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Ex-Saudi official calls crown prince a ‘psychopath’ who wanted to assassinate the king

Former senior Saudi security official Saad Jabri
In an interview with “60 Minutes.” former senior Saudi security official Saad Jabri called Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “a psychopath.”
(CBS News / “60 Minutes”)

A former senior Saudi security official who helped oversee joint counterterrorism efforts with the U.S. alleged in an interview with “60 Minutes” that the kingdom’s crown prince once spoke of killing a sitting Saudi monarch before his own father was crowned king.

Saad Jabri did not provide evidence to the CBS News program, which aired Sunday.

Jabri, who lives in exile in Canada, said that in 2014, Prince Mohammed bin Salman boasted that he could kill then-King Abdullah. At the time, Mohammed held no senior role in government but was serving as gatekeeper to the royal court of his father, who was heir to the throne. King Salman ascended to the throne in January 2015 after Abdullah, his half-brother, died of what was officially listed as natural causes.

Jabri used the interview to warn now-Crown Prince Mohammed that he has recorded a video revealing even more Saudi royal secrets and some of the U.S. A short, silent clip was shown to “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley. The video, Jabri said, could be released if he’s killed.

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Jabri’s allegations are the latest attempt to put pressure on the 36-year-old crown prince, who is Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler. Two of Jabri’s adult children are in detention in Saudi Arabia, allegedly as pawns to force their father to return to the country. If he returns, Jabri faces possible imprisonment or house arrest like his former boss, the once-powerful interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was ousted from the line of succession by the current crown prince in 2017.

Jabri, 62, said the crown prince would not rest until “he sees me dead” because “he fears my information.” He described Prince Mohammed as “a psychopath, [a] killer.”

A newly released U.S. report concludes that the Saudi crown prince directed the operation to kill the Washington Post journalist.

The crown prince drew global outcry after it emerged that aides who worked for him had killed Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018. After recordings from inside the consulate were leaked by Turkish authorities, the Saudis claimed that it had been an effort meant to forcibly bring Khashoggi back to the country and that it went awry. The crown prince denied any knowledge of the operation, despite a U.S. intelligence assessment to the contrary.

Jabri said that in a 2014 meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who was head of intelligence as interior minister at the time, the much younger Prince Mohammed bin Salman said he could kill King Abdullah to make way for his father’s rise to the throne.

“He told him, ‘I want to assassinate King Abdullah. I get a poison ring from Russia. It’s enough for me just to shake hand[s] with him and he will be done,’” Jabri said, claiming that Saudi intelligence took the threat seriously. The issue was handled within the royal family, Jabri said.

A video recording of that meeting still exists, he said.

The president’s failure to saction Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination shows that oil is still more important than human rights.

The Saudi government told CBS News that Jabri is “a discredited former government official with a long history of fabricating and creating distractions to hide the financial crimes he committed.” The government has issued extradition requests and Interpol notices for Jabri, alleging that he is wanted for corruption. Jabri maintains that his wealth comes from the generosity of the kings he’s served.

While it is not the first time Jabri has tried to exert pressure on the crown prince, it is his first on-the-record interview since his son Omar, 23, and daughter Sarah, 21, were detained in March 2020 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A son-in-law was allegedly kidnapped from a third country, forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia, tortured and detained.

Human Rights Watch says the arrest of family members is an apparent effort to coerce Jabri to return to Saudi Arabia. A Saudi court sentenced his son and daughter to nine and six-and-a-half years in prison, respectively, for money-laundering and unlawfully attempting to flee Saudi Arabia, according to the rights group. An appeals court reportedly upheld the prison sentence in May, without informing the family.

Jabri has filed a federal lawsuit in the United States against the Saudi crown prince, alleging that the prince tried to trap and kill him in the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, Saudi entities are suing Jabri in the U.S. and Canada, claiming that he stole around half a billion dollars from the counterterrorism budget. A Canadian judge has frozen his assets because of purported evidence of fraud as the case proceeds, according to the CBS News report.


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