A former senior Saudi intelligence official with close ties to western intelligence agencies has accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of plotting to kill him, claiming in a US lawsuit that one such attempt was thwarted by Canadian officials in 2018.
A lawsuit by Saad Aljabri against the Saudi crown prince and other Saudi officials, which was brought in a district court in Washington DC, claims that the Saudi state launched a campaign to target the former high-ranking official in Canada because he was viewed as a threat to Prince Mohammed’s relationship with the US and his eventual ascendancy to the throne.
The complaint includes several jaw-dropping and unverified details about the alleged plot to target Aljabri, including a claim that a team of Saudi assassins were sent to Canada to kidnap the former Saudi official just two weeks after the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Aljabri is a former intelligence official who has been praised by former colleagues in the US and UK for helping to keep westerners safe amid the threat of al-Qaida. The complaint includes references to two previous alleged plots – one against synagogues in Chicago and one involving a plan to blow up two cargo planes heading for the US – that were allegedly thwarted thanks to Aljabri’s assistance.
“That combination of deep knowledge and enduring trust by top US officials is why there is virtually no one defendant bin Salman wants dead more than Dr Saad,” the legal claim said.
It also claimed that Prince Mohammed sent “explicit death threats” to Aljabri and frequently used WhatsApp, the popular messaging app.
The complaint alleges that the assassins are part of a so-called Tiger Squad of the crown prince’s own personal mercenary group and attempted to covertly enter Canada on tourist visas on or around 15 October 2018 with the “intent of killing” Aljabri.
The men attempted to enter Canada through separate “kiosks”, the complaint alleges, but were stopped and questioned by Canadian authorities, who allegedly later found a photograph of the men together, proving that they knew one another.
The Canadian government said in a statement that it could not comment on the specific allegations but did not deny the claims.
“We are aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to monitor, intimidate or threaten Canadians and those living in Canada,” the government said.
It added: “It is completely unacceptable and we will never tolerate foreign actors threatening Canada’s national security or the safety of our citizens and residents. Canadians can be confident that our security agencies have the skills and resources necessary to detect, investigate and respond to such threats. We will always take the necessary action to keep Canadians and those on Canadian soil safe and we invite people to report any such threats to law enforcement authorities.”
A spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington did not immediately return a request for comment.
The new claims comes just weeks after the Guardian reported that another Saudi living in exile in Canada was warned this his life was possibly under threat by the Saudi regime. Omar Abdulaziz, a close confidante of Khashoggi, was warned by Canadian authorities that he was a “potential target” of Saudi and had to take precautions to protect himself.
Aljabri’s son, Khalid Aljabri, who is also living in exile in Canada with his family, did not return a request for comment from the Guardian. But in a tweet, Khalid Aljabri said his family had “no choice but to seek justice and accountability in a US federal court” after “exhausting every avenue for a peaceful remedy”.
The family has separately alleged that Saad Aljabri’s two adult children, Sarah and Omar, have been arrested and detained without charge in Saudi Arabia and have not been heard from since March. The Saudi embassy in Washington did not earlier respond to requests for comment on the allegation.
Aljabri’s lawsuit contained little evidence to support its charges and the claims could not be independently verified by Guardian.
While some media reports have alleged Prince Mohammed is seeking Aljabri’s return to the kingdom because of unspecified corruption allegations involving his work with the former interior minister, Mohammed bin Nayef, the family have steadfastly denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
In the US legal claim, Aljabri has claimed that he was “privy to sensitive information” about Prince Mohammed’s alleging “covert political scheming within the royal court, corrupt business dealings, and creation of personal mercenaries that defendant bin Salman would later use to carry out the extrajudicial killing of Jamal Khashoggi, among others”.