Helped the US Fight Al-Qaeda but a 'Traitor' to Saudi Arabia: Is This How Riyadh Treats Dissidents Post-Khashoggi?

Published July 19th, 2020 - 09:14 GMT
Helped the US Fight Al-Qaeda but a 'Traitor' to Saudi Arabia: Is This How Riyadh Treats Dissidents Post-Khashoggi?
Saad al-Jabri was America’s closest anti-terrorism contact in the Middle East following 9/11 terrorist attacks. (AlBawaba)

Last May, Human Rights Watch reported that the family of former Saudi Intelligence chief suffered police harassment in an attempt to pressure him to return to Saudi Arabia from Canada, where he has been living since 2017.

Saad al-Jabri who was, according to the Wall Street Journal, America’s closest antiterrorism contact in the Middle East following the 9/11 terrorist attacks is now at the center of Saudi media attacks labeled as a "corrupt traitor" and stands accused of being "a member of the Muslim Brotherhood group".

The US-based newspaper also reports that documents in al-Jabri's possession include ones that prove "Riyadh's involvement in financial support to the Sudanese ousted president Oman al-Bashir and several tribes in western Iraq".

Also, the paper reports an old friend of al-Jabri's tried to convince him of relocating to Turkey, "where he would be closer to his family".

The former Saudi Intelligence chief was amongst the closest confidants to the former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, who was ousted in the summer of 2017 by Mohammad bin Salman in what was then described as a "soft coup".

Mohammad bin Nayef, which MBS referred to him as uncle, has been arrested since last March and is expected to face corruption-related charges soon.

Over the last few months and following the arrest of the two of al-Jabri's children by the Saudi authorities, the western media reported that MBS fears that al-Jabri would leak official documents in his possession that are highly sensitive and damaging to him.

Yet, Saudi media outlets, supported with hundreds of social media accounts have used the WSJ's report to smear al-Jabri as "a traitor who has exploited Saudi Arabia and used millions of state money for his own personal benefit".

Additionally, al-Jabri has been accused of "being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood" which are deemed to be a terrorist organization in Saudi Arabia.

The media campaign against al-Jabri has been focused on calling on Canada to hand him over to Saudi Arabia "so he's brought to justice". This is perceived by many commentators as the "Saudi alternative approach with political dissidents following the Khashoggi incident". 

In October 2018, Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was allegedly killed and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul as he was trying to obtain official documents so he could remarry a Turkish citizen.

The brutal killing of Khashoggi triggered a strong international reaction at that time, especially as several members of the "hit squad" were said to be close to the Saudi Crown Prince whose political approach Khashoggi was critical of. 

Reacting to the Khashoggi murder, Saudi officials said a group of Saudi intelligence offices "were commissioned to bring him back to the country safely and not kill him".  This is why many social media users are drawing comparisons between situation of the two men, wondering if Saudi Arabia is now smearing dissidents in a new tactic to silence them.

Translation: "Wall Street Journal: an old friend of Saad al-Jabri tried to persuade him of traveling to Turkey. Do you think he is going to be cut up like Khashoggi? Or is he going to be stripped down like the princes of the Ritz Carlton?"

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