• Qatar amends anti-terror law amid row with neighbors

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    DOHA: Qatar announced Thursday changes to its anti-terror legislation, one of the controversial issues at the core of the crisis between Doha and its neighbors who accuse it of backing extremists.

    The decree from Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani establishes two national lists for individuals and terrorist entities and sets out the requirements for being included on them.

    It also defines terrorists, terrorist crimes, terrorist entities as well as the financing of terrorism.

    The decree follows the signing of a US-Qatar agreement to combat terror funding, later dismissed by the Gulf nation’s neighbors.

    Hacking row
    Qatar also accused the United Arab Emirates of being behind the “hacking” of its national news agency.

    The alleged hack of the Qatar News Agency website on May 24 attributed explosive remarks to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

    The remarks, denied by Doha, covered sensitive political subjects such as Iran, Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Israel and the United States.

    Qatar said its neighbors were behind the alleged hacking but on Thursday the head of an investigation pointed the finger of blame at the UAE.

    General Ali Mohammed al-Mohannadi told a news conference the “hacking” was undertaken “from two sites… in the Emirates.”

    “The hacker took control of the agency’s network, stole the accounts on its electronic site and uploaded fake information,” Mohannadi said.

    The deputy head of Qatar’s cyber security department, Othmane Salem al-Hamoud, told reporters that the alleged hacker “had found a flaw in the news agency’s network which was shared with another individual on Skype.”

    “This individual then entered this breach in order to control the QNA network,” he said.

    Mohannadi said the results of the investigation were submitted to the state prosecutor who is expected to take “the appropriate measures.” He did not elaborate.

    Earlier this month the Washington Post, citing US intelligence officials, reported that the UAE may have been behind the hack.

    But the report was dismissed as “purely not true” by the UAE state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash.

    A CNN report last month said US intelligence officials believe Russian hackers planted a false news story that led to the Gulf dispute. But Moscow denied the report.

    Qatar has said FBI agents were helping Doha investigate the source of the alleged hack.

    Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have put in place a boycott on Qatar since June 5.

    They have imposed sanctions on Doha, including closing its only land border, refusing Qatar access to their airspace and ordering their citizens back from Qatar.

    They also presented the emirate with a list of 13 demands with which to comply to end the worst political crisis in the region for years.

    The Sunni-ruled Arab countries that cut ties with Qatar accuse it of maintaining close ties with Shiite rival Iran and of supporting and funding extremists. Doha denies the claims.

    AFP

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