The UAE Strong Man's Plans to Infiltrate Human Rights Watch and Hack Aljazeera Uncovered

Published December 23rd, 2020 - 07:16 GMT
The UAE Strong Man's Plans to Infiltrate Human Rights Watch and Hack Aljazeera Uncovered
Since 2017, the GCC crisis has been characterized by heavy hacking operations in boths sides' efforts to obtain evidence on hostile activities. (Al Bawaba)

Since the summer of 2017, the GCC has been living one of its longest and deepest political rifts between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain on one side, and Qatar on the other. The crisis that started by alleged online attacks isn't over yet, despite speculations of an approaching reconciliation which might be harder to achieve now that new reports are pointing to a series of other plans meant to harm Qatar's economy and image, many of which didn't come through.

Reports by Bloomberg has recently uncovered the content of several 2017 emails exchanged between the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and a number of foreign advisers, many of whom are connected to the Luxumnorg-based Banque Havilland run by David Rowland who has a strong personal relationship with the Emirati heir, who provided MBZ with potential plans to disrupt the Qatari economy in addition to hacking a number of Qatari-related organizations.

While the Bloomberg report highlights Banque Havilland's statement rejecting all claims and denying any allegations of being a part of any conspiracies against Qatari interests, it notes that files uncovering the alleged plans "have also been illegally secured via another Qatari hacking" as the country carries out lawsuits against the bank in London.

The London lawsuit filed by Qatar claims that the alleged plan had cost the country over $40 billion in financial damage since 2017

"A page from a 2017 presentation prepared by a former Banque Havilland analyst that is now part of a London lawsuit brought by the government of Qatar. That’s where hackers found it." - Bloomberg

According to the lengthy investigation published by Bloomberg, MBZ's advisors have also orchestrated a 2012 attempt to infiltrate Human Rights Watch as its reports included heavy criticism of his country's human rights record of arresting and persecuting political activists, calling for reforms in light of the region's Arab Spring. The report details how Rowland gifted $2 million to the organization before trying to get a chairman of his foundations elected to the Human Rights Watch board in April 2012.

Additionally, the Guardian had most recently revealed that governments of UAE and Saudi Arabia have been using Israeli spyware developed by NSO to hack phones of at least 26 of Aljazeera's journalists, considering that the media network is fully financed by their rival, the Qatari government.

Aljazeera's reporting on Saudi and Emirati policies and human rights records have been amongst the major causes of the Gulf crisis, especially as Aljazeera's reports highlighted a Saudi-Emirati request of shutting down the media network as a condition to end the regional crisis.

Even though Kuwaiti media reports have been hinting at an approaching end to the GCC crisis, as Kuwait mediates between the two rivals, recent media reports might suggest that the Gulf crack is deeper than previously thought.


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