ISTANBUL – Faisal al Jarba fled his native Saudi Arabia late last year as the danger approached – after his patron, a powerful Saudi prince, was arrested and a friend was arrested under suspicious circumstances Government died.
Jarba, a leading sheikh of a large tribe, traveled to the Jordanian capital Amman to meet relatives. But that was not enough. At the beginning of June, Jordanian guards surrounded his home and brought him in for questioning. He assured his family that he would be back soon.
Within days, however, he was driven to the border with Saudi Arabia and handed over to the Saudi authorities, reports two people familiar with the details of Jarba's compulsory repatriation, which has not yet been reported. No charges were filed against Jarba (45), and in the five months since his arrest, his family has not received any evidence that he is alive, people said.
The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul by a Saudi Arabian agent dispatched from Riyadh last month has led to a renewed review of the Kingdom's persecution of Saudi citizens abroad, from ordinary dissidents to defectors from the narrow Rows of the royal family. 1
To bring back the critics, the Saudi government has tried to lure them back or win friendly regional governments to arrest them or even conduct outrageous kidnappings in Europe. 19659007] Saudi citizens disappeared from hotel rooms, were torn from cars or had planes on which they were diverted. A Saudi dissident prince said in a court case that he had injected himself in the neck and flew with a private jet from Geneva to Saudi Arabia. Years later, after he had managed to leave the kingdom, he disappeared again and has not been heard since.
"We know they can kill you; You can destroy or use your family against you, "said a Saudi women's rights activist who applied for asylum in the United States last year. "It has always been like this," she said, adding that Muhammad's aggressive persecution of critics has further unsettled an already paranoid community of Saudi Arabian emigrants.
A Saudi Arabian government office did not respond immediately to an e-mail requesting a commentary on the abductions.
Jarba was not a dissident, but he was wanted for his association with a branch of the royal family that had fallen out of favor with the Saudi leadership, the two persons who are familiar with the circumstances of his imprisonment.
He was a longtime friend and confidant of Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a son of the late King Abdullah. Turki was arrested last November when Saudi Arabian authorities arrested hundreds of people, including members of the royal family, businessmen and government officials, in an anti-corruption campaign.
Although Jarba's friends and relatives had no contact with him, they were able to put together some of the details of his trip after he was detained in the upscale district of Abdoun in Amman. After his arrest, Jarba was briefly held at the Saudi Embassy in Amman before being taken to the border. Once in Saudi Arabia, he spent several weeks in Jiddah, which serves as the government's capital during the summer months. At some point he was taken to Turkis house and asked to open safe vaults inside. There were conflicting reports about Jarba's ability to do so.
Jarba had assumed that he would be safe in Amman, the two said, in part because he was a sheikh in a large tribe, the Shammar, who maintained strong relations with the Jordanian monarchy.
A spokeswoman for the Jordanian government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Jarba's case.
But Jordanian officials later told the Jarbas family that, according to him, they had not been able to stop his kidnapping by informing people about Jarbas case.
"This is bigger than us," the Jordanian authorities reportedly said.
Saudi Arabia's first government-sponsored withdrawal came on December 22, 1979, when the country's first major opposition figure, Nasser al-Saeed, disappeared from Beirut. He had fled the country after spending some time in prison to organize workers' strikes and uprisings. He continued his criticism in exile and praised the capture of the Great Mosque in Mecca in 1979 by militants as a popular uprising.
Following his disappearance, Saudi Arabia, then ruled by King Khalid bin Abdulaziz, said that reports that Saeed was kidnapped and returned to Saudi Arabia on a private jet are unfounded. It described Saeed as "insignificant".
While many who disappear will not be heard again by others, a victim, Prince Sultan bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, a grandson of the Saudi Arabian founder, was able to make his abduction public and file a criminal case in 2014 in a Geneva court Saudi Arabian officials.
The complaint contained details of a courageous kidnapping in 2003 during the reign of King Fahd, naming the son of the king, Abdulaziz bin Fahd, and the Minister of Islamic Affairs. Saleh bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh as a participant in the conspiracy.
Sultan, whom friends refer to as the larger-than-life character – the kind of man who would order strawberry pie in the middle of the night – had been in Geneva for medical treatment. Abroad, he had publicly criticized the kingdom, calling for economic reform and highlighting human rights issues.
"He was warned to stop and said he should come back and everything would be fine," said Clyde Bergstresser, a Boston-based attorney detained by the prince. However, Sultan refused to return, and the king's son and ministers were sent to convince him.
Sultan was invited to a residence of King Fahd on the outskirts of Geneva, whereupon the Prince later recalled in interviews with Arab satellite television stations.
He arrived with his German security forces, who later said that they saw Sultan with a cousin at the swimming pool before the two men went to the library without the guards. A short time later, five masked men arrived.
"He was thrown to the ground and injected with an anesthetic into the neck and intubated," said Bergstresser.
Sultan's security personnel were told that he had decided to return voluntarily to the Kingdom.
Seven Years While Sultan said he was mostly held under house arrest, jail or hospital, he was allowed to leave Saudi Arabia after suffering severe respiratory illness. He flew to Boston for medical treatment and later filed his lawsuit. However, on January 31, 2016, he made the mistake of boarding a Saudi plane organized by the Embassy in Paris after his father invited him to Cairo.
The monitors of the aircraft, which showed the flight route of the aircraft to Cairo, were suddenly dark, according to Bergstresser. And the plane landed in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. "He was forcibly taken off the plane, screaming and screaming. I have not heard from him since then, "Bergstresser said. He added that members of the prince's retinue were detained for several days and then released.
Around the same time, two other European-based princes disappeared. The cases were first reported by the BBC last year.
Prince Turki bin Bandar, known for his brave tirades against the Saudi royal family, including murder charges, disappeared in 2015 after fleeing and residing in Saudi Arabia after a land dispute.
Another small king, Saud bin Saif al-Nasr, also disappeared after calling for reforms in the kingdom and publicly supporting a letter from an anonymous Saudi king, which was widespread in 2015 and called for regime change. He was persuaded to take a private plane to Italy, which he thought was a business trip, but has not been heard since, the BBC reported.
In an interview with Russian news website Sputnik last year, Prince Turki al Faisal, a high-ranking king who heads the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, dismissed the cases of "so-called princes" and said it Interpol communications were issued for their arrests.
"We do not like to publish these things because we think they are our domestic business," he said. "Of course, there were people who worked to bring them back. You are here; they have not disappeared They see their families.
The Moroccan government recently said it has handed Prince Turki bin Bandar to Saudi Arabia to comply with an interpol warrant.
However, Interpol said in a statement that it had not issued any notice to him or to the princes Saud and Sultan.
Like Khashoggi, who lived in Virginia, many dissident exiles are fleeing as far as possible from the Middle East, fearing that Saudi Arabia's allies might turn them over.
In an interview with the Washington Post several months before his Khashoggi talked about the case of Loujain al-Hathloul, a Saudi women's rights activist who was arrested in March while driving in Abu Dhabi where she had studied, and returned to Saudi Arabia back. Several months later, she was arrested, detained, and branded as a traitor in the state media.
When Hathloul was charged in Abu Dhabi, her husband Fahad Albutairi, a stand-up comedian, was abducted from his hotel room in Jordan and returned to Saudi Arabia, according to data from two individuals with knowledge of the incident.
"It's intimidation," Khashoggi said. "Teach these people a lesson that scares people."