Those who oppose the Saudi crown prince still take many risks

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The Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has come out less in recent months than the world has been accustomed to from the man who has proven not to shy away from the means to eliminate critical opponents. That’s not to say that MbS has gotten milder. Anyone who opposes him still takes great risks.

61-year-old Saad al-Jabri also experienced this, who brought a lawsuit against the crown prince in Washington last week, because he allegedly tried to murder him in various ways in recent years. Al-Jabri is a former high-ranking Saudi intelligence officer who was fired in 2015, possibly because he had informed the US CIA that MbS was inciting Russians to intervene in Syria.

Also read: Crown Prince MbS can continue with impunity

Jabri, who now lives in Toronto, was a confidant of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the former Crown Prince who was removed from office by MbS in a palace coup in 2017 and replaced by him himself. From then on, MbS became the de facto ruler of the country, as his elderly father left much of the government to him. Mohammed bin Nayef, widely regarded as the man who skilfully neutralized the danger posed by al-Qaeda and other radical organizations in Saudi Arabia, has been largely under house arrest since 2017.

When filing the lawsuit, ‘Dr. Saad ‘, as Al-Jabri is referred to in the documents, adds a file with remarkable details. For example, by MbS’s order in 2018, less than two weeks after the murder of the critical journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a ‘Tiger brigade’ was sent from Riad to Canada to eliminate Al-Jabri. .

As with the murder of Khashoggi, this team would also have included someone who specialized in cleaning up traces of a crime, a colleague of the man who attacked Khashoggi’s body with a bone saw after his death.

The Tiger Brigade

The ‘Tiger Brigade’, Firqat el-nemr in Arabic, according to various sources, is an elite unit of fifty military and intelligence people that was created in 2017 to do dirty jobs for MbS. However, their mission in Canada failed. Canadian customs intercepted the team at the airport, although the members tried to get through passport control separately.

How the Canadians, who already had a tense relationship with Saudi Arabia, resolved this affair is not clear. Canadian Minister of Public Security Bill Blair declined to comment on the case on Thursday, but acknowledged in a statement that he was “aware of incidents in which foreigners have attempted to track, intimidate or threaten Canadians living in Canada” .

As early as 2017, MbS had threatened Al-Jabri via Whatsapp and ordered him to return to Saudi Arabia. Al-Jabri, who understood that with his detailed knowledge of MbS’s working methods and his contact in the international intelligence world, he did not respond. But the crown prince did not stop there. Two of Al-Jabri’s children were banned from leaving Saudi Arabia. In March of this year, both were arrested and then ‘disappeared’, according to the file.

The Saudi Anti-Corruption Committee also tried to get him extradited through Interpol, but the international police organization turned down that request in July 2018. Interpol had according to Washington Postcolumnist David Ignatius, who was given access to Interpol documents, expressed three concerns to the committee: “the selectivity of his subjects, the political nature of his motives, and the lack of fair trial and human rights safeguards in his proceedings”. Interpol suspected a political strategy behind the request to take out a potential rival.

In June this year, it was announced that another Saudi in Canada, noted dissident Omar Abdulaziz, had been warned by Canadian police that he was “a potential target” of the Saudis. Abdulaziz was closely associated with Khashoggi. “They want to do something, but I don’t know if it’s murder, kidnapping,” he told The Guardian.

Torture and oppression

At home, there is also no indication that MbS is letting go of the reins for its critics. Human rights organizations called for an independent investigation into the death of journalist Saleh Al-Shehi on July 19. He had been imprisoned for 2.5 years and released on medical grounds shortly before his death. Al-Shehi had dared to speak about corruption within the royal family on a television program in late 2017.

Political prisoners in Saudi prisons also die regularly, whether or not after torture. Women’s rights activists who were arrested more than two years ago for campaigning for the right to drive, among other things, are still in prison. This is despite the fact that MbS itself has long since granted this right. However, these women have not been spared torture either, according to testimonials from relatives abroad.

The relentless doggedness with which MbS continues to persecute its critics is surprising. The Crown Prince does not seem aware how much this is hurting him and his country’s reputation. Just now that his country is in dire straits economically, both due to low oil prices and the corona virus, he could very well use more international goodwill. That he will appear in the dock in Washington is now completely unlikely.

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