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Verdicts & Settlements

U.S. Court Dismisses Saudi Company’s Lawsuit Against Former Kingdom Intelligence Official

— December 30, 2021

While Sakab Saudi Holding Co. claims that Saad al-Jabri defrauded them of $3.5 billion, al-Jabri alleges that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman sent a “death squad” to Canada to kill him.

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against a former Saudi intelligence official after the U.S. Director of National Intelligence invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent sensitive information from being released to the courts.

According to The Hill, the lawsuit was initially filed by Saudi’s state-owned Sakab Saudi Holding Co. against former senior Saudi intelligence officer Saad al-Jabri.

In his ruling, District Court Judge Nathaniel Gorton found that, without the documents withheld by the federal government, “the court is unconvinced” it could rule in favor of the Saudi company.

Gorton also noted that there is no basis in either state or federal law which would allow the case to proceed in its present form.

Similarly, says Reuters, the United States’ governments of invocation of its state secrets privilege barred al-Jabri from proceeding with a counter-claim for a judgment that he had legally obtained luxury properties in Boston.

The CIA has suggested that Khashoggi was likely killed on orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured. While Bin Salman has portrayed himself as a reformer striving to modernize Saudi Arabia, critics have said he has exhibited a harsh–often brutal–authoritarian streak. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user:U.S. Secretary of Defense. (Photographer: Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kathryn E. Holm). (CCA-BY-2.0).

These properties, adds Reuters, are being sought by Sakab.

“This is a private action between corporate entities and al-Jabri,” an unnamed Saudi official told Reuters. “The Kingdom is not a party to this action. Any inquiries should be directed to the companies involved.”

According to Reuters, al-Jabri was a close aide to Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former Saudi government minister who was heir to the kingdom’s throne until Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman staged an internal palace coup in 2017.

After the successful coup attempt, which saw Mohammad bin Salman ascend to the position of heir to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, al-Jabri fled to Canada.

In a 2020 lawsuit, al-Jabri claimed that Canadian authorities had disrupted a Saudi plot to kill him with a “death squad.”

The incident, adds Reuters, allegedly occurred less than two weeks after Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

While the Saudi government has denied any connection to Khashoggi’s killing, Turkish intelligence analysts—along with their Western counterparts—were quick to ascertain links between members of the Istanbul “death squad” to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Later, Sakab and nine other Saudi companies filed a lawsuit against al-Jabri in a Canadian court, claiming that while al-Jabri was in Mohammed bin Nayef’s employ, he masterminded a scheme to defraud them of an estimated $3.5 billion.

Sakab later brought similar claims in a Massachusetts court, seeking the seizure of eight luxury condominiums owned by al-Jabri and his two sons in the Boston area. Reuters suggests that Sakab and its allies filed this claim in anticipation they would win their case in Canada.


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