The Telegraph . August 6, 2020, 11:24 PM
A former senior Saudi intelligence official has claimed that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sent a hit squad to Canada in an attempt to kill him.
In a 107-page complaint, filed in a Washington DC court, Saad Aljabri claimed the assassins were intercepted by Canadian authorities. The incident was alleged to have happened less than two weeks after Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident, was killed in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Mr Aljabri, who was living in self-imposed exile in Toronto, was said to have clashed with the crown prince over issues including the decision to go to war in Yemen, and was dismissed from his cabinet role in 2015.
He is suing the crown prince and 24 others for an unset amount of damages
In his complaint Mr Aljabri claimed the crown prince “dispatched a hit squad” to Canada in October 2018. The complaint said: “(A) team of Saudi nationals travelled across the Atlantic Ocean from Saudi Arabia … with the intention of killing Dr Saad.”
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi caused outrage across the world – GETTY IMAGES
The “hit squad” was said to have been comprised of members of a group close to the crown prince called the Tiger Squad.
It was alleged they carried two bags of forensic tools, and included someone who knew how to clean up crime scenes.
The men “attempted to enter Canada covertly, travelling on tourist visas” and pretending not to know each other.
Suspicious border agents found a photograph showing several of the men together, “revealing their lie and thwarting their mission”, it was alleged.
Mr Aljabri’s family has previously accused the crown prince of detaining two of his adult children and his brother in an attempt to force his return to Saudi Arabia.
Mr Aljabri is believed to have played a key role in fostering security cooperation between Saudi Arabia and western powers. He described himself as a long-time ally of US intelligence services.
He said he was suing in the US because the alleged plot against him “involved substantial conduct inside the United States”. Saudi Arabia’s government media office did not immediately comment, nor did the Saudi embassy in Canada.
Mr Khashoggi was kidnapped, killed and dismembered by Saudi agents after visiting the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork.
The crown prince faced widespread international criticism over the journalist’s killing.
He vehemently denied ordering the assassination, saying it was carried out by rogue agents without his knowledge, but that he ultimately bore “full responsibility” as Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader. Last year Mr Khashoggi’s fiancée told The Telegraph she believed the crown prince’s accepting “responsibility” was an attempt to make the world look away from the killing.
Canada’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been poor since August 2018, when Ottawa criticised Riyadh over human rights.
Bill Blair, Canada’s public safety minister, said he could not comment on allegations before the courts.
In a statement he added: “We are aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to monitor, intimidate or threaten Canadians and those living in Canada. It is completely unacceptable.”