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Saudi Arabia Wants Its Fugitive Spymaster Back
Officials say billions in a Saudi counterterrorism fund under the control of spy chief Saad al Jabri have gone missing; Jabri’s supporters say the money was used to fight terrorists
Mohammed bin Salman, left, spoke to then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2016 in Riyadh.
PHOTO: SAUDI ROYAL PALACE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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July 17, 2020 12:47 pm ET
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Saad al Jabri was America’s closest antiterrorism contact in the Arab world for more than 15 years, beginning after the 9/11 attacks. The Saudi spymaster had informants, access to billions of government dollars, close relationships with key members of the royal family and an ability to get things done that Americans found rare among their connections in the Middle East.
Now Mr. Jabri is an international fugitive. He is on the run from Saudi Arabia, where officials allege that a group of men he led while working for the Interior Ministry misspent $11 billion in government money, paying themselves at least $1 billion.
The Saudi government issued extradition requests and Interpol notices. Mr. Jabri believes Saudi authorities sent an old friend of his to lure him back. In March, they jailed two of his young adult children.
The bitter fight between the Saudi government and Mr. Jabri opens the books on the country’s system of patronage, business deals and alleged self-enrichment, all done in the name of fighting terrorism.
Current and former U.S. and European intelligence officials said the investigation risks revealing sensitive secrets of U.S.-Saudi operations against Islamic extremists. They said one or both sides in the feud might leak such secrets to bolster their case.
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