Ex-Saudi spy calls MBS ‘psychopath,’ threat to the US ahead of Biden’s visit

​A former Saudi spymaster described Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who the US says sent a hit squad to kill and dismember Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, as a “psychopath” whose immense wealth makes him a threat to the United States and other countries around the world — as President Biden prepares for a much-anticipated meeting with the monarch later this week.

Saad Aljabri, once the number two official in Saudi intelligence, said the crown prince runs a vicious gang of mercenaries called the “Tiger Squad” that he uses to carry out kidnappings and killings, including the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

“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,” Aljabri told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that aired Sunday.

“A psychopath?” host Scott Pelley asked.​

“A psychopath with no empathy, doesn’t feel emotion, never learned from his experience. And we have witnessed atrocities and crimes committed by this killer,” Aljabri elaborated.

The former Saudi spymaster was number two in Saudi intelligence before the crown prince forced him out.
CBS

Aljabri was a top adviser to Mohammed bin Nayef, the nephew of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. But MBS removed Nayef as the heir to the Saudi throne in a 2017 palace purge.

By then, Aljabri, fearing for his life, had already left the country and after the coup fled to Canada, where he lives in exile.

On the day of the coup, Aljabri said, two of his children were put in Saudi prisons. Since then, his son-in-law was kidnapped from a third country and returned to the kingdom, where he was tortured.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (
President Biden is set to meet with the controversial Saudi monarch later this week.
Balkis Press/Abaca/Sipa USA

He added that days before Khashoggi’s killing was revealed, he received a tip from a friend in a Middle Eastern intelligence service that a hit squad was headed to Canada to find him.

“And the warning I received [was,] ‘Don’t be in a proximity of any Saudi mission in Canada. Don’t go to the consulate. Don’t go to the embassy.’ I said why? [They] said, ‘They dismembered the guy, they killed him. You are on the top of the list,’” Aljabri told Pelley.

In the event, Aljabri went on, the six-person hit squad lied to customs officials at the airport in Ottawa and were deported.​​

Aljabri went on to claim that MBS fears him because he has information about his intent to kill then-King Abdullah, who died in 2015.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with US President Donald Trump
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince shakes hands with President Donald Trump at the G20 leaders summit on June 29, 2019.
Reuters
President Barack Obama welcomes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (C) and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia to the White House May 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.
President Barack Obama welcomes the Saudi royals to the White House on May 13, 2015.
Getty Images

According to Aljabri, bin Salman told Nayef in 2014 of his intention to kill the sitting king to clear the way for his own father, the present King Salman, to take the throne.

“And he told him, ‘I want to assassinate King Abdullah. I got a poison ring from Russia. It’s enough for me just to shake hands with him and he will be done,’” Aljabri told “60 Minutes.”

The revelations come on the eve of Biden’s ​trip to Israel, the West Bank and Saudi Arabia — a visit that has sparked criticism over his intention to meet with MBS even after then-candidate Biden vowed to treat the Saudi government as a “pariah” after Khashoggi’s killing.

Biden defended the visit in a Washington Post op-ed over the weekend, arguing that he would seek the Saudis’ help to bring down record-high gas prices and promote peace in the region.

“I know that there are many who disagree with my decision to travel to Saudi Arabia,” wrote Biden, who leaves for the trip on Tuesday.

“My views on human rights are clear and long-standing, and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when I travel abroad, as they will be during this trip, just as they will be in Israel and the West Bank.”

The Saudi Embassy in Washington responded to “60 Minutes” by calling Aljabri 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.”

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman waves as he is welcomed by Turkey's President
All eyes will be on the crown prince as he meets with President Biden this week.
AFP via Getty Images

But former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell vouched for the one-time Saudi spy, saying the information he provided saved the lives of many Americans.

“Dr. Saad absolutely saved American lives. He saved Saudi lives, many of them, and he saved American lives,” Morell told “60 Minutes.”

Pelley asked Aljabri if he had stolen $500 million from the Saudi counterterrorism budget, as the royal family has alleged in lawsuits filed in the US and Canada.​

Aljabri denied taking the money, saying that his wealth came from the generosity of the Saudi royal family.​

December 15, 2014 Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi attends a press conference in Manama.
The fiancée of murdered US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi told President Biden “you are dishonoring yourself” by meeting with Mohammad bin Salman.
AFP via Getty Images

“I have served a royal monarchy in close proximity for two decades,” he said. “Three kings, four crown princes. They’ve been nice to me. They’ve been very generous. It’s a tradition in the royal family of Saudi Arabia. They take care of people around them.”

Morell said he doesn’t know if the royals’ allegations about Aljabri are true.​

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t because he’s such an honorable man. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if he was,” he said. “Because everybody to some extent had their hand in the kitty. And King Abdullah allowed it, permitted it.”

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