by Sarah Whalen
Why is Aljabri jabbering to “60 Minutes” now?
Former Saudi “spymaster” Saad Aljabri chatted about psychology and world leadership on CBS’s “60 Minutes” this past Sunday, when most Americans were sleeping late, drinking coffee, getting ready to mow the lawn, put some burgers and ribs on the grill, or heading out to church and back home to put supper on the table.
While Americans were snoozing and sipping coffee and pulling cords on their mowers or making sure they had enough gas in their cars to make it to the big white steeple place and back and also mow the lawn and get the grill hot, all the while running their AC, Aljabri made a televised medical diagnosis he’s notably unqualified to make about the son of the King of Saudi Arabia’s alleged mental state. MBS, Aljabri alleges, “is a psychopath”.
Aljabri is not a doctor, of course. But maybe he’s diagnosing the Crown Prince by way of the adage, “It takes one to know one”. What reasons might Aljabri have to make this claim?
Oh, about eleven billion of them.
Or maybe it’s just four billion reasons, or perhaps as low as three—as in billions of U.S. dollars, which Aljabri claims were “generous” gifts that Saudi royals paid to him in the past because he was such an exceptional “spymaster”. Or perhaps it’s down to a mere $500 million dollars, as Aljabri discussed on 60 Minutes. Whether $11 billion dollars or a paltry $500 million, Aljabri clearly would like to keep his cash, although much of Aljabri’s cash is no longer cash but instead has been invested by him in things like mansion homes, five-star hotel condominiums, and other hoards.
After MBS came on to power, the Saudis did some book-keeping and became concerned because a lot of money was missing. Some of it was traced to Aljabri’s anti-terrorism activities. But how much does it cost to put the moves on Al Qaeda? The Saudis pondered that maybe Aljabri had paid too much to keep the world safe from Al Qaeda, and perhaps had paid himself too much. The Saudis then decided that they would like their $11 billion dollars back, please. Oh, wait—maybe it was only $4 billion, or $3 billion, or that measly $500 million.
Whatever. I say “Albatasis”, Aljabri says “Potato”, and Canadians say, “French fries” because Canada is the second biggest exporter of French fries in the world—in the world. I bet that some Canadian French fries are being consumed in Saudi Arabia right now—maybe even at Al Baik!
It’s odd that while Aljabri was so meticulous about taking all those big bucks with him when he left Saudi Arabia, he left behind his two youngest children, Sarah and Omar, like a couple of suitcases he never got around to finish packing. It’s a nightmarish version of that popular movie, “Home Alone”, but with accusations of crimes like money laundering and prison sentences rather than a too-busy, distracted mom taking a large family group on a Christmas vacation to Paris, and then scouring the globe when she realizes that one of her precious children has been left behind, and she will do anything to get him back.
How much are the lives of two children worth? $9 billion? $4, or $3 billion? $500 million?
Ah, so who is the true psychopath here?
Aljabri told “Sixty Minutes” that MBS sent a “Tiger Squad” to Canada to assassinate him because the Saudis are very, very upset that Aljabri took $11 billion dollars, or maybe just $4, or perhaps $3 billion, or that pittance of $500,000 million when he took off to live, well, somewhere else.
Canada, it turns out, was receptive to having Spymaster Aljabri permanently residing there when the United States was, well, less so. And while it’s true that the “Tiger Squad” showed up in Canada with some kind of gizmo that can do quickie DNA testing (because the “Tiger Squad” would never want to grab the wrong guy when they’re looking for Aljabri), it’s kind of murky whether the “Tiger Squad” was actually going to chop anyone up into little pieces and then “disappear” them.
Canada doesn’t go for that kind of thing. Canada banned the kiddie show “Power Rangers” because it was “too violent” and of course Canada has a point, as it always does. But Canada’s also not buying into Aljabri’s claims of violent assassins crossing into Canadian Airspace to murder him “like they did to Khashoggi”. Instead, Canada’s courts are helping the Saudis track down those missing $11 billions. Or maybe it’s only $4 billion, or $3 billion, or a measly half a billion. Whatever.
The buck stops at the land of the Maple Leaf beavertail.
And if you don’t know what a beavertail is, then you ain’t Canadian, man!
Actually, it’s a very tasty donut that Canada is justly famous for.
My dream is that, one day, Riyadh’s House of Donuts will serve the inimitable beavertail—along with a cup of truly delicious coffee.
Maybe the “Tiger Squad” that flew to Canada didn’t want to assassinate Aljabri. Maybe they just wanted to talk to him to get Saudi’s $11 billion dollars back, and use the DNA to make sure that they weren’t wasting their time talking to an imposter. Or maybe the Saudis were just looking for their $4 billion, or $3 billion—but I raise my eyebrows at $500 million. I am really not sure whether the “Tiger Squad” would go through all that aggravation and bad publicity to risk yet another “Khashoggi” scandal to just get back a mere $500 million dollars.
But even a paltry $500 million will fill a lot of gas tanks, start a lot of lawn mowers, and power up the propane tanks that grill those Sunday afternoon burgers and ribs, and the AC that makes life in the summertime worth living. Or maybe the Saudis just wanted to send Aljabri and any other well-connected Saudi “spymasters” out there a message about what happens when you, well, let’s say “take” rather than “steal”, $11 billion dollars—or less.
Perhaps a “Tiger Squad” will want to talk to you and get some of Saudi Arabia’s money back.
Like when the phone company you jettisoned for the better deal with the other phone company uses a pesky, persistent robo-call phone company with a truly annoying, non-human, non-sentient voice to start calling you to “discuss” your unpaid bill.
So, there’s “torture” and there’s “torture”.
Why is Aljabri jabbering to “60 Minutes” now?
So much moaning and crying and tearing of garments is going on because, well, because later this week U.S. President Joe Biden is going to stop pedaling his bicycle, leave his Delaware beach house, take a break from all those icky photos of his son Hunter smoking the pipe, floating in a water tank under spooky dim lights, and saying, “I hate my stepmother”. This week, President Biden will actually get on a plane and go somewhere.
And not just anywhere.
President Biden is going to Saudi Arabia.
But he’s not going to grab an extra-large chocolate glazed at Riyadh’s House of Donuts—along with a cup of truly delicious coffee. Nor will he gobble up some indescribably scrumptious broasted chicken and fries at Al Baik—although actually, Al Baik’s broasted chicken is worth all the security hassle of diverting Air Force One for. And it’s unlikely that Joe will sit on a lovely oriental rug, drink delicate white tea or thimbles full of Arabic coffee and cardamon in a tent on a breezy Saudi night, and nibble on the most divine Saghai dates, stuffed with pistachios and quite unnecessarily drizzled with desert bees’ honey.
President Biden’s going to Saudi Arabia. He says he’s not going there to meet Saudi’s charismatic Crown Prince MBS, but we know that is what is going to happen. Whether the international press cameras will capture this moment is unknown. Whether Biden will tumble down the steps of his plane (powered by that Saudi oil), and then fall upon his knees and bow his head deep in the sand (making it all look like an unplanned accident), and beg for oil and gas to fill up Americans’ gas tanks so we can get to church on time on Sunday, power up the lawn mower, throw burgers and ribs on the grill, crank up the AC and turn off that boring, whining Aljabri on “Sixty Minutes” is something we don’t know, and may never see.
But it really might happen.
And there are $11 billion reasons why it should.
Sarah Whalen has a J.D. from New York Law School, an M.A. degree in history from New York University, and an Ll.M. from Temple University School of Law.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Milli Chronicle’s point-of-view.