FORMER US INTELLIGENCE AGENCY HACKERS HELPED UAE SPY ON AL JAZEERA CHAIRMAN AND OTHER JOURNALISTS | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


FORMER US INTELLIGENCE AGENCY HACKERS HELPED UAE SPY ON AL JAZEERA CHAIRMAN AND OTHER JOURNALISTS

A group of American hackers who once worked for United States intelligence agencies helped the United Arab Emirates spy on a BBC host, the chairman of Al Jazeera and other prominent Arab media figures during a tense 2017 confrontation pitting the UAE and its allies against Qatar, a Reuters investigation has found.

The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence programme that spied on dissidents, fighters and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. A Reuters investigation in January revealed Project Raven's existence and inner workings, including the fact that it surveilled a British activist and several unnamed US journalists.

The Raven operatives - who included at least nine former employees of the US National Security Agency and the US military - found themselves thrust into the thick of a high-stakes dispute among US's Gulf allies. The Americans' role in the UAE-Qatar imbroglio highlights how former US intelligence officials have become key players in the cyber wars of other nations, with little oversight from Washington.

The crisis erupted in the spring of 2017, when the UAE and allies - including Saudi Arabia and Egypt - accused Qatar of sowing unrest in the Middle East through its support of media outlets and political groups.

The UAE camp demanded Qatar take a series of actions, including shuttering the Qatar-funded Al Jazeera satellite television network, withdrawing funding from other media outlets Doha supports, and cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood.

In June 2017, the UAE camp severed diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed an air, land and sea blockade against Qatar. It was an unprecedented confrontation among Arab countries that had historically prized consensus.

That week, Project Raven operatives sprang into action, launching operations to break into the Apple iPhones of at least 10 journalists and media executives they believed had connections to the Qatari government or the Muslim Brotherhood, according to programme documents reviewed by Reuters and four people involved in the activities.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

This is quite an operation, but again shows the need for common sense agreements on the common issues countries of the Middle East are trying to solve; unfortunately, this wasn't any kind of solution to the inter-country pressures the governments of the Middle East are trying to resolve.

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