A Saudi dissident living in the US has claimed that the FBI saved him from suffering a similar fate to that of Jamal Khashoggi. Twenty-seven-year-old Abdulrahman Almutairi, a former student at the University of San Diego, spoke of his ordeal with the Daily Beast.
Almutairi, a YouTuber with hundreds of thousands of followers, attracted the attention of the Saudis after he criticised Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman over the October 2018 murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi. “The Saudi government realized I was a threat,” Almutairi told The Daily Beast.
According to Almutairi an unidentified Saudi man accompanied his father on a flight to collect him against his will and bring him back to Saudi Arabia. The FBI foiled the plot and it was only due to their timely intervention that Almutairi was rescued.
“If I go back to Saudi Arabia,” Almutairi said, “I’ll be killed in the airport.”
While it’s hard to corroborate Almutairi’s claim at this stage, the grisly reality of Riyadh’s brutal drive to crush dissent is well known. The crown prince in particular is notorious for the way he treats critics. A UN investigation concluded that the future king of Saudi Arabia ordered Khashoggi’s killing. The CIA has also reached a similar conclusion.
Many others have been victims of the kingdom’s growing network of spies authorised to silence critics. Last year, the CIA warned a Palestinian activist living under asylum in Norway of a potential threat against him from Saudi Arabia.
Critics are not the only ones to be targeted by the kingdom. As the alleged hacking of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shows, anyone deemed a threat to the kingdom’s interest are at risk. Similarly Saudi dissidents living in the UK revealed details of the risk they face on a daily basis. Spyware developed in Israel is used to track them down.