Qatar has been accused of hiring a team of former CIA and US military intelligence officials to hack a prominent financier for the Republican party for questioning the country’s support of terrorism, according to a new lawsuit reported by US-based news site The Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday.
Elliott Broidy, the Republican financier, has filed a lawsuit against Qatar alleging that the country employed former clandestine operatives to carry out a cyber-espionage operation on his personal and business emails in 2018, the Beacon said.
The information garnered from the hack was later leaked to the media to discredit Broidy, his allegations against Qatar, and advance Qatari interests in the US, Broidy alleges, the Beacon reported.
The hackers who were allegedly part of the Global Risk Advisors (GRA) consulting group and were paid by Qatar to conduct the raid on Broidy, as well as other critics of Doha.
The group “conspired with [American] public-relations strategists to steal Mr. Broidy’s confidential materials and plant carefully curated excerpts and manipulated materials with the press to cause Plaintiffs maximum damage,” the lawsuit said, according to the Beacon.
The consulting group is made up of former CIA and military intelligence officials with experience in cyber espionage, the Beacon said.
“GRA was perfectly suited for this work because it employs former National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, and U.S. Armed Forces personnel with extensive offensive hacking expertise,” the lawsuit continued.
Broidy is seeking for the lawsuit to go to trial, to determine if GRA and other US consulting groups were complicit in the Qatari conspiracy, the Beacon reported.
Employees of GRA “are the world-class hackers who, primarily from their US locations and with US citizen hackers, illegally broke into the email servers of Mr. Broidy, his wife, [and] his executive assistant,” the lawsuit said, according to the Beacon.
“They then distributed the hacked materials in a secure manner to various media outlets, as directed by other members of the conspiracy, to inflict maximum damage on Mr. Broidy,” it added.
Long battle against Qatar
The lawsuit is a continuation of a long-running battle between Broidy and Doha.
In September 2018, he said that cybercriminals working for the Qatari government had targeted hundreds of people, including senior officials from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Syria.
Broidy’s legal team identified as many as 1,200 individuals targeted by the same cybercriminals as part of the case.
Earlier that year, Broidy had made statements alleging that Qatar targeted him because of his advocacy work against Doha and “strong political views against Qatar’s state sponsored terrorism and double dealing.”