A former top intelligence officer with Saudi Arabia’s elite intelligence team says he fears for his life because Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wants him dead and will use his “Tiger Squad” of henchmen to do it.
In a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Saad Aljabri, who was an adviser to former Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, described bin Salman as a “psychopath with no empathy,” who “doesn’t feel emotion.”
He told CBS News that he has seen a video in which bin Salman says he wanted to assassinate King Abdullah to pave the way for his own father—and eventually himself—to lead the kingdom. “We have witnessed atrocities and crimes committed by this killer,” Aljabri said, describing how the prince once said: “I want to assassinate King Abdullah. I get poison ring from Russia—it’s enough for me just to shake hands with him and he will be done.”
King Abdullah died in 2015 after a decade-long reign. His brother Salman was crowned king after his death; two years later, Salman removed bin Nayef and appointed his own son, known as MBS, as crown prince. A year later, MBS became an international pariah for his suspected role in the gruesome death of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and pointed critic of the kingdom.
Aljabri left Saudi Arabia in 2017 after he was forced out of his job, fleeing with all but two of his eight children and his wife. While there, two of his children were imprisoned as they were preparing to leave for college in the U.S. He says he has not spoken to them since.
Aljabri said he is also a target for the same sort of killing squad that lured Khashoggi to a Saudi consulate in Turkey, where he was murdered and dismembered. Canada stopped a similar team that arrived in Ottawa to kill Aljabri shortly after Khashoggi’s murder. “I expect to be killed one day because this guy will not rest until he [sees] me dead,” Aljabri said.
The former spymaster filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court in 2020, alleging the plot to kill him was real. “Like the team that murdered Khashoggi, those sent to kill Dr. Saad… were also members of defendant bin Salman’s personal mercenary group, the Tiger Squad,” the complaint reads. “Carrying two bags of forensic tools, and complete with forensic personnel experienced with the clean-up of crime scenes … the Tiger Squad defendants attempted to enter Canada covertly, traveling on tourist visas and seeking to avert the detection of Canadian border security by entering through separate kiosks.”
CBS News asked the Saudi government for a response, which they provided. “Saad Aljabri is a discredited former government official with a long history of fabricating and creating distractions to hide the financial crimes he committed,” they insist.
The kingdom has called to dismiss the suit, alleging instead that Aljabri and his former colleagues stole and misspent $11 billion from its counterterrorism arm. Canada has frozen Aljabri’s assets as it investigates whether he personally took some $500 million. When CBS anchor Scott Pelley asked him if he took the money, he denied it. When pressed about why he was so wealthy, Aljabri said that he had worked for Saudi monarchs who were “nice” to him.
Last week, it was reported that former President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was set to receive around $2 billion for his private-equity firm from the MBS-controlled Public Investment Fund, according to Project Brazen, an outlet run by a group of Wall Street Journal investigative journalists.