Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered a hit squad to seek out and kill one of his former top intelligence officials in Canada just 13 days after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US lawsuit has claimed. The bombshell allegation was made on Wednesday in the suit filed in the US District Court, Washington DC, by Saad Al-Jabri. The 62-year-old has claimed that Bin Salman made several attempts to assassinate him after he fled the Kingdom due to concerns about his safety.
In a case that has striking parallels with the murder of Khashoggi nearly two years ago in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Bin Salman is said to have personally orchestrated the attempted extrajudicial killing of Al-Jabri “to fulfil his murderous desire”. The notorious “Tiger Squad” which killed Khashoggi was also directed by the prince to assassinate Al-Jabri, according to the document.
It is alleged that Bin Salman initially took steps to lure Al-Jabri back to Saudi Arabia or to another jurisdiction where he could be killed more easily without consequences. When he fled the Kingdom, the de facto head of state sent threatening messages on WhatsApp, demanding that he return to Saudi Arabia within 24 hours.
Attempts to lure the former intelligence official back included the use of his family as “human bait”. Shortly after the prince threatened to send a private airplane to render Al-Jabri back to Saudi Arabia while also directing the arrest, detention and kidnapping of the dissident’s family members, all in an effort to lure him out of hiding so that, it is claimed, he could be killed.
When these efforts failed, a hit squad was sent to North America to assassinate him. The lawsuit alleges that the assassins tried to enter Canada, where Al-Jabri lives in exile, using tourist visas. Their plan to avoid detection by Canadian border security officials failed. The so-called Tiger Squad aroused suspicion and upon further investigation its members were found to have lied about why they were entering Canada.
Nevertheless, Bin Salman apparently remains determined to “once and for all… eliminate” Al-Jabri, the lawsuit alleges. Al-Jabri continues to believe that his life is in danger and fears that the prince will send assassins into Canada by road from the US to “complete the job”.
Al-Jabri became a marked man because of his close ties with the US intelligence community and his “intimate” knowledge of Mohammad Bin Salman’s activities. He is said to have the potential to be able to undermine the Crown Prince’s influence and support in the Trump White House.
“That combination of deep knowledge and enduring trust by top US officials is why there is virtually no one defendant [who] Bin Salman wants dead more than Dr Saad,” says the lawsuit. It’s thought that Al-Jabri played a pivotal role in the CIA’s conclusion that the Crown Prince had authorised the killing of Khashoggi.
The lawsuit was filed over a week after the New York Times broke a story detailing the plot to lure Al-Jabri back to Saudi Arabia using his family as bait. Bin Salman also tempted Al-Jabri with a new job. When that failed, he sought unsuccessfully to have him extradited on corruption charges through Interpol. That too failed, but led to the arrest of Al-Jabri’s two children in Riyadh.
Al-Jabri fell out of favour in 2017, following the soft-coup which saw Bin Salman replace Mohammed Bin Nayef as Crown Prince. The intelligence official left the Kingdom and settled in Turkey before moving to Canada, while the prince moved against domestic allies of Nayef, who by then had been placed under house arrest.
The fate of Saad Al-Jabri’s children has drawn the attention of four US senators. Last month they wrote a letter to President Donald Trump to express their concern for the “enforced disappearance” of the two children whose father they described as a “close ally and friend”.