Thursday, March 30, 2023

Exiled Saudi intelligence official: MbS “psychopath” and “killer”

A former top Saudi intelligence official has called Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) a “psychopath” and a “killer”. The ex-official says MbS uses a team of mercenaries called the "Tiger Squad" to carry out extrajudicial kidnappings and killings.

The ex-official in the Saudi Arabian government said in a new interview that he was targeted by a hit team after fleeing to Canada following the 2017 takeover by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Saad Aljabri, who served as the number two intelligence official in Saudi Arabia, told Scott Pelley in an interview for “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday that he was targeted by a hit team in mid-October 2018, while living in Canada. 

Aljabri said a team of six people arrived at the Ottawa Airport, lied to customs about not knowing each other, and had suspicious equipment with them for DNA analysis. The team, however, was deported, he added.

Canada acknowledged part of that story in a statement to “60 Minutes”, telling the program “we are aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to… threaten…those living in Canada. It is completely unacceptable”.

Aljabri stated he received a warning from a friend in a Middle Eastern intelligence service prior to the attempted attack.

“And the warning I received, don’t be in a proximity of any Saudi mission in Canada. Don’t go to the consulate. Don’t go to the embassy. I said why? Said, they dismembered the guy, they kill him. You are on the top of the list,” Aljabri told Pelley.

Bin Salman faced a wave of international scrutiny following the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. US intelligence agencies believe bin Salman approved the killing.

Aljabri became an alleged target of bin Salman after he fled Saudi Arabia for Canada following the crown prince’s power grab in 2017.

MbS arrested Mohammed bin Nayef, the then-heir to the throne, in 2017. Aljabri served under Nayef, and fled to Canada following his boss’ arrest, where he now remains.

The former official called bin Salman a “psychopath” and a “killer”.

“I am here to sound the alarm about a psychopath, killer, in the Middle East with infinite resources, who poses [a] threat to his people, to the Americans and to the planet”, Aljabri said of bin Salman.

When pressed by Pelley on his decision to call bin Salman a “psychopath”, Aljabri stated, “A psychopath with no empathy, doesn’t feel emotion, never learned from his experience. And we have witnessed atrocities and crimes committed by this killer.”

Aljabri added his family is now being penalized by the crown prince for Saad’s act of fleeing to Canada.

His son and daughter, both of whom were planning to attend American colleges, are now in Saudi prisons. 

Khalid Aljabri, Saad’s oldest son, told Pelley that Saad’s son-in-law was also kidnapped in a third country and brought back to the Kingdom, where he was detained and tortured “as a proxy for his father-in-law, meaning my dad.”

“They even asked him a question, who do you think we should arrest and torture so Dr. Saad can come back to the Kingdom?” Khalid told Pelley.

Saad Aljabri stated he believes bin Salman “fears my information”, and expects to be killed one day because of the crown prince’s animosity toward him.

“I expect to be killed one day because this guy will not rest off until he see me dead,” Aljabri continued.

Aljabri, however, is seen as a hero of sorts in the US intelligence community.

Michael Morell, the former CIA director under former President Barack Obama, announced the ex-Saudi official provided intelligence that helped stop a number of attacks against the US.

“I’m a big admirer. I found Dr. Saad to be extraordinarily bright. I found him to be incredibly loyal to his country,” Morell told Pelley, adding that he is “honorable”.

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