The administration of US President Joe Biden, which is concerned about the possible disclosure of sensitive counter-terrorism operations, is considering intervening in a lawsuit filed by a former Saudi spy against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
The events taking place inside the courtroom are the latest chapter in a raging dispute between Bin Salman and former intelligence official Saad Al-Jabri, a long-time advisor to deposed Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia, Bin Salman’s main rival until he was removed from power in 2017.
This is a grim story mixed with echoes of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, columnist for The Washington Post, by a Saudi assassination team in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Al-Jabri alleged in the lawsuit he filed that Crown Prince Bin Salman sent the Tiger Squad, responsible for foreign operations, shortly after the assassination of Khashoggi, to kidnap or kill him at his home in Canada.
He also indicated that the Saudi authorities are holding his sons hostage in the kingdom to force him to return home. Bin Salman’s lawyers have denied the allegations.
The US administration wants to reach a settlement between the two parties to free Al-Jabri’s children and solve the litigation crisis. So far, however, no progress has been made in resolving the legal conflict.
A lawyer representing the crown prince and other Saudi government interests has refused to comment on the lawsuit.
The dilemma facing Biden constitutes a classic test of law and national security in the US. Al-Jabri’s lawyers filed a civil lawsuit alleging that, in 2008, their client helped in the establishment of a network of front companies (companies used to protect the parent company from legal liability), with the primary aim of implementing covert and classified national security programmes with the US government.
However, the management boards of the kingdom-owned shell companies have claimed in several lawsuits that Al-Jabri and Bin Nayef had misappropriated no less than $3.4 billion from the operations’ revenues.
In this regard, one lawsuit filed in Canada stated that “this was just an outright robbery,” as a Canadian judge decided to temporarily freeze the assets owned by Al-Jabri.