London [UK]: Slain Journalist Jamal Khashoggi had labelled Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman a “beast” and a “pac-man” adding that “the more victims he eats, the more he wants”.
The revelation was made in over 400 WhatsApp messages Khashoggi had sent to a Canada-based activist and fellow Saudi exile Omar Abdulaziz in the year prior to his killing. CNN was granted exclusive access to the messages.
“Arrests are unjustified and do not serve him (logic says), but tyranny has no logic, but he loves force, oppression and needs to show them off. He is like a beast ‘pac man’ the more victims he eats, the more he wants. I will not be surprised that the oppression will reach even those who are cheering him, then others and others and so on. God knows,” the former Washington Post scribe said in one message to Abdulaziz.
Speaking to CNN, Abdulaziz said that Jamal believed bin Salman, commonly referred to as MBS, was the problem. “MBS is the issue, is the problem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdulaziz said.
After a number of their conversations were believed to have been intercepted by Saudi officials in August this year, Khashoggi wrote, “God help us” and two months later, he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
On Sunday, Abdulaziz pursued legal action against an Israel-based company that created the military-grade spyware he believes was used by Saudi to hack his phone.
According to Bill Marczak, a research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, the software was invented by the NSO group and was used on Abdulaziz’s phone following directions from the Saudi government.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say. The guilt is killing me,” the Montreal-based activist said.
The messages revealed that the two had initiated plans to start an online movement, hoping to rope in the Saudi youth and disparage the government’s propaganda on social media.
Abdulaziz said that their, and the Saudi government’s, greatest weapon was Twitter.
“We have no parliament; we just have Twitter. Twitter is the only tool they’re (Saudi) using to fight and to spread their rumours. We’ve been attacked, we’ve been insulted, we’d been threatened so many times, and we decided to do something,” Abdulaziz said.
Khashoggi and Abdulaziz planned to get foreign sim cards into the country, allowing the “cyber bees” to tweet without being traced, and raise money. Abdulaziz said that Khashoggi had committed an initial USD 30, 000 and planned to raise more from donors.
“Once they heard about the bees, they were really worried and disturbed, the officials. They arrested a lot of people and raided many places. I bore the brunt of having the group and communication. I’m glad you’re abroad and you are safe,” Abdulaziz wrote to Khashoggi following the interception of their messages by Saudi in August.
Abdulaziz also mentioned that two Saudi emissaries, who claimed to have been sent by MBS, had sought to meet him in Montreal in May. The two men, referred to as Malek and Abdullah, said that bin Salman watches him on Twitter and wants to offer him a job.
Abdulaziz recorded over ten hours of their conversations. These recordings are a crucial development in the narrative so far as Saudi Arabia has maintained over the course of the two months since Khashoggi’s murder that their Prince had no connections with the plot for the same.
The two men asked Abdulaziz to meet at the Saudi embassy in order for the latter to collect some documents. Abdulaziz further stated that Khashoggi adviced him to not go there, an advice he believes saved his life. “He told me not to go and only to meet them in public places,” he said.
However, Khashoggi did not follow his own advice on October 2. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to collect documents for his marriage to fiancee Hatice Cengiz, never to be seen again.