WASHINGTON (CN) — All that stood between Saad Aljabri and a team of Saudi Arabian assassins he says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman dispatched to kill him in October 2018 were suspicious Canadian border security agents.
Armed with forensic tools and complete with specialists in cleaning up crime scenes, the alleged hit squad was foiled after lying about knowing each other under questioning from Canadian officials.
Aljabri fears if the team had made it into Canada, he would have faced a fate similar to that of former Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, another target of bin Salman’s who had been murdered and dismembered with a bone saw in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul two weeks earlier.
In a 107-page complaint filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, D.C., Aljabri, a former Saudi government official with connections to U.S. intelligence and who pinned Khashoggi’s death on bin Salman, says he is the victim of an ongoing assassination attempt.
Aljabri claims bin Salman wants him dead because he has ties with U.S. intelligence agencies and knows secrets that could threaten the crown prince’s campaign to win influence with the United States.
“Few places hold more sensitive, humiliating and damning information about defendant bin Salman than the mind and memory of Dr. Saad — except perhaps the recordings Dr. Saad made in anticipation of his killing,” the complaint states.
After nearly 40 years in various positions, Aljabri was booted from the Saudi government in 2015 after meeting with then-U.S. Director of National Intelligence John Brennan. He fled Saudi Arabia in 2017, but bin Salman tried to convince him to return under the guise of reconciliation. To Aljabri, the requests were nothing more than an attempt to bring him back to a country where it would be easier to kill him.
“Defendant bin Salman’s attempts to bait Dr. Saad’s return soon turned into demands,” the complaint states. “Demands soon turned into threats. Threats turned into cold-blooded determination: defendant bin Salman promised to ‘use all available means’ and ‘take measures that would be harmful to you.’”
In addition to allegedly dispatching the team of assassins — members of the so-called Tiger Squad that is loyal to bin Salman — Aljabri said bin Salman sent agents to track down his whereabouts and “disappeared” two of his children, who are now being held in an undisclosed location.
Bin Salman first blocked Aljabri’s son and daughter, 21 and 20 respectively, from leaving Saudi Arabia to study in the United States, allegedly using their plight as leverage to get Aljabri to return to the country. After those attempts failed, a team of 50 armed men raided their home, taking the children into custody without a reason, according to the complaint.
Aljabri has not seen his children since they were taken and does not know if they are safe.
“Based on defendant bin Salman’s conduct to date, Dr. Saad has significant reason to fear for his children’s safety,” the complaint states.
Suing bin Salman, the crown prince’s personal foundation and a group of Saudi officials, Saad seeks compensatory, punitive damages and other relief.