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Monday, December 6, 2021

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a ‘psychopath’ and a ‘killer’, says former spy

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a “psychopath” and a “killer” and the world should be wary of him, according to a former top Saudi spy. 

Saad Aljabri also claimed the leader, known as MBS, threatened to assassinate the late King Abdullah with a “poison ring from Russia” to make way for his father’s rise to the throne. 

“I am here to sound the alarm about a psychopath, killer, in the Middle East with infinite resources, who poses threat to his people, to the Americans and to the planet,” Mr Aljabri said in an interview with US broadcaster CBS News’ “60 Minutes”. 

He claimed that in a 2014 meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was head of intelligence as interior minister at the time, the much younger Prince Mohammed said: “I want to assassinate King Abdullah. I get a poison ring from Russia. It’s enough for me just to shake hand(s) with him and he will be done.”

Mr Aljabri, formerly a top spy and interlocutor between the kingdom’s intelligence services and Western governments, said the Saudi intelligence took the threat seriously and the issue was handled within the royal family. 

A video recording of that meeting still exists, he added.

King Abdullah died in 2015 age 90 after suffering from a lung infection. 

Mr Aljabri also alleged that the crown prince dispatched a feared team of mercenaries to kill him in Canada after he fled the country following MBS’s 2017 power grab.

A friend at a Middle Eastern intelligence service, he said, warned that he could face a fate similar to that of Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who investigations have alleged was murdered by a Riyadh-linked death squad after visiting the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

“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… You are on the top of the list,” Mr Aljabri told “60 minutes”.

He said the team arrived in Canada in October 2018 – only to be deported when they lied to customs officials and were found to be carrying suspicious items.

AFP was unable to independently verify Mr Aljabri’s claims, and requests for comment to the Canadian foreign ministry went unanswered.

But Canadian officials told “60 Minutes” they were “aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to… threaten… those living in Canada,” describing the threats as “completely unacceptable.”

Mr Aljabri said the group was made up of members of a group named in investigations as the “Tiger Squad” – a shadow team of paid killers set up by Crown Prince Mohammed specialising in “extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture,” according to a 2019 legal complaint filed by the former spy.

He said the group was part of a pattern of despotic behaviour by the crown prince, who was once hailed as a reformer but has ruthlessly purged opponents since becoming the heir-apparent.

Mr Aljabri also said two of his eight children had been detained by Saudi authorities in retaliation for his fleeing the kingdom.

The Saudi government told CBS News that Mr Aljabri is “a discredited former government official with a long history of fabricating and creating distractions to hide the financial crimes he committed.” 

The government has issued extradition requests and Interpol notices for him, alleging he is wanted for corruption. Mr Aljabri claims his wealth comes from the generosity of the kings he’s served.

While it is not the first time Aljabri has tried to exert pressure on the crown prince, it is his first on-record interview since his son Omar Aljabri, 23, and daughter Sarah Aljabri, 21, were detained in March 2020 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he believes in retaliation for his fleeing the kingdom. 

A son-in-law was allegedly kidnapped from a third country, forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia, tortured and detained.

Aljabri used the interview to warn Crown Prince Mohammed that he has recorded a video that reveals even more royal secrets and some of the United States. A short, silent clip was shown to “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley. The video, Aljabri said, could be released if he’s killed.

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