In a development that could have substantial implications to the ongoing "Russia hacked the US elections" narrative, United Arab Emirates media reports that Dubai police have arrested a group of foreign hackers that targeted five White House officials in an email blackmail scheme.
The Arabic-language Al Bayan newspaper and the television channel Dubai One reported the arrests on Monday according to AP. Dubai police did not answer repeated calls for comment.
The Al Bayan quoted Maj. Saud al-Khalidi of Dubai police as saying an "African gang", broke into the emails of the five senior officials and "got highly confidential information." He said the U.S. asked Dubai police for assistance. Al-Khalidi said that investigators tracked down the gang to an apartment in the emirate of Ajman and arrested three suspects. Those arrested are between 24 and 26 years of age and had a list of "5 million bank accounts," as well as hacking software and millions of dollars in assets, he said.
The major said the three people had entered the UAE on visitor visas a few years ago. The reports did not identify the White House officials targeted. Al-Khalidi reportedly said those suspects would be handed over to the United States for possible criminal trials.
The U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi did not respond to requests for comment.
As we await more official details, the google translated report from Al Bayan report is below:
Dubai Police have arrested an organized African gang that broke the e-mail of senior White House officials in the United States of America, Dr. Saud al-Khalidi, head of information and development at the Dubai Police Department of Investigation and Criminal Investigation, revealed. The intention to sell and exploit the information is the purpose of confidentiality obtained by them.
Maj. Khalid al-Khalidi told Al-Bayan that the details of the incident were due to the receipt of official mail from the competent authorities in the United States stating that the e-mail of 5 senior White House officials had been hacked and that the infiltrators sent blackmail messages to the US presidency. Information was highly confidential and it was noted that hackers were suspected within the UAE. All available information was immediately received and a team of experts and cybercriminals was established. Within two hours, the penetration site was identified in one of the emirates.
Majid Khalidi said that the location of the penetration was determined accurately and in coordination with the competent authorities in the Emirate of Ajman was raided the site was an apartment run by an African gang organized by 3 people and resisted the authorities and try to escape, but they were controlled, and found on the site on computers and devices The hackers are also known to have specialized in hacking operations and sell the information they receive in large amounts, and it is not the first process they do, but the first from within the state, where the perpetrators used to change the countries in which they manage their operations.
Khalidi pointed out that the gang members were between the ages of 24 and 26 years old and found a list of bank account numbers of about 5 million bank accounts, estimated at billions of dollars and programs of piracy, and check them showed that they entered the state on a visit visa to carry out the operations they had undertaken for years and actually managed From transferring millions of dollars into their assets, and that no one doubted or recognized the nature of their work or arrested them throughout those years.
Al Khalidi pointed out that the defendants were brought to the competent authorities and that after the end of their sentence within the UAE they will be handed over to the US authorities. This case has established the great expertise of the Dubai Police, especially in electronic crimes, which are considered complex crimes.
Maj. Gen. Saud al-Khalidi said that after the American authorities handed over a complete file of the investigation, which included all the hard evidence and documents that proved that the gang had penetrated hundreds of accounts of officials worldwide, the US authorities honored the UAE for fruitful cooperation, prompt response, A record time although no accurate information is available to locate the gang.