Two weeks after Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination, the Saudi crown prince reportedly sent a death squad to Canada, targeting a former Saudi intelligence official, according to a new trial.
A team of 50 armed men, dressed in civilian clothes and driving unmarked cars, arrived early in the morning on March 16 at the home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where Omar and Sarah Aljabri lived.
They were looking for the two siblings, now 22 and 20, respectively. The men “woke up [Omar and Sarah] from their beds in the wee hours of the morning and “disappeared” them, according to a lawsuit.
“It is now almost five months after their disappearance and there is not a single sign,” their brother Khalid Aljabri told BuzzFeed News in a telephone interview Friday from Canada. “You really come to the fundamental question at this point: are they alive or dead?”
The father of the siblings, Saad Aljabri, filed a trial in Washington federal court on Thursday against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and other senior Saudi officials, alleging the powerful royal is trying to kill him because of his knowledge of the Saudi regime. Other family members were kidnapped and tortured to take advantage of Aljabri’s return to the country, the lawsuit says, including his brother and nephew.
Saad Aljabri, a former official ousted from the Saudi government in September 2015, has not seen them since, and the pain is affecting his health. “Dr. Saad was and remains tormented by what is happening to his young son and daughter,” the lawsuit read.
Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Saad Aljabri had worked in the Saudi government since 1976 and was a longtime advisor to the crown prince’s predecessor, Mohammad bin Nayef, until his ouster in June 2017, when MBS took on the role. Aljabri served as King Salman’s minister of state and was an integral part of the country’s counterterrorism intelligence.
In July 2015, Aljabri met with former CIA Director John Brennan and reportedly told him that Crown Prince Mohammed was encouraging Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. The crown prince dismissed Aljabri from his post in September.
Decades of experience in the Saudi government have made Aljabri familiar with the crown prince’s “secret political intrigues”, “corrupt business transactions” and the formation of the coup. team that killed Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, declares the legal complaint. (Western intelligence agencies stated that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s death, but the crown prince insisted he had no knowledge).
“Few places contain more sensitive, humiliating and damning information about [the crown prince] only the mind and memory of Dr Saad – except perhaps the tapes Dr Saad made in anticipation of his assassination, “the trial says.
Saad Aljabri alleges that in 2018, just two weeks after Khashoggi’s death, MBS sent a hit squad, or “tiger squad”, to Canada, where he was living in exile, to kill him. But they were prevented from entering the country by Canadian border officials.
This was not the first time the Crown Prince had targeted his children; On June 21, 2017, the first day of Mohammed bin Salman’s appointment, he enacted a travel ban that prevented Sarah and Omar (then 17 and 18) from flying from Saudi Arabia to Boston. Border security arrested the siblings. The crown prince has ignored Aljabri’s WhatsApp messages in which he pleaded to let his children go, the lawsuit says.
“That’s how we found out: a FaceTime call from Sarah at the airport, crying,” Khalid recalls. “She’s a 17-year-old girl who was elated when she got her student visa, anxious to live in Boston, and then airport security officers tell them, ‘You can’t travel.’ She was crying, she couldn’t understand.
According to #SaveJabris Website, created to announce their disappearance, Sarah is a student in architectural engineering who was kidnapped a few days after her 20th birthday. Omar is a 22-year-old computer science student at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, who has regularly helped organize events at the school.
Sarah and Omar had been accepted and were paying tuition for the International Baccalaureate program at British International School and Suffolk University, respectively, both in Boston, according to the complaint, and the two schools had contacted U.S. authorities in the immigration regarding their absences.
Three months later, in September, Saad Aljabri asked the crown prince to let his children go. The crown prince reportedly replied that if he did not return to the Saudi kingdom, he would be targeted and killed.
We still don’t know where Omar and Sarah are. A tracker on the #SaveJabris the site notes that it has been more than 140 days since the alleged kidnapping.
“At the center of this story are a few innocent people, like lovers – they have nothing to do with political intrigue or state secrets or whatever the Saudis are trying to make it look,” Khalid said. . “They are two children. Sarah should be back in my mom’s arms and Omar should be back with my dad, teasing and arguing with him.