FBI aiding Qatar in 'fake news' hacking probe

FBI aiding Qatar in 'fake news' hacking probe
2 min read
02 June, 2017
Qatar's Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani spoke to media bout the hack [AFP]

The FBI is helping Qatar investigate a hacking incident, which led to a media war with neighbouring states after fake comments from the country's ruler were published on Doha's national news agency late May.

FBI investigators are in Doha to help with the probe to discover how false comments attributed to ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani were published on Qatar News Agency's site.

Qatar asked the US for help investigating the incident, a source told AFP.

The controversial comments from Qatar's ruler were picked up by Saudi and UAE media who have cast doubt on Doha's claims about the hack.

"American support was requested and a team sent which has been in Doha since last Friday, working with Qatar's interior ministry," the source said.

Two other unnamed countries are also helping with the probe with the results expected to be made public as early as next week as Doha continues to come under sustained media attacks from Saudi and UAE newspapers.

Among the controversial comments attributed to the emir was a favourable reference to Saudi Arabia's regional foe Iran.

It follows President Donald Trump's visit to Riyadh, where the US government spoke in support of Saudi Arabia in its soft war against Iran.

Others included favourable comments about Iran-backed Hizballah, Muslim Brotherhood-alligned Palestinian movement Hamas, and Israel.

Doha has denied all the comments and said it had been the victim of a "shameful cybercrime".

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have both used the comments as a pretext to attack Qatar over long-standing issues such as Doha's backing of Islamist groups and affable relations with Iran.

Meanwhile a number of Qatari news sites have been blocked in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt.

It mirrors the diplomatic crisis in 2014, when several Gulf states pulled their ambassadors from Doha due to Qatar's support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have both clamped down on Muslim Brotherhood activists and supported Arab regimes hostile to the Islamist movement.

Kuwait is attempting to reconcile the feuding states, with the Qatari emir meeting Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah last week.