Aljabri accuses the Kingdom’s powerful crown prince and defacto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, of dispatching the hit team to murder him just over a year after Aljabri fled from Saudi Arabia and he refused repeated efforts by the Crown Prince to lure him back home or somewhere more accessible to the Saudis. Aljabri also names numerous alleged co-conspirators, including two of the men accused of being behind the Khashoggi operation.
MBS, according to previously unreported WhatsApp text messages referenced in the complaint, demanded that Aljabri immediately return to Saudi Arabia. As he repeatedly refused, Aljabri alleges the Crown Prince escalated his threats, saying they would use “all available means” and threatened to “take measures that would be harmful to you.” The Crown Prince also barred Aljabri’s children from leaving the country.
The Saudi government in Riyadh, the embassy in Washington and the Crown Prince’s no-profit foundation did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The US national security community has been tracking the Crown Prince’s vendetta against Aljabri “at the highest levels” according to a former senior US official. “Everybody knows it,” the former official said, “They know bin Salman wanted to lure Aljabri back to Saudi Arabia and failing that, that bin Salman would seek to find him outside with the intent to do him grave harm.”
Nine months before Aljabri says the Saudi team landed in Canada to kill him, his son Khalid was warned by FBI agents about threats on Aljabri and his family’s lives, according to the complaint. Khalid had arrived in Boston, and at Logan Airport, he was escorted to a meeting with two FBI agents, the complaint says, where he was purportedly told about bin Salman’s “campaign to hunt Dr. Saad and his family in the United States, and urged them to exercise caution.”
An adviser to Aljabri says the details on the Saudis who flew to Canada — but were turned around at the airport — came from western intelligence sources and private investigators.
Both the CIA and the FBI declined to comment. Officials on Capitol Hill who are aware of Aljabri’s new allegations could not corroborate the intelligence behind them.
In a royal court, where proximity to the US is paramount, MBS’s chief rival for the crown had been his older cousin Mohammed bin Nayef, similarly known as MBN. He and Aljabri, his longtime number two, had fostered close relationships with US intelligence officials over years of work together fighting terrorism, particularly against al Qaeda after 9/11. Aljabri’s commitment and depth of knowledge had impressed US intelligence offers and helped save countless lives, former officials say.
In 2017, MBN was deposed and MBS was made the heir apparent to the throne of his father, King Salman. MBN was placed under house arrest and earlier this year was detained. Sensing trouble for those close to MBN, his right-hand man, Aljabri, who had already been removed from his post, fled to Turkey in mid-2017, leaving behind two of his children, Sarah and Omar.
Aljabri’s extensive knowledge would have been more beneficial to the Crown Prince than his death, argues Douglas London, a former Senior CIA Operations Officer who served extensively in the Middle East and retired in 2019. The goal of the Saudi team supposedly sent to Canada, he says, may have been to put Aljabri under observation to be able to render him back to Saudi Arabia, or kill him later.
“MBS is eager to neutralize the threat posed by Aljabri, whose intimate knowledge of the ruling family’s skeletons, and everyone else’s, and broad network, equipped him to enable any aspiring challenger to the crown,” London says. “I don’t rule out the possibility that MBS wanted to kill Aljabri, but it’s just as likely, if not more so, that were there a team deployed to Canada, MBS wanted to put Aljabri under observation, information from which might provide insight on his contacts and activities.”
MBS critic in Congress says allegations are ‘credible’
The allegations of the assassination squad are “credible,” says fervent MBS critic Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat from New Jersey and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“When somebody who we already know is responsible for the kidnapping, rendition, murder and torture of other people in this category sends you a text message warning that bad things will happen to you, it’s fair to assume that he means business,” Malinowski said.
The teenage children Aljabri left in the Kingdom were immediately barred from traveling, their father says, who pleaded with bin Salman to allow them to leave. The Crown Prince responded to the begging, Aljabri says, with WhatsApp messages saying “When I see you I will explain everything to you” and “I want you to come back tomorrow.”
A Saudi warrant was issued and a notice was filed with Interpol to limit his movements, Aljabri says, also accusing MBS of pressuring Turkey to extradite him.
In mid-March of this year, according to Aljabri, now-22 year-old Omar and 20-year-old Sarah were abducted from their home and haven’t been heard from since. The same month that the children had their travel permissions blocked, a relative of Aljabri’s was snatched off the streets of Dubai, taken back to Saudi Arabai and tortured, Aljabri says. The relative says he was told explicitly, according to the complaint, that he was being punished as a proxy for Aljabri.
Last month, a group of senators — including the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Marco Rubio — wrote to Trump calling on him to raise the issue of the Aljabri children with the Saudis, noting Aljabri’s ties to US intelligence and saying: “the Saudi government is believed to be using the children as leverage to try to force their father’s return to the kingdom from Canada.”
The brutal murder and dismemberment of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul put a spotlight on the Crown Prince’s global campaign to violently stifle critics wherever they may be. Despite the US intelligence community assessing with high confidence that the execution was ordered by bin Salman, the failure by the Trump administration to condemn him has highlighted the impunity with which MBS operates. The Crown Prince denies any involvement in the operation while five members of the hit squad were sentenced to death by a Saudi court.
The assassins who killed Khashoggi were part of the Crown Prince’s so-called “Tiger Squad,” Aljabri says in his complaint, asserting that other members of the same team came after him. He claims the unit was born out of his own refusal to send counterterrorism forces under his command at the Interior Ministry to forcibly render a Saudi an insolent prince from Europe.
The Tiger Squad was formed, Aljabri says in the complaint, as a 50-strong “private death squad … with one unifying mission: loyalty to the personal whims of Defendant bin Salman.”
Aljabri alleges Saudi team arrived in Canada with ‘forensic tools’
Aljabri’s complaint says that around two weeks after Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018, 15 Saudi nationals arrived at Ottawa International Airport (the filing originally said Ontario but it has been corrected and is being resubmitted) with tourist visas to allegedly carry out the murder of Aljabri. Among them, he alleges, were multiple forensics specialists carrying “two bags of forensic tools” in their luggage.
According to the complaint, the team split up as they approached the customs kiosks but raised Canadian officials’ suspicions who allegedly found photographic evidence showing some of the members together. After a lawyer from the Saudi embassy was called, the brief says, the members of the team agreed to be deported back to Saudi Arabia. One continued into Canada on a diplomatic passport, Aljabri’s filing says.
The mission, Aljabri says, was supervised back in Saudi Arabia by Saud al-Qahtani who was sanctioned by the Treasury Department for planning and executing the killing of Khashoggi. A second official named by Aljabri as an orchestrator, Ahmed al-Assiri, was also part of the Crown Prince’s inner circle and relieved of his duties after Khashoggi was murdered. Neither was given a stiffer punishment.
A Canadian cabinet minister declined to comment on the specific allegations made by Aljabri citing the legal proceedings, but said they are aware of foreign nationals having tried to monitor and threaten people in Canada.
“It is completely unacceptable and we will never tolerate foreign actors threatening Canada’s national security or the safety of our citizens and residents,” said Bill Blair, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
With the complaint, Aljabri is asking for a trial and seeking damages under the Torture Victim Protection Act and Alien Tort Statute. While the plot is said to have been attempted in Canada, a spokesman for Aljabri said the complaint is being filed in Washington because the suit alleges wrongdoing in the US.
Aljabri says the assassination attempt followed a campaign in both the US and Canada to hunt him down. He accuses MBS of using his non-profit foundation — MiSK — and the man who leads it, Bader Alasaker, of organizing agents in the US to find Aljabri.
One of them, Bijad Alharbi, a former close associate of Aljabri’s, was successful in tracking Aljabri down in Toronto after speaking with his son in Boston, according to the complaint.
Though the attempt by the assassination team to enter Canada to kill him failed, Aljabri says, he believes the mission continues. He claims MBS has now secured a fatwa — a religious ruling — that allows him to kill Aljabri. Aljabri also accuses the Crown Prince of making other attempts to get to Aljabri in Canada, including sending agents across the border with the US by land.
This story has been updated to add comment from the Canadian government and reflect a corrected court filing from Aljabri’s legal team.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.
Romney faces another crossroads on Trump’s Supreme Court push
Romney’s short Senate career has been punctuated by big moments of distancing himself from the president: marching in a Black Lives Matter protest and penning an op-ed before he even took his Senate seat vowing to push back against Trump when needed. He also occasionally criticizes Trump’s rhetoric, but he’s careful not to get dragged into a back and forth with the president on Twitter or elsewhere.
Yet the party’s 2012 presidential nominee has also largely backed Trump’s appointments and much of his agenda. His voting record is a regular reminder that he’s still a conservative, which his GOP colleagues hope is a sign that he will divorce his differences with Trump from the monumental opportunity the conservative movement sees before it.
“I really don’t know what he’ll do,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). “I think he’s probably wrestling with it just like he has on other issues.”
Romney’s opinion may not be decisive: He’d need one other Republican senator to join him and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Collins in opposition to derail McConnell’s hopes of a swift confirmation. For now, that would take a surprise defection after vulnerable Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) backed McConnell’s strategy.
But should Romney be the only other Republican to join the Senate GOP’s moderate bloc, it would invite the explosive scenario of Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 vote on the Senate floor for a Supreme Court nominee, perhaps just days before Election Day.
Romney’s decision may do a lot to illustrate what kind of senator he will be as he finishes his first two years in the chamber. Romney has little of the baggage of his colleagues over past Supreme Court fights or battles over precedent. At a 2018 debate, Romney said Senate Republicans’ blockade of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, set no new standard and did not say how he would handle an election-year confirmation under Trump.
Conservative advocacy groups are keeping a close eye on Romney. The Judicial Crisis Network announced Monday that it was pouring $2.2 million into ads boosting the effort to fill the seat. The targeted states are home to vulnerable GOP incumbents, except one: Romney’s Utah.
But Romney is insulated from immediate political ramifications. His term isn’t up until 2024, and that gives Romney significant freedom to make his own way.
With the filibuster gutted on all nominations after recent rules changes by both parties, Senate Democrats are powerless to stop Trump’s appointment on their own. But many enjoy good relationships with Romney and are counting on him to take yet another stand against Trump.
“He’s shown extraordinary courage before,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). “I hope he does again.”
A Former Government Minister Is Leading Calls By Tory MPs For Boris Johnson Not To Put The Country Back Into Lockdown
5 min read
The former minister Simon Clarke is leading calls by Tory MPs for the country not to be put back into a full lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
The Middlesborough MP made a “plea for proportionality” to Matt Hancock in his first contribution to the Commons since standing down as a local government minister earlier this month.
Speaking to PoliticsHome he said: “I’ve seen constituents commit suicide during the first lockdown. When you get those emails it’s quite sobering about the human cost about what it is that we’re demanding of people.
“And it made me reflect that we should lever do so lightly, and that frankly if there are intervening measures before we get to those – then I would strongly hope we would exhaust all of them.”
Speaking ahead of a statement by Boris Johnson on Tuesday, where he is expected to introduce tighter restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Mr Clarke warned: “there are very, very significant economic tradeoffs” to such measures.
He is calling for a “graduated tradeoff” of freedom “rather than fire off all our artillery now”, adding it will be “a very long winter if we moved into lockdown now”.
Although he is in favour of local lockdowns he added: “But I just think a suite of national measures which set the economy even further back, and really do impose massive restrictions on people’s quality of life, are to be avoided as such time as they are totally unavoidable.”
Mr Clarke urged his former colleagues to “maintain fundamental liberty for people at this stage of autumn” after suggestions it may take six months to tackle the virus.
With the ‘rule of six’ only recently introduced he called for “other rules kick in before preventing households to mix”, saying “things which cut across basic human freedoms and basic human needs are to be avoided until they are an absolute last-ditch option”.
A growing number of Tory MPs have also expressed concern over what they see as a growing lack of parliamentary scrutiny over Coronavirus legislation.
Peter Bone MP told PoliticsHome: “I think there’s a growing number of MPs who think you shouldn’t be making these significant regulations without parliamentary approval.”
He said the powers were handed over via emergency legislation but it was when there wasn’t “a functioning Parliament”, at the time, and MPs should not get a chicane to defat, amend and vote on them.
As an example he said the “rule of six” would likely have still been passed, but perhaps amended not to include children or a month-long sunset clause.
Asked whether Number 10 had been ignoring its own MPs, Mr Bone said: “Well I think they get used to it, they got used to in an emergency just doing it ,and they’ve continued. There is a drift within government to a more presidential type of government.
Clarke’s call to avoid lockdown was backed up in the Commons by the ex-transport secretary Chris Grayling, who said he did not believe there is a case for a new national lockdown.
He told the Commons: “Given the huge consequences of this virus for people in our communities on their mental health, particularly the younger generation who are paying a very heavy price, can I say to him that given those regional variations – and in the full knowledge of all the pressures that he is facing – I do not believe the case for further national measures has yet been made.”
Mr Hancock replied: “He’s absolutely right that there are some parts of the country where the number of cases is still thankfully very low and so the balance between what we do nationally and what we do locally is as important as the balance in terms of what we do overall.”
Another former minister – Sir Edward Leigh – said public consent for lockdowns is “draining away”.
Addressing the House of Commons, he said: “The trouble with authoritarianism is that’s profoundly inimical to civil liberties, it is also increasingly incompetent, it relies on acquiescence and acquiescence for lockdowns, particularly national ones, is draining away.
“If you tell a student not to go to a pub, they will congregate in rooms, even worse.”
Mr Hancock said in his reply: “As a Conservative, I believe in as much freedom as possible consistent with not harming others.”
But fellow Tory MP Pauline Latham called for more Parliamentary scrutiny of such decisions, saying: “Could I remind the Secretary of State, I think he’ll be going to a Cobra meeting tomorrow, could he explain to the Prime Minister that we actually live in a democracy not a dictatorship and we would like a debate in this House?”
Mr Hancock replied: “Yes, there absolutely will be a debate in this House on the measures… that we have to use. We do have to move very fast.”
The chairman of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, Sir Graham Brady, then asked the minister if: “Balancing the measures to tackle Covid with the other health consequences such as cancer patients going undiagnosed or not treated in time and the economic and social consequences is a political judgment?”
He added: “And does he further agree with me that political judgments are improved by debate and scrutiny?”
Mr Hancock replied: “Yes I do and I do come to this despatch box as often as possible. I’m very sorry that I wasn’t able to come on Friday for Friday’s decision but the House wasn’t sitting.”
He added: “The more scrutiny the better is my attitude.”
GE: Industrial giant will stop building coal-fired power plants
In a dramatic reversal, one of the world’s biggest makers of coal-fired power plants is to exit the market and focus on greener alternatives.
US industrial giant General Electric said it would shut or sell sites as it prioritised its renewable energy and power generation businesses.
It comes ahead of a US Presidential election in which the candidates hold starkly different views on coal.
NGO the Natural Resources Defense Council said the move was “about time”.
GE has said in the past it would focus less on fossil fuels, reflecting the growing acceptance of cleaner energy sources in US power grids.
But just five years ago, it struck its biggest ever deal – paying almost £10bn for a business that produced coal-fuelled turbines.
In a statement, the firm suggested the decision had been motivated by economics.
Russell Stokes, GE’s senior vice president, said: “With the continued transformation of GE, we are focused on power generation businesses that have attractive economics and a growth trajectory.
“As we pursue this exit from the new build coal power market, we will continue to support our customers, helping them to keep their existing plants running in a cost-effective and efficient way with best-in-class technology and service expertise.”
US President Donald Trump has championed “beautiful, clean coal” at a time when other developed countries are turning away from polluting fossil fuels.
In a bid to revive the struggling US industry, Mr Trump has rolled back Obama-era standards on coal emissions. But it has not stopped the decline as cheaper alternatives such as natural gas, solar and wind gain market share.
GE said it would continue to service existing coal power plants, but warned jobs could be lost as a result of its decision.
The firm is already cutting up to 13,000 job cuts at GE Aviation, which makes jet engines, due to the pandemic.
In a tweet, the Natural Resources Defense Council said: “Communities and organizers have been calling on GE to get out of coal for years. This is an important and long overdue step in the right direction to protect communities’ health and the environment.”
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