The New York Times on Sunday debunked information spread by official Saudi media outlets a day earlier claiming that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) expressed support for Qatar in the Gulf crisis.
It was not the first time Qatar has been targeted by misinformation.
Last month, Dubai TV aired a false report claiming anti-government demonstrations took place in Qatar’s capital, Doha, and alleged troops – including soldiers from Turkey – fired tear gas at protesters.
The quartet cut diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5 and imposed an air, sea and land blockade on Qatar – accusing it of supporting Iran and “extremists” in the region.
Qatar strongly denies the allegations.
Marwan Kabalan, director of policy analysis at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, told Al Jazeera that by spreading false news, Saudi Arabia might be diverting attention from a story in the US media about the Saudi embassy’s possible links to the September 11, 2001, attacks.
“This shows that Saudis are doing their best to divert the attention from yesterday’s reports by The New York Post and The Independent saying that the Saudi embassy in Washington did, in fact, have ties to some of the hijackers of the 9/11 attacks,” said Kabalan.
The Gulf crisis kicked off in May following the hacking of Qatar News Agency’s website, after which comments falsely attributed to Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani were broadcast by both UAE-based broadcasters Sky News Arabia and Al Arabiya.
The networks went big with the news, inviting guests to dissect and condemn the reported speech.