Toronto - The US intelligence community is accusing Russia of hacking the Qatari state news agency, planting a fake news story which triggered the recent crisis among the Gulf countries.
Toronto – The US intelligence community is accusing Russia of hacking the Qatari state news agency, planting a fake news story which triggered the recent crisis among the Gulf countries.
After responding to a complaint lodged two weeks ago by Qatar saying that their state news agency had been hacked, US intelligence officials traveled to Doha and have indicated that their investigation points directly at Russia.
These same officials are voicing concern that Russia is using hacking as a method of creating tensions between the US and its allies around the globe, a form of divide and conquer strategy.
They are not revealing if the source of the hacking was a private Russian interest or was state-sponsored. One official did say, however, that “not much happens in that country without the blessing of the government.”
The hacking uncovered by the FBI involved a fake news story planted within the state news agency, indicating that Qatar was financing terrorism. On Monday, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain publicly condemned Qatar in an ever-widening circle of regional isolation. Qatar has denied the accusations from the start, labeling them a “smear campaign.”
Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdoulrahman al-Thani, said the decision of the three countries to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar was based on “fabricated” allegations.
“Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation and we think that the entire crisis being based on misinformation.”
“Because it was started based on fabricated news, being wedged and being inserted in our national news agency which was hacked and proved by the FBI.”
Trump, meanwhile spent Tuesday crowing on Twitter, claiming the ostracization of Qatar as a victory resulting directly from his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.
“So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off,” he tweeted. “They said they would take a hard line on funding extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”
Since the pre-9/11 days, US and its European allies have been complaining bitterly about terror funding stemming from the Gulf States, keenly aware that 15 of the 9/11 hijackers were all Saudi citizens.
Early Monday morning, six Middle Eastern nations announced they had cut diplomatic ties with Qatar. The six included Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen and Lybia. It was immediately seen as an unprecedented step by the international community.
In a statement issued by Saudi Arabia, they openly accused Qatar of collaborating with “Iranian-backed terrorist groups.”
Qatar has remained steadfast in its dealings with Iran. Experts view this as a likely cause of the divide among the key players in the region.