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Saudi crown prince boasted he could kill King Abdullah, says former spy chief

Saad al-Jabri calls Mohammed Bin Salman a 'psychopath killer' and says he sent a death squad to target him in Canada
Former Saudi intelligence official Saad al-Jabri speaks with 60 Minutes in an interview aired on Sunday (Screenshot)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasted that he could kill Saudi King Abdullah with a poison ring from Russia, a former top Saudi intelligence official told CBS's 60 Minutes programme on Sunday.

Saad al-Jabri said Bin Salman told him and Jabri's boss, Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef, in 2014 that he could assassinate the sitting king, his uncle, to clear the throne for his father, King Salman. 

'I am here to sound the alarm about a psychopath killer in the Middle East with infinite resources'

- Saad al-Jabri, former intelligence official

"It is enough for me just to shake hands with him and he will be done," Jabri said the young prince told the two.

In a wide-ranging interview, Jabri also said he declined to help the prince set up the death squad - known as 'the Tiger Squad' - that would attempt to target him three years later, days after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"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," Jabri said.

It was the first interview Jabri has given since it emerged publicly, as first reported by Middle East Eye, that the Tiger Squad attempted to render him from Canada in 2018.

'The dirty job'

Jabri was the second-in-command in the kingdom's Interior Ministry before he fled in 2017 shortly before Bin Nayef was put under house arrest and replaced by his cousin, the crown prince.

The former top advisor is believed to be one of several prominent Saudis, including princes and dissidents, targetted by the squad whose existence was first revealed by MEE.

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Earlier this year, it emerged that several members of the team were trained by a US military contractor with the approval of the US State Department.

"It was created to do the dirty job for MBS," Jabri said of the squad. "At the beginning, he tried with us when he has some princes in Europe against him. We're talking about 2015."

"He came to me as a representative of the security and he said, 'we need to bring them back. Kidnap them or something.' I said, 'no, we are a country. We cannot do that'."

Journalist Scott Pelley pointed out that the squad was "amateurish", leaving clues after they killed Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. 

Jabri responded: "They are criminals. They want to achieve the goal without professionals working. If they want to kill somebody they could have done it easily by other means. It's just MBS and his style." 

Held hostage

Jabri's children, Omar and Sarah, and his son-in-law, Salem Almuzaini, are currently being held in Saudi prisons.

Omar and Sarah, who were planning to attend college in the US, were barred from leaving the kingdom in 2017.

Almuzaini was kidnapped from Dubai and returned to the kingdom, according to legal filings.

Once in Saudi Arabia, Almuzaini was lashed more than 100 times and told he was being tortured "as a proxy for his father-in-law", Khalid al-Jabri, Saad's oldest son, told the programme.

"They even asked him a question: 'who do you think we could arrest and torture so Dr Saad can come back to the kingdom?'" he said.

Jabri and the Saudi government are currently locked in legal battles in the US and Canada.

While Jabri alleges that the Tiger Squad attempted to target him in exile and is holding his family members hostage, the Saudi government contends that he stole or misspent up to $10bn from the kingdom's counter-terrorism fund.

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The Saudi government told 60 Minutes in a statement that Jabri is "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 lifestyle for himself and his family."

Jabri denies that he stole any money. Asked by 60 Minutes how he became wealthy, Jabri said: "I have served a royal monarchy in close proximity for two decades. Three kings, four crown princes."

"They've been nice to me. They've been very generous. It's a tradition [of the] Saudi Arabian royal family. They take care of people around them."

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.