A former Saudi Arabian spy had harsh words for the Saudi crown prince. Now living in exile in Canada, the ex-Saudi intelligence official called Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) a “psychopath” and a threat to the U.S.
Saad Aljabri (aka Saad bin Khalid Al Jabri) spoke in an Oct. 24 interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” about MBS’s order to assassinate U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A Saudi critic, Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018.
MBS drew significant backlash and global outrage after Turkish authorities leaked recordings from inside the consulate that revealed that MBS’s aides had Khashoggi killed. The Saudis claimed that an effort to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia went awry. MBS has denied any knowledge of the operation, despite a U.S. intelligence assessment to the contrary, the Los Angeles Times reported.
President Joe Biden has been called out for his decision to waive any punishment for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in the killing of Khashoggi, claiming that acting against the Saudi royal would have been diplomatically unprecedented for the U.S. Others said Biden acted out of fear of Iran. In May, Iran began holding rare talks with U.S. ally Saudi Arabia after years of strained relations between neighboring regional powers.
“We held accountable all the people in that organization — but not the crown prince, because we have never that I’m aware of, when we have an alliance with a country, gone to the acting head of state and punished that person and ostracized him,” Biden said in an ABC News interview, A.P. reported.
During the interview, Aljabri described watching a video recording of a meeting he alleged took place in 2014 between MBS and his cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef (MBN), who was then Saudi Arabia’s head of intelligence.
“[MBS] told him [MBN], ‘I want to assassinate King Abdullah. I got a poison ring from Russia. It’s enough for me just to shake hands with him and he will be done,’” Aljabri recalled. “That’s what he said. Whether he’s just bragging or … but he said that and we took it seriously.”
CBS said Saudi Arabia declined an interview. However, the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. issued a statement describing former spy Aljabri as a “discredited” former government official “with a long history of fabricating and creating distractions to hide the financial crimes he committed, which amount to billions of dollars, to furnish a lavish lifestyle for himself and his family.
A group of Saudi companies owned by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, which the prince controls, are suing Aljabri in the U.S. and Canada, claiming he stole money from the counterterrorism budget. Aljabri denied those claims in the interview.
Aljabri used the interview to warn MBS that he has recorded a video revealing even more Saudi royal secrets and some U.S. secrets The video, Aljabri said, could be released if he’s killed, the Los Angeles Times reported.
If he returns to Saudi Arabia, Aljabri, 62, faces imprisonment.
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