American sources reveal that the torture campaign was conducted by the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group and has been involved in at least a dozen operations.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters, it has been revealed.

According to The New York Times, the Prince sanctioned the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens more than a year before the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

American officials who have read classified intelligence reports about the campaign state that the year-long torture campaign was carried out by members of the same team that killed and dismembered Khashoggi in Istanbul, in October, 2018.

At least a dozen operations since 2017

American sources reveal that the torture campaign was conducted by the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group and was involved in at least a dozen operations starting in 2017.

Secret documents reveal that operations involved forcibly repatriating Saudis from other Arab countries and detaining and abusing prisoners in palaces belonging to the crown prince and his father, King Salman.

Intelligence reports state that the rapid intervention team had been so busy that last June its leader asked a top adviser to Prince Mohammed whether the crown prince would give the team bonuses for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

A spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington said the kingdom “takes any allegations of ill treatment of defendants awaiting trial or prisoners serving their sentences very seriously”.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the Saudi government insists that the killing of Khashoggi was not an assassination ordered from Riyadh. The decision to kill him was made by the team on the spot, government officials say, and those responsible are being prosecuted. Meanwhile, both Turkey and American intelligence agencies say the killing was premeditated and have proof that Prince Mohammed himself was behind the killing.

After the murder of Khashoggi, Saudi officials acknowledged that the Saudi intelligence service had a standing order to bring dissidents home. What they did not acknowledge was that a specific team had been built to do so.

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Author

Omar Hajjar is a journalist based in the UK. An investigative reporter, he has lived in 3 different countries in the Middle East over the past 10 years.

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