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Saudi Arabia takes hostages

Saudi dictator bin Salman does not shy away from anything to blackmail the fugitive secret bearer Saad Aljabri and bring him back into the country. Aljabri’s adult children and his brother were arrested in Riyadh and taken hostage. The New York Times reported from confidential documents and electronic text messages.

First, the crown prince tried to lure the fugitive Saad Aljabri back to the country with a job offer, then turned to Interpol to have the intelligence officer extradited on corruption charges. As bin Salman wrote in September 2017: “They are involved in many large, proven corruption cases. No state in the world would refuse to extradite you.” Interpol, on the other hand, considered the extradition requests to be politically motivated and deleted Aljabri’s names from the system.

After the arrest of Aljabri’s family members in March this year, the state-controlled media jumped on an article in the Wall Street Journal that quoted unnamed Saudi officials who accused Aljabri of enriching themselves with billions of dollars of state money.

In Washington, Aljabri is valued as a “close confidant and friend of the United States”. Four senators wrote to Donald Trump demanding that the US have a moral obligation to do everything possible to secure the release of his children. Officials at the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment on the correspondence between bin Salman and Aljabri, the request to Interpol or the corruption allegations.

Aljabri was a top official in the service of security and anti-terrorism. He maintained close contact with US diplomats and the CIA. When bin Salman gained power, Aljabri was sacked by royal decree in 2015. When it became clear that bin Salman would replace Mohammed bin Nayef as crown prince and whose allies, including Aljabri, were on the firing list, Aljabri left the country and settled in Turkey.

The Crown Prince repeatedly tried to bring Aljabri back to the country on the pretext that he had a new task for him and that he absolutely needed his help. When Aljabri did not immediately respond to the call, Aljabri’s 17-year-old daughter Sarah and 18-year-old son Omar were banned from leaving Saudi Arabia. Aljabri did not respond to his request to lift the exit ban. In response to a request, three months later, Mohammed bin Salman replied: “When I see you, I will explain the background to you.”

Shortly thereafter, Prince Mohammed sharpened the tone and threatened Aljabri with arrest. When he traveled from Turkey to Canada, Saudi Arabia turned on Interpol. Interpol argued that Prince Mohammed’s crackdown on hundreds of prominent Saudi citizens in 2017 was “part of a political strategy to eliminate potential political rivals or the opposition.”

The pressure on Aljabri did not stop there. In March, his two children were arrested in the Saudi capital Riyadh. In May, his brother suffered the same fate. The family has not heard from them since.