Qatar Waging Influence Operations Across U.S. Through Hacks, Secret Cash Deals

Washington Free Beacon | 2/6/2019 | Adam Kredo
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BY: Adam Kredo

Qatar, a small oil-rich country with outsized regional influence, has been engaged in secret cyber espionage operations on American soil while also spending millions of dollars to pay prominent Washington, D.C., insiders as part of an ongoing campaign to alter America's political landscape, according to former intelligence officials and other experts.

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Qatar's influence operations have largely been unseen, but have enabled the country to amass outsized political influence across Europe and particularly in Washington, D.C., where some of the most powerful diplomats and political insiders are said to operate on Doha's behalf.

While Qatar has for years funded prominent White House-tied think-tanks such as the Brookings Institution, the extent of its massive influence operations did not fully become clear until last year, when it was alleged that Doha secretly funded hack attacks on some 1,500 individuals, including prominent D.C. political insiders.

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However, that just scratches the surface of the country's clandestine influence operations, which includes the funding of U.S. public school curriculum and training programs for local police forces, a panel of experts revealed during a Wednesday conference examining Qatar's efforts to win over international powerbrokers.

"What we really see is the Qataris are playing a very clever game," said Ronald Sandee, a former senior analyst for the Dutch Military Intelligence, who was one of many allegedly hacked by Qatar.

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In addition to hiring former spies from the British intelligence services, Qatar is believed to have conducted spy operations on enemies and allies alike, Sandee said. This includes a massive and ongoing scandal with the FIFA soccer organization in which Qatar—the host of the 2022 world cup—is believed to have offered bribes to scores of officials.

"In general, the Qataris just want control and want to know what their opposition is doing," Sandee said, discussing how scores of Qatari officials tied to the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Washington Free Beacon
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