An attempt at a diplomatic solution to a Saudi problem has shifted into the public eye after months of quiet turmoil. The first signal was a lawsuit filed by former Saudi intelligence official Saad Aljabri, now living in exile in the Canada, alleging that the Saudi Crown Prince has been conducting a state effort to have him killed. A second public event occurred yesterday, when one of Aljabri’s children made a plea on Twitter to the Saudi Ambassador to the United States:
The lawsuit contends that Mohammad bin Salman has “sent explicit and implicit death threats to Dr. Saad; sought to lure Dr. Saad to jurisdictions in which he could be killed; repeatedly deployed covert agents in the United States as part of a mandate to hunt down Dr. Saad; filed false claims with intergovernmental organizations Case 1:20-cv-02146-TJK Document 1 Filed 08/06/20 Page 4 of 107 5 of which the United States is a member to limit Dr. Saad’s ability to travel; seized two of Dr. Saad’s children to lure him back to Saudi Arabia; and ultimately dispatched a hit squad across the Atlantic Ocean in a direct attempt to kill Dr. Saad. ” Saad has evidence to back his claims, including saved text messages where MBS personally suggests that he’d be happy to clear up the misunderstanding regarding Saad’s children but that any such efforts would need to be done in person (a tactic which led to the vivisection of journalist Jamal Khashoggi) and records of members of the same group who assassinated Khashoggi attempting to enter Canada while carrying equipment to facilitate torture, murder and body removal.
Dr. Saad is not an American citizen, and is living in exile in Canada following bin Salman’s 2017 purge of officials who were not sufficiently loyal. Saad had been the top staffer to Mohammed bin Nayef, a Saudi royal whose authority was stripped during the purge. Saad has been a firm ally of US intelligence and diplomatic services for years both before and after his exile, and the current state of US relations with Saudi Arabia (as opposed to the fairly poor relations between Canada and Saudi) and the existence of US laws allowing such civil lawsuits were the likely drivers for the suit being filed in American courts. Saad was among a handful of key figures responsible for identifying the Saudis planning terrorist attacks in the United States after 9/11.
Republican and Democrat Senators alike – including strong Trump supporter Marco Rubio – have called for intervention by the Trump administration on Saad’s behalf. The letter in the linked tweet was sent on July 9th. In response, the State Department has sent a letter to Democrat Senator Pat Leahy assuring him that they view Saad as an ally and that they have asked about the status of his children; that letter was sent on the day after Saad’s lawsuit was filed, almost a week ago.
There has been no public acknowledgement of the situation from President Trump.