Jamal Khashoggi murder the latest in string of suspected Saudi abductions and assassinations – RN
Jamal Khashoggi walked into Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul (pictured) never to be seen again (Getty: Ozan Kose)
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has triggered outrage and left Saudi Arabia relatively isolated by an international community that often tolerates its troublesome human rights record.
The investigation into the journalist’s disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is still underway, but Turkey has said the order to kill him came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government.
As these four cases show, Khashoggi is not the first Saudi dissident to be targeted beyond the country’s borders, often in the most mysterious of circumstances.
Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in all cases.
A forgotten activist
Nassir al-Sa’id, considered the first prominent Saudi critic of the royal family, was last seen in Beirut in the late 1970s.
The founder of the revolutionary Arabian Peninsula People’s Union, Sa’id had run an influential opposition radio program for decades.
In 1979 fundamentalist insurgents organised an armed seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Sa’id expressed public support for the move, which he described as a “People’s Revolution,” and claimed its true intention was to establish a democratic republic.
The men arrested after the seizure of Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979 were celebrated by Saudi dissident Nassir al-Sa’id, who later disappeared. (Getty: AFP)
The Saudi authorities were alarmed by Sa’id’s comments, and in December 1979 he mysteriously disappeared in Beirut.
His whereabouts remain unknown until this day, but it’s widely suspected that the Saudis were behind his disappearance.
Some historians have claimed Sa’id was captured by Saudi intelligence agents and then shipped to Riyadh in a crate, where he was imprisoned for many years, and most likely killed.
Three missing princes
In the early 2000s Prince Sultan bin Turki, while in Switzerland for hospital treatment, began a series of public presentations aimed at revealing what he called corruption within the Saudi ministry of defence.
A close descendant of Saudi Arabia’s founding monarch, he was lured to a private meeting with senior members of the Saudi royal family on the outskirts of Geneva.
During the meeting, five masked men appeared from behind the curtains and attacked him, according to a BBC Arabic documentary.
Days later he woke up in a hospital in the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Prince Sultan bin Turki was lured to the Saudi palace on the outskirts Geneva in Switzerland, where he was kidnapped. (Getty: Jean-Pierre Clartot)
After years of near silence, Prince Sultan resurfaced in 2010 when he was moved to the US for more health treatment.
From his hospital in Boston he launched an unprecedented civil case against the members of the Saudi government he deemed responsible for his kidnapping.
He was in exile once again.
In 2016, his private flight from Paris to Cairo was diverted to Riyadh. When the plane landed the prince was dragged off by armed men.
His entourage, which included several young Westerners who later retold the story, was held for three days in Saudi Arabia, their phones and passports confiscated.
In August 2017, Prince Sultan was reportedly still in Saudi Arabia, but nothing has been heard from him since.
While in exile in Paris, former police chief Prince Turki bin Bandar Al Saud began posting YouTube videos critical of the Saudi regime and its alleged human rights abuses.
He disappeared in late 2015, after allegedly being detained in Morocco while attempting to return to France.
Prince Saud bin Said al Nasr gained a reputation for his incendiary tweets in opposition to the monarchy.
According to BBC Arabic, he was approached with a business offer from a Russian-Italian consortium.
They persuaded him to board a private plane to Italy. He thought he was going to a business meeting to finalise the contract.
Like the other princes, he has not been seen or heard of since.
A coerced prime minister
In December 2017, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, was invited to visit Saudi Arabia on a diplomatic mission.
On his second day in the kingdom, he woke early and prepared for a planned camping trip in the desert with Crown Prince Salman.
Instead, according to a report in the New York Times, he was stripped of his mobile phone, separated from all but one of his usual cluster of bodyguards, and shoved and insulted by Saudi security officers.
He was then instructed to read out a pre-written resignation speech on Saudi television publicly blaming Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, for his decision.
Mr Hariri had frustrated Saudi authorities with his policy of accommodation towards Iran-backed Hezbollah.
During a diplomatic trip to Saudi Arabia Lebanese PM Saad Hariri abruptly resigned in mysterious circumstances (Getty: Saudi press Agency)
French intervention helped broker his return to Lebanon.
When he finally broke his silence, he attempted to dismiss reports he has been held by his Saudi patrons under some form of duress.
Multiple Lebanese sources, as well as two US officials, said Saudi Arabia masterminded Mr Hariri’s resignation in the wake of the incident.
He has since been reinstated as Prime Minister.
An escaped woman
In 2017 Dina Ali Lasloom, a 24-year-old Saudi woman, was attempting to leave her family in Kuwait to seek asylum in Australia.
She was fleeing a forced marriage arranged under Saudi Arabia’s male guardianship system, which subjugates woman, inspired by a particularly fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law.
While in transit in the Philippines, her passport was confiscated, and she was locked up for 13 hours, possibly with the co-operation of the Saudi embassy.
After being released into the terminal, she approached a Canadian tourist she had never met, named Meagan Khan.
She told the stranger that her uncles were on their way from Manila to retrieve her.
She recorded a video plea for help on Ms Khan’s phone.
While she was held up at Manilla airport a photo of Dina Ali Lasloom’s boarding pass went viral (Twitter)
“If my family come, they will kill me. If I go back to Saudi Arabia, I will be dead. Please help me. The Philippines government and Saudi are violating human rights and international law,” she said in the message, which would later go viral.
According to Human Rights Watch, several passengers said they had seen a woman being carried onto a plane by two men, assumed to be her uncle and a member of the Saudi embassy.
A rare gathering of Saudi activists visited Riyadh airport at midnight to seek information about Ms Lasloom, but she did not emerge from the flight with the rest of the passengers.
Her whereabouts are now unknown.