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Ex-CIA analyst claims to have intelligence, video of crown prince’s death threats against previous monarch
A former senior Saudi official claims to have intelligence about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent foiled assassination attempt on his grandfather, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, the country’s first Arab monarch.
Amir Hani al-Asiri, a former spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s elite state security services, claims to have information that his ex-colleagues involved in plotting the attack published by a German broadcaster last week.
“You can find out everything you need here – it’s a major game changer,” Asiri told Newsweek on Sunday.
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Asiri, who headed the elite Saudi Arabian National Guard, says in a text message to the magazine that it is his knowledge that Saudi security forces had intercepted a plot to assassinate Salman by a commando unit with support from Yemen’s Houthi movement.
No official statement has been issued by Saudi Arabia’s security agencies, but a Saudi defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said during a visit to Riyadh last week that Saudi troops intercepted a Houthi plane carrying lethal weapons that were to be used on an assassination attempt on Salman.
According to Bloomberg News, the White House has voiced misgivings about the Saudi role in the abortive attack in October 2018.
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Saudi Arabia believes Houthi rebels and their Iranian backers are behind the bombings, rocket attacks and kidnap attempts on its soldiers and government officials since Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2015.
“This is part of the body of evidence that the Saudis had previously said they had of attacks on Saudi forces,” Asiri told Newsweek.
“The reason that they released this material is because they wanted the world to focus on that, which is why there was a big hullabaloo over the Al Houthi missile attack in Riyadh last week.”
He said that when he worked in the Saudi defence ministry, he helped uncover another assassination attempt on Salman in 2012.
“That’s when we found a group from the Saudi National Guard who came to Yemen and were disguised as Yemeni troops to stage an attack on the king,” he said.
“They broke into an apartment and shot dead Sheikh Salama, a senior commander of a tribal movement, while he was asleep.”
Saudi Arabia’s official position is that the Houthis are Iranian proxies.
Iran denies involvement in Yemen and a Saudi-led coalition that is fighting the Houthis has also described them as Iranian proxies.
Other reports emerged late last week that Salman’s administration was mulling his succession after the current crown prince caused controversy by announcing a sweeping crackdown on political dissidents.
Saudi Arabia’s state media reported on Sunday that the kingdom’s General Authority for Media is investigating why the pictures of young women being held down by their hair by security forces were published.
It said the agency is investigating and if necessary fine the employees responsible. The organisation was not immediately available for comment.