Skip to main content

Saad al-Jabri alleges second assassination plot in amended complaint against MBS

Filing claims Saudi crown prince tried to lure Jabri's daughter to Saudi consulate in Istanbul, days before Jamal Khashoggi was killed
The new filing is the latest action taken in a legal battle between Jabri and bin Salman.
New filing is latest action taken in legal battle between Jabri (R) and bin Salman (AFP)
By Umar A Farooq in Washington

Former Saudi intelligence official Saad al-Jabri claimed agents working for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) attempted to lure a member of his family to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just days before the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The new allegations are contained in an amended complaint filed in a federal court in Washington DC on Thursday.

The filing alleges that, in September 2018, Saudi officials tried to get Jabri's daughter, Hissah al-Muzaini, to visit the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the city in which she was residing, to get her to renew her passport and then return to Saudi Arabia.

In March 2020, two of Jabri's adult children and his brother were detained in Saudi Arabia, prompting accusations by relatives and US officials that they were being held hostage to secure Jabri's return.

'If the allegations in this Complaint seem fantastical, that is only because it is difficult to fathom the depths of depravity of Defendant bin Salman'

- Lawsuit filed by Saad al-Jabri

The amended complaint comes months after Jabri first sued the crown prince for sending a 50-man hit squad - dubbed the "Tiger Squad" - to Canada to assassinate him. The plan ultimately failed after the agents were not able to get past Canadian border patrol, according to court documents.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The new complaint alleges that when the October 2018 plan failed, the crown prince convened a meeting in May 2020 and directed agents to embark on another assassination mission.

This time, instead of flying into Canada, they would travel to the United States and enter the country through the land border. The individuals in the meeting also discussed obtaining a fatwa - religious ruling - to endorse the killing.

The complaint says that Jabri was sought out by using a network of Saudi students in the United States, under the guise of bin Salman's non-profit organisation, the MiSK foundation.

"The U.S.-Based Covert Agents willingly obeyed these directives, fully aware that noncompliance could bring about consequences like passport freezes, death threats, intimidation, retraction of scholarships, and attempts to lure [Saudi students] back to the country," the lawsuit read.

The court filing does not elaborate whether the second alleged mission was attempted, but it says that Jabri has faced repeated threats on his life over the past few months.

The Tiger Squad, comprised of 50 of the best-skilled intelligence and military operatives in the kingdom, were responsible for the killing of Khashoggi, sources previously revealed to Middle East Eye.

Also on Thursday, Congressman Adam Schiff introduced a bill, titled the Jamal Khashoggi Press Freedom Accountability Act, that would halt US foreign assistance and issue sanctions against entities and individuals and responsible for human rights violations against journalists.

If it passed and becomes law, it would also mandate that the State Department create an annual list of foreign individuals who have committed "gross human rights violations" against a journalist or member of the media.

Last month, Schiff also sent a letter to US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines welcoming the Biden administration's pledge to release a declassified report detailing who killed Khashoggi.

'Depravity' of Mohammed bin Salman

The new filing is the latest action taken in a legal battle between Jabri and bin Salman. Last month, a group of Saudi state-run companies filed a lawsuit against Jabri in the Ontario Superior Court, alleging that the former high-ranking official orchestrated a money-laundering scheme and stole upwards of $3.5bn from Saudi Arabia.

Jabri has denied the charges, and a campaign for the Jabri family said he "welcomes the opportunity to face off against MBS in neutral judicial forums".

A former Saudi intelligence official who had deep ties with the CIA, Jabri had been a key go-between for Western spy agencies and the Saudi intelligence apparatus. 

Saudi companies file Canadian lawsuit against Saad al-Jabri in embezzlement allegations
Read More »

He worked closely under former Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, who in 2017 was ousted, put under house arrest, and replaced by his cousin - bin Salman - as the country's crown prince. Jabri fled the country before the palace coup and landed in Canada in 2018, where he currently resides.

A source familiar with his situation previously told MEE that Jabri's loyalty to bin Nayef and his decades-spanning knowledge of the inner workings of the kingdom's powerful Interior Ministry had made him a target of MBS.

"If the allegations in this Complaint seem fantastical, that is only because it is difficult to fathom the depths of depravity of Defendant bin Salman and the men he empowered to carry out his will," the complaint says.

"But make no mistake: the attempt to kill Dr. Saad, just like the completed killing of Jamal Khashoggi days before, was not a one-off incident, but rather the way Defendant bin Salman regularly operated in the years leading up to the fateful events of 2018.

Jabri's knowledge of Riyadh's secrets and his "deep connection to the U.S. Government, is exactly why Defendant bin Salman wants him dead".

"And Defendant bin Salman was prepared to reach inside the United States to make that happen."

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.