posting took place May 24, shortly after President Donald Trump completed a lengthy counterterrorism meeting with Persian Gulf leaders in neighbouring Saudi Arabia and declared them unified.Citing the emir’s reported comments, the Saudis, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt immediately banned all Qatari media. They then broke relations with Qatar and declared a trade and diplomatic boycott, sending the region into a political and diplomatic tailspin that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned could undermine U.S. counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State.Article Continued BelowIn a statement released in Washington by its ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE said the Post story was “false.”“The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article,” the statement said. “What is true is Qatar’s behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qaddafi. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalization, and undermining the stability of its neighbours.”The revelations come as emails purportedly hacked from Otaiba’s private account have circulated to journalists over the past several months. That hack has been claimed by an apparently pro-Qatari organization calling itself GlobalLeaks. Many of the emails highlight the UAE’s determination over the years to rally Washington, D.C., thinkers and policy-makers to its side on the issues at the centre of its dispute with Qatar.

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