Saudi ‘Tiger Squad’ lawsuit dismissed by U.S. court

A U.S. judge has dismissed a case brought by a former top Saudi intelligence official against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi intelligence officer living in exile in Toronto, filed the suit against bin Salman and others in the summer of 2020, alleging they had made death threats and sought to “lure” Aljabri out of hiding.

The lawsuit also alleged that in October 2018 the crown prince sent a team of assassins, known as a Tiger Squad, to Canada, aiming to kill Aljabri. His suit was seeking unspecified damages from bin Salman and associates.

Part of the plan, Aljabri alleged, included the abduction of two of his adult children, Sarah and Omar, in Saudi Arabia in March 2020.

The statements in the claim were not tested in court.

The lawsuit said Aljabri was a target due to his close ties with the U.S. intelligence community, “intimate” knowledge of bin Salman’s activities and the threat to undermine bin Salman’s influence and support from Trump’s White House.

In response, bin Salman’s lawyer’s argued he was “entitled to status-based immunity from any suit in U.S. court.”

But the case carried on.

The court granted motions to dismiss brought by bin Salman and others named in the suit last month on the grounds it hadn’t been proven that the U.S. court had jurisdiction in the matter.

But the case was outstanding against one defendant, Bijad Alharbi. Alharbi had not been served after the complaint filed against him by Aljabri.

According to court documents filed by Aljabri on Oct. 14, he did not intend to serve Alharbi pending an appeal of the previous decision to dismiss the case. District judge Timothy Kelly in Washington, D.C., then dismissed it, rendering it closed in its entirety Oct. 19.

“To facilitate appellate review, Dr. Saad respectfully requests that, in connection with its order dismissing the claims as to Alharbi, the Court enter a final judgment making clear that the Court has disposed of all claims against all parties and that the action has been dismissed,” said the Oct. 14 documents, filed by Aljabri’s legal team.

Saad’s lawyers did not return to requests by the Star seeking comment.

The case was part of a larger legal struggle between Aljabri and parties in Saudi Arabia. In January 2021, a case against Aljabri was filed in Ontario Superior Court by a consortium of Saudi state-owned companies.

The lawsuit alleged Aljabri had schemed to defraud US$3.5 billion from the companies and hid the loot offshore.

Aljabri denied the allegations, but an Ontario judge froze his worldwide assets anyway while waiting to hear further arguments in 2021. Aljabri alleges the companies are controlled by bin Salman.

He says the suit is part of a continued attempt to harm and intimidate him because he is a supporter of former Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a rival for the throne of bin Salman who was overthrown in a 2017 palace coup he orchestrated.

In June, the Canadian government sought a court injunction to prevent Aljabri from filing security information it says is sensitive in the case.

With files from The Canadian Press and Star archives


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