Biden DOJ Intervenes In Saudi Spymaster Case Over ‘Damage To US National Security’
The Biden Justice Department has made ‘the extremely rare move’ of intervening in a court case against a former top Saudi spymaster who fled the country and is currently locked in an international feud with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
If the court case is allowed to proceed against Saad Aljabri – a former top Saudi counterterrorism official, it could lead to “the disclosure of information that could reasonably be expected to damage the national security of the United States,” according to CNN, citing a DOJ filing.
Aljabri – a former long-time aide to Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (ousted by MbS as heir to the throne in a 2017 palace coup) – fled to Canada in 2017 after the Crown Prince’s ascension. In a civil suit against MbS filed in US federal court, Aljabri accused Bin Salman of sending agents to kill him in 2018.
Conversely, a group of Saudi state-owned firms controlled by the prince filed a lawsuit in January accusing Aljabri of embezzling billions of dollars of state funds while working at the Mininstry of Interior. It’s this lawsuit that the Biden DOJ says could reveal ‘sensitive national security information.’
Aljabri has denied the accusations, and accused the prince of sending the assassination squad, as well as holding two of his children hostage in Saudi Arabia.
“It’s definitely rare for such [Justice Department] filings to occur,” said former DOJ spokesman, Marc Raimondi.
The classified information that could come to light includes ‘intelligence relationships, operations, classified sources and methods,’ according to a source familiar with the US intelligence apparatus. The revelations could also embarrass Obama-era officials, given the often “unseemly” nature of the intelligence world, the report continues.
“It’s the right thing to do. You don’t want to disclose these things,” said CNN‘s source.
By bringing the case against Aljabri in the United States, Saudi Arabia and its defacto ruler have put not only the US in a difficult position but prioritized the feud with Aljabri over the two countries’ relationship, the former government source said. The source added: “It appears to me a very personal vendetta that doesn’t have long term interests both for the kingdom and for the US and for intelligence cooperation in the future.”
Last week, a bipartisan group of US Senators wrote to President Biden to defend Aljabri, pointing to his two decades of partnership with America, and imploring Biden to take action to help Aljabri’s imprisoned children, 22-year-old Omar and 21-year-old Sarah.
“The Saudi government is believed to be using the children as leverage to blackmail their father and force his return to the kingdom from Canada, where he currently resides in fear of possible retribution for his previous support for a rival of Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salmon [sic],” wrote the letter signed by Sens. Marco Rubio, Tim Kaine, Patrick Leahy and Ben Cardin.
“The prolonged persecution of Dr. Aljabri and his family members has now evolved to risk the exposure of classified U.S. counter-terrorism projects,” the letter continues. “In light of these recent developments, we urge you and your administration to pursue an amicable resolution that secures the immediate release of Omar and Sarah and protects U.S. national security interests.”
The DOJ’s Tuesday motion says that on top of its “weighty interest in intervening,” it’s contemplating invoking state secrets privilege – which would allow the US government to block information from being presented which could harm national security.
Thu, 08/05/2021 – 19:20