The son-in-law of a former top Saudi intelligence officer living in Canada is allegedly being held by security forces in Saudi Arabia in an act of reprisal over a lawsuit the former spy filed accusing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of sending a “hit squad” to kill him.
Saad Aljabri’s family issued a statement Wednesday alleging that Salem Almuzaini, Aljabri’s son-in-law, was summoned to a government office in Riyadh on Monday and hasn’t been heard from since.
“Salem’s whereabouts are unknown,” said Aljabri’s son, Khalid Aljabri, a cardiologist based in Toronto. “Salem’s arrest is an obvious attempt to intimidate and blackmail my father.”
The statement says that two of Aljabri’s children were also detained earlier this year as part of an attempt by Prince Mohammed, widely known by his initials, M.B.S., to get the former Saudi spymaster to return home.
“They are hostages, innocent of wrongdoing. M.B.S. and Saudi authorities should do the right thing: free my sister, brother and brother-in-law immediately and unconditionally.”
Global News reached out to the Saudi embassies in Washington, D.C. and Ottawa for comment but did not receive a response.
Saad Aljabri spent nearly 40 years working for the Saudi government, where he specialized in national security and counterterrorism. In 2017, he fled the country amid a coup carried out by bin Salman and is now a permanent resident of Canada.
Aljabri, who lives in Toronto, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in the U.S. which contained stunning allegations accusing the crown prince of sending a group of mercenaries to Toronto to kill the former spy in October 2018, just weeks after the murder and dismemberment Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
In the 106-page lawsuit, Aljabri alleges he was targeted because of “humiliating and damning” knowledge of bin Salman and his actions.
“Few places hold more sensitive, humiliating and damning information about defendant bin Salman than the mind and memory of Dr. Saad — except perhaps the recordings Dr. Saad made in anticipation of his killing,” Aljabri asserts.
“That is why defendant bin Salman wants him dead, and why defendant bin Salman has worked to achieve that objective over the last three years.”
None of the allegations in the claim for damages in United States District Court for the District of Columbia have been tested.
The would-be assassins, called the Tiger Squad, were stopped by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and allegedly denied entry at Toronto Pearson International Airport.
“CBSA officers quickly became suspicious of the Tiger Squad Defendants — the majority of whom were attempting to enter the country on tourist visas — and sent them to secondary screening,” the lawsuit alleged. “Even when assembled as a group, they continued to deny their knowledge of the other Tiger Squad Defendants.”
Khalid Aljabri alleged his brother-in-law Almuzaini had previously been “tortured” and held by Saudi officials for 45 days before being released in January 2018.
Almuzaini’s wife and children live in Toronto, according to the family.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the summons just one day after Aljabri’s lawsuit was filed.
“If you fail to respond, judgment by default will be entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint,” reads the summons, which named 12 people in addition to Prince Mohammed.
A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair declined to answer questions about the new allegations and directed Global News to a previous statement from the minister from Aug. 6.
“While we cannot comment on specific allegations currently before the courts, we are aware of incidents in which foreign actors have attempted to monitor, intimidate or threaten Canadians and those living in Canada,” Blair said. “It is completely unacceptable and we will never tolerate foreign actors threatening Canada’s national security or the safety of our citizens and residents.”