July 21 (UPI) — Qatar said its state news and social media websites were compromised by hackers in the United Arab Emirates.
It did not say the UAE government was responsible, but a comment Thursday by the chief of the Qatari Interior Ministry was the first time Doha tied false reports on its websites to the UAE.
“We are sure and know that…the beneficiary [of the hacking] is in the U.A.E.,” Lt. Col. Ali Mohammed Al Muhannadi said while presenting the results of the investigation into the hacking.
The incident sparked a diplomatic rift between Qatar and other Arab states in which the Middle Eastern nation was accused of aiding terrorist causes. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain immediately broke off diplomatic relations.
Qatar was presented with a list of 13 demands, which it rejected, to avoid diplomatic and economic isolation in the Arab community.
The Washington Post cited U.S. intelligence officers in a story saying the UAE coordinated hacks of Qatari government sites.
The hacks included stories that appeared on websites in May which Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, praised Iran and the terrorist group Hamas. They were posted shortly after President Donald Trump visited neighboring Saudi Arabia for a counterterrorism meeting.
Qatar has maintained that the emir never made the comments, and that they were planted by hackers.
Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, UAE foreign minister, dismissed the report of his country’s involvement in any hacking earlier this week.
The UAE embassy in Washington quoted its ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, in Twitter messages saying, “UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking… What is true is Qatar’s behavior. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas Qadafi.” He added that Qatar is “undermining the stability of its neighbors.”