A cyber attack on Qatar at the end of May, in which news and social media web sites carried false quotes attributed to Qatar's emir Sheik Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, was orchestrated by neighbouring United Arab Emirates, according to US intelligence.
The cyber attack took place on 24 May and included false reports that the emir had described Iran as an "Islamic power", and had praised Islamist fundamentalist terror group Hamas.
The comments were used as justification for a UAE and Saudi Arabia-led diplomatic ostracism of Qatar, including a trade and transport embargo. Other countries involved in the embargo included Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Senegal and Mauritania.
But according to US intelligence agencies, in a report leaked to the Washington Post, the hack was planned by UAE government officials, although it is unclear whether UAE government agencies carried out the cyber attacks directly or contracted a third-party to do it for them to keep it at arm's length.
The UAE government has responded by describing the Washington Post article as 'false'.
"The UAE had no role whatsoever in the alleged hacking described in the article," said the UAE's ambassador to the US in a statement. It continued: "What is true is Qatar's behaviour. Funding, supporting, and enabling extremists from the Taliban to Hamas and Qadafi [the former Libyan leader]. Inciting violence, encouraging radicalisation, and undermining the stability of its neighbours."
Anwar Gargash, the UAE's minister of state for foreign affairs, also claimed the story was false. "The Washington Post story today that we actually hacked the Qataris is also not true," he told the London-based think-tank Chatham House.
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