The Daily Mail is breaking what may turn out to be extraordinary story involving American Blackwater mercenaries hired by Saudi rogue dictator-prince Mohammed bin Salman to torture Saudi billionaires rounded up by bin Salman, in what has become a purge unlike anything seen in recent decades.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must be worried that some of the royals rounded up during his “corruption crackdown” cash grab are holding out on him. Because the Saudi prince has reportedly hired a crew of American mercenaries who haven’t hesitated to employ an array of “enhanced interrogation” techniques.
As the Daily Mail reports, mercenaries purportedly employed by Academi, a successor to infamous US security contractor Blackwater, have been stringing up some of MBS’s “guests” at the Riyadh Ritz Carlton by their feet and savagely beating them during interrogations. The claims have spread rapidly on Arabic-language social media, and even Lebanon’s president Michel Aoun has accused MbS of using mercenaries. Still, the Daily Mail isn’t the most reputable news organization, so these reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
Here is a summary of the Daily Mail report…
Source in Saudi Arabia says American private security contractors are carrying out ‘interrogations’ on princes and billionaires arrested in crackdown.
Detained members of Saudi elite have been hung by their feet and beaten by interrogates, source says.
Among those hung upside down are Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an investor worth at least $7 billion who is being held at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton.
Arrests were ordered three weeks ago by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Source claims mercenaries are from ‘Blackwater’, a claim also made by Lebanese president.
But its successor firm denies it has any operations in Saudi Arabia whatsoever and says its staff abide by U.S. law.
Americans who commit torture abroad can be jailed for up to 20 years.
Via The Daily Mail..
The group of the country’s most powerful figures were arrested in a crackdown ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman three weeks ago as he ordered the detention of at least 11 fellow princes and hundreds of businessmen and government officials over claims of corruption.
Just last month, the Crown Prince vowed to restore ‘moderate, open Islam’ in the kingdom and relaxed a number of its ultra-conservative rules, including lifting a ban on women driving.
DailyMail.com can disclose that the arrests have been followed by ‘interrogations’ which a source said were being carried out by ‘American mercenaries’ brought in to work for the 32-year-old crown prince, who is now the kingdom’s most powerful figure.
‘They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them, insulting them. They want to break them down,’ the source told DailyMail.com.
‘Blackwater’ has been named by DailyMail.com’s source as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon’s president.
The firm’s successor, Academi, strongly denies even being in Saudi Arabia and says it does not engage in torture, which it is illegal for any U.S. citizen to commit anywhere in the world.
The Saudi crown prince, according to the source, has also confiscated more than $194 billion from the bank accounts and seized assets of those arrested.
Prince Mohammed has bypassed the normal security forces in keeping the princes and other billionaires at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
According to Zerohedge, Saudi soldiers might balk at torturing powerful men like Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whom they’ve been saluting their entire lives. According to the Mail, Talal, who is (or was, until recently) one of the richest men in the world, has also been hung upside down and beaten
‘All the guards in charge are private security because MBS (Mohammed Bin Salman) doesn’t want Saudi officers there who have been saluting those detainees all their lives,’ said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
‘Outside the hotels where they are being detained you see the armored vehicles of the Saudi special forces. But inside, it’s a private security company.
‘They’ve transferred all the guys from Abu Dhabi. Now they are in charge of everything,’ said the source.
The source said that Salman, often referred to by his initials MBS, is conducting some of the interrogations himself.
‘When it’s something big he asks them questions,’ the source said.
‘He speaks to them very nicely in the interrogation, and then he leaves the room, and the mercenaries go in. The prisoners are slapped, insulted, hung up, tortured.’
The source says the crown prince is desperate to assert his authority through fear and wants to uncover an alleged network of foreign officials who have taken bribes from Saudi princes.
The source said that the name ‘Blackwater’ is being circulated as providing the mercenaries.
The controversial private security company, however, no longer exists under that name and is now Academi.
A spokesperson for Constellis, Academi’s parent company, denied the claims.
A high-profile Saudi twitter account, @Ahdjadid, appears to think otherwise, posting what is said to be inside information, claimed the Saudi Crown Prince has brought in at least 150 ‘Blackwater’ guards. Ahdjadid tweeted…
‘The first group of Blackwater mercenaries arrived in Saudi Arabia a week after the toppling of bin Nayef [Salman’s predecessor as crown prince].
‘They were around 150 fighters. Bin Salman sent some of them to secure bin Nayef’s place of detention and the rest he used for his own protection.’
Abuse claims were recently highlighted in an article in the New York Times, as a doctor at a hospital in Riyadh and a US official told the NYT that as many as 17 detainees had needed medical treatment.
But Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told the newspaper that the arrests were for ‘white collar’ crimes and that the country’s public prosecutor was ensuring that the arrests are ‘complying with the relevant laws and regulations’.
Among those arrested on allegations of corruption is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi King’s nephew who is worth more than $17bn according to Forbes, and owns stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup.
DailyMail.com’s source claims the crown prince lulled Alwaleed into a false sense of security, inviting him to a meeting at his Al Yamamah palace, then sent officers to arrest him the night before the meeting.
‘Suddenly at 2.45am all his guards were disarmed, the royal guards of MBS storm in,’ said the source.
‘He’s dragged from his own bedroom in his pajamas, handcuffed, put in the back of an SUV, and interrogated like a criminal.
‘They hung them upside down, just to send a message.
‘They told them that “we’ve made your charges public, the world knows that you’ve been arrested on these charges.”‘
After the arrests, a picture was given to DailyMail.com of the Saudi royals sleeping on thin mattresses in the ballroom of the five star Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.
A US State Department source told the New York Times Salman was ‘behaving recklessly without sufficient consideration to the likely consequences of his behavior, and that has the potential to damage US interests.’
However, the arrests drew praise from President Donald Trump, who tweeted that he had ‘great confidence in King Salman and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia’ after the corruption crackdown earlier this month.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.