Al Jazeera quoted The Daily Beast as saying on Friday that it had been approached by the hackers, who offered a sample of the e-mails they said demonstrated “how a small rich country/company used lobbyists to hurt American interests and those of it allies”.
The group said the leaks “reveal how millions of dollars were used to hurt [the] reputation of American allies and cause policy changes”.
The leakers said they plan to publish the material themselves (on Saturday), the report said.
According to the Daily Beast website, the hackers said the documents had been provided to them by a paid whistle-blower in a Washington, DC lobbying group and contained e-mails from Otaiba’s Hotmail account.
It also said the sample provided included several e-mails between al-Otaiba and Robert Gates, former US defence secretary in the administrations of George Bush and Barack Obama.
Al-Otaiba is a well-known figure in US national security circles - he has been called “the most charming man in Washington” - and has participated in Pentagon strategy meetings at the invitation of the defence officials.
Khalil Jahshan, executive director of the Arab Center in Washington, DC, said depending on the substance of the e-mails, the leak could prove to be “very embarrassing” for the UAE, “particularly if it … reveals any new information pertaining to the source of the hacking that took place at Qatar News Agency (QNA)”.
The news of the potential leak comes as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is believed to be helping Qatar investigate the source of a cyberattack that has led to diplomatic tension among Arab Gulf countries.
An FBI team has been in Doha for the past week after the Qatari government asked the US for help following a security breach by hackers last month who posted fake remarks on its QNA official media platform.
Though Qatar repeatedly claimed the website of QNA was hacked, some newspapers and TV channels in the region have refused to accept the explanation and continued to broadcast the fake news.
According to Turkish news portal Daily Sabah, the e-mails allegedly stolen from the inbox of al-Otaiba revealed the close relationship between the UAE envoy and a pro-Israel, neo-conservative think tank - the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
The hacked e-mails show that al-Otaiba has been in frequent contact with the FDD, which is funded by pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson, an ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Daily Sabah said: “In one of the e-mails obtained by the Intercept, FDD senior counsellor John Hannah, a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, sent Otaiba an article claiming that both the UAE and FDD were responsible for the July 15 military coup attempt in Turkey, saying he is ‘honored to be in the UAE’s company.’”
In another e-mail, Daily Sabah said Hannah tells al-Otaiba that Qatar is hosting the Palestinian movement Hamas at an Emirati-owned hotel.