Several years ago I wrote about whether or not the Saudis could be trusted, due to matters ranging from the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice’s Mutaween (Saudi Arabia’s religious police) to slavery to Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. And several incidents that occurred in recent years should convince the United States Government on re-examining its relationship with the Saudis.
First, there was the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government, including the crown prince Mohammad bin Salman. Khashoggi’s dismembered body was found in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and it is said the crown prince had ordered his murder, and the Saudi Government was accused of trying to cover up the matter.
Second, there is the hacking of the cell phone of Jeff Bezos- Amazon’s founder and owner of the Washington Post. The hacking occurred after Bezos received a Whatsapp message from the crown prince. The motive for hacking Bezos’s phone is unclear, although it might be related to Khashoggi’s criticism of the Saudi Government (as well as his death), especially since Khashoggi wrote for the Washington Post.
Third, there was the attempt by Saudi agents to kidnap Abdulrahman Almutairi, another critic of the Saudi Government. What makes this attempted kidnapping particularly disturbing is the fact that it took place here in America, where Almutairi lives.
There have also been other attempts to intimidate critics of the Saudi Government. The cell phone of Omar Abdulaziz (a Saudi activist living in Canada) was infected with spyware, and his friends and relatives had either been arrested or had “disappeared” to his activism. Meanwhile, photographer and activist Danah Al-Mayouf has also been targeted by Saudi agents.
It is apparent the Saudis are willing to silence their critics no matter what country they live in. Such a frightening scenario is similar to what Muammar al-Gaddafi did when he was dictator of Libya, extending his tentacles across the globe to eliminate dissidents. It is also psychological warfare — dissidents living in fear regardless of where they live.
Finally, there is the fact that the Saudi Government has helped its citizens accused of crimes committed while living here in the United States escape justice. One such case is that of Abdulrahmeen Sameer Noorah, who was charged in 2016 with manslaughter, felony hit-and-run, and reckless driving after fatally hitting a fifteen-year-old with his car but managed to flee the United States with the help of the Saudi Government. And who knows how many other Saudis accused of a crime have fled the U.S. with the help of their government?
Such incidents are further proof that America needs to re-examine its ties with the Saudis.