Ex-Saudi official says he was targeted by a hit team after fleeing to Canada

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A former official in the Saudi Arabian government said in a new interview that he was targeted by a hit team after fleeing to Canada following the 2017 takeover by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saad Aljabri, who served as the No. 2 intelligence official in Saudi Arabia, told Scott Pelley in an interview for “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday that he was targeted by a hit team in mid-October 2018, while living in Canada. 

Aljabri said a team of six people arrived at the Ottawa Airport, lied to customs about not knowing each other and had suspicious equipment with them for DNA analysis. The team, however, was deported, he said.

Canada acknowledged part of that story in a statement to “60 Minutes,” telling the program “we are aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to … threaten … those living in Canada. It is completely unacceptable.”

Aljabri said he received a warning from a friend in a Middle Eastern intelligence service prior to the attempted attack.

“And 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. I said why? Said, they dismembered the guy, they kill him. You are on the top of the list,” Aljabri told Pelley.

The crown prince faced a wave of international scrutiny following the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Crown Prince Mohammed approved the killing.

Aljabri became an alleged target of the crown prince after he fled Saudi Arabia for Canada following the ruler’s power grab in 2017.

Crown Prince Mohammed arrested Mohammed bin Nayef, the then-heir to the throne, in 2017. Aljabri served under Nayef, and fled to Canada following his boss’s arrest, where he now remains.

The former official called Crown Prince Mohammed a “psychopath” and a “killer.”

“I am here to sound the alarm about a psychopath, killer, in the Middle East with infinite resources, who poses [a] threat to his people, to the Americans and to the planet,” Aljabri said.

When pressed by Pelley on his decision to call the crown prince a “psychopath,” Aljabri said: “A psychopath with no empathy, doesn’t feel emotion, never learned from his experience. And we have witnessed atrocities and crimes committed by this killer.”

Aljabri said his family is now being penalized by the crown prince for his act of fleeing to Canada.

His son and daughter, both of whom were planning to attend American colleges, are now in Saudi prisons. 

Khalid Aljabri, his oldest son, told Pelley that Saad Aljabri’s son-in-law was also kidnapped in a third country and brought back to the kingdom, where he was detained and tortured “as a proxy for his father-in-law, meaning my dad.”

“They even asked him a question, who do you think we should arrest and torture so Dr. Saad can come back to the Kingdom?” he told Pelley.

Saad Aljabri said he believes the crown prince “fears my information,” and expects to be killed one day because of his animosity toward him.

“I expect to be killed one day because this guy will not rest off until he see me dead,” Aljabri said.

Aljabri, however, is seen as a hero of sorts in the U.S. intelligence community.

Michael Morell, the former CIA director under former President Obama, said the ex-Saudi official provided intelligence that helped stop a number of attacks against the U.S.

“I’m a big admirer. I found Dr. Saad to be extraordinarily bright. I found him to be incredibly loyal to his country,” Morell told Pelley, adding that he is “honorable.”

The former CIA chief said Aljabri “absolutely saved American lives,” in addition to many Saudi lives. He said there are “many” examples of times that Aljabri saved American lives, but most cases are still classified.

In a statement to “60 Minutes,” the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., called Aljabri a “discredited former government official with a long history of fabricating and creating distractions to hide the financial crimes he committed, which amount to billions of dollars, to furnish a lavish life-style for himself and his family.”

Pelley reported that Saudi entities are now suing Aljabri in the U.S. and Canada for allegedly stealing as much as $500 million from the counterterrorism budget.

Aljabri, however, denied those accusations, telling Pelley he attained his wealth by working in close proximity to royal families.

You know, I have served a royal monarchy in a close proximity for two decades. Three kings, four crown prince. They’ve been nice to me. They’ve been very generous. It’s a tradition in Saudi Arabia royal family. They take care of people around them,” he said.

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