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Exiled spy chief says MBS believes he's the CIA's source on Khashoggi murder

Saad al-Jabri says Saudi crown prince suspects he's the source in the CIA's report on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi
Saad al-Jabri fled Saudi Arabia in 2017 and later sought refuge in Canada (AFP/File photo)

Former Saudi spy chief Saad al-Jabri has claimed that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, believes he's the source in the CIA's report on the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In court documents filed on Thursday, Jabri denied allegations that he embezzled billions of dollars and said he was the victim of a "politically driven attack" that was aiming to portray him as a "criminal mastermind".

"Bin Salman perceives Dr. Saad to be a significant threat because of Dr. Saad’s close ties with the United States intelligence community, his long relationship with [former Crown Prince Muhammad] bin Nayef, and the highly sensitive information possessed by Dr. Saad," the documents said, as seen by The Globe and Mail.

"For instance, Dr. Saad understands that bin Salman believes Dr. Saad to be the source of the CIA's conclusion that bin Salman was involved in the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October, 2018."

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The documents were prepared for a hearing on Friday as a part of a lawsuit filed against Jabri by 10 companies owned by Tahakom Investments - a subsidiary of the Saudi sovereign foreign wealth fund chaired by MBS.

The civil suit claims Jabri colluded with former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and received $1.2bn in misappropriated funds, with bin Nayef allegedly transferring at least $55m to Jabri in illicit payments.

Jabri's lawyers have denied the allegations and urged a Canadian court to lift a freeze on his worldwide assets.

His lawyers added that they believed MBS was behind the suit as he chairs the fund, and added that the allegations were similar to those in a request to Interpol by Saudi Arabia to extradite Jabri back to the kingdom.

Interpol reportedly rejected the request, citing a "lack of due process and human rights guarantees".

Khashoggi report

The court documents appear as the Biden administration plans to release an unclassified report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that is understood to conclude MBS ordered Khashoggi's killing. According to the Washington Post, the report could be released as early as next week.

A royal family insider turned critic, Khashoggi was killed at Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, in a case that significantly tarnished the reputation of the crown prince, who had been lauded as a reformist.

Riyadh initially denied the assassination, but two weeks after his disappearance admitted Khashoggi had been killed, describing the murder as a rogue operation occurring without the knowledge or approval of the country's leadership.

The remains of Khashoggi, a columnist for Middle East Eye and the Washington Post, have never been found.

Last year, Jabri filed a lawsuit against MBS in a US court claiming the royal ordered a 50-person kill team dubbed "the Tiger Squad" to kill him in Canada.

The incident allegedly took place in October 2018 - just two weeks after Khashoggi's murder.

In an amended filing earlier this month, Jabri said MBS also directed agents to embark on a second assassination attempt in 2020. 

He added that agents working for the Saudi royal attempted to lure his daughter, Hissah al-Muzaini, to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just days before Khashoggi's death.