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Syrian Electronic Army’s Twitter hacking campaign racks up another victory

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
AP/Hamad bin Khalifa
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, is one of the targets of the Syrian Electronic Army’s pro-Assad messages.
By Christopher Mims
Middle EastPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

If you want a view into the governments arrayed on either side of Syria’s civil war, the Syrian Electronic Army’s hacking of the Qatar Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter accounts is a good place to start.

From the hacked Qatar Foundation Twitter account.

Pro-Assad hackers—that is, hackers who support the current regime in Syria in what has been widely denounced as a war on its own people—took control of the Twitter account of the Qatar Foundation around 7AM GMT, and as of this writing they’re still in possession, using it to send out messages accusing Qatar and its ruling family of supporting terrorism and Al Qaeda. Previously, the SEA had successfully hacked an Agence France-Presse Twitter account and the website of Al Jazeera, which until 2011 was owned by the government of Qatar.

The Qatar Foundation is a non-profit, but it also receives funding from the Qatari government, and so can be considered a quasi-governmental body. It has 53,000 followers on Twitter. Qatar’s government recently sent $100 million in humanitarian aid to Syria, and has been accused by supporters of the Assad regime of supporting anti-Assad forces in the country. Qatar was among the first states to recognize the Syrian National Coalition as the new government of Syria, and has called on the UN security council to move against Assad’s forces.

When a social media account is hacked, and the attackers change all the associated email addresses and other points of contact, the only thing left for an account owner to do is lodge a support request with Twitter or Facebook directly. That’s why, when an account is hacked, it often takes hours for the damage to be undone—by design, the process of restoring access requires human intervention.

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