Murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s flux of words against Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman remained prudent in public, but not behind the scenes. CNN, recently, released a thread of over 400 messages that Khashoggi exchanged with Omar Abdulaziz, an exiled Saudi activist in Canada.
Before he was killed at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, the Washington Post columnist sent Whatsapp messages to Abdulaziz, describing MBS as a “pac-man” who would devour all in his path, even his supporters.
Omar Abdulaziz let his conversation with Khashoggi be known, which included voice recordings, photos and videos.
“The more victims he eats, the more he wants,” wrote Khashoggi in a message sent in May, after a group of Saudi activists got detained.
Jamal insisted on putting plans into actions, and the two started planning an online youth movement that would liberate Saudi’s suppressed voices.
SIM Cards, Money and Electronic Army
The messages exchanged between October 2017 and August 2018 suggest that Khashoggi and Abdulaziz were planning to form an electronic army, uniting the efforts of Saudi’s youth to expose state propaganda on social media.
Their digital offensive, through cyber bees, was intended to build a portal for exposing Saudi Arabia’s crackdown on dissidents along with short movies for mobile distribution.
According to Abdulaziz, the dissidents in Saudi have no parliament, they just have Twitter to protest against the regime, which is also the Saudi government’s strongest weapon.
Twitter is the only tool that Saudi government is using to fight and spread rumors to counter the dissidents. People who are bold enough to raise their voices are out-and-out attacked, insulted, and threatened till they finally give up.
Saudi Arabia could have seen the conspiracy of Omar and Khashoggi as a threat. Together, they planned to build a covert electronic army that would highlight the sins of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It involved supplying foreign SIM cards to the dissidents so they could tweet anomalously, without coming under the radar.
Omar Abdulaziz claimed that Khashoggi committed an initial funding of $30,000 and promised more in due course to enforce the project.
Hacking: Saudi’s cryptic weapon
It all came crashing down when, in August, Abdulaziz found that his phone was under surveillance, and their messages were being monitored.
“God help us,” Khashoggi wrote after learning about the hack.
The hacked messages brought Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi crown prince MBS’ sight. Two months later, he was brutally murdered and dismembered in Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul by the Saudi hit-squad.
Omar Abdulaziz has filed a lawsuit in Tel Aviv against the NSO Group, an Israel-based company, which developed the software to hack his phone.
Abdulaziz said, “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.”