Why Does Saudi Arabia Want to Arrest One of Its Princes?

Morocco arrested a Saudi prince as he was attempting to leave Casablanca’s airport and fly to Paris on Thursday. The report on the arrest does not explain why he was arrested — unlike the Saudi prince arrested in the US in September for sexual assault or the Saudi prince arrested in Lebanon in October for having 2 tons of amphetamines in his private plane. Nor does it provide his name (again, unlike those other reports).

But it does say he was arrested on an Interpol warrant issued by Riyadh.

A prince from Saudi Arabia was arrested by Moroccan authorities at Mohammed V Airport in Casablanca on Thursday and placed in custody at the prison of Salé, according to Moroccan daily Al Massae’s weekend edition.

The Saudi prince was about to board a Casablanca-Paris flight when border police discovered that his identity matched that of a man wanted by Interpol office in Saudi Arabia for whom an international arrest warrant had been issued.

It’s unusual that Saudi Arabia arrests a member of the royal family, and when I read it I wondered whether it might be tied to recent calls for a coup. I think that’s still a possibility.

Equally likely, it relates to that massive drug bust in Lebanon last month. That would be interesting because that bust involved Captagon, a drug closely tied to ISIS.

They were allegedly “attempting to smuggle about two tons of Captagon pills and some cocaine”, a security source was quoted as saying.

Captagon is a brand name for the widely used amphetamine phenethylline.

[snip]

It is the drug of choice for front-line fighters on both sides in the Syrian war, allowing a heightened state of alertness.

It is unclear where the pills allegedly found in Beirut were ultimately to be sold, although the plane was said to be heading back to Saudi Arabia.

In any case, I don’t have any theory on this arrest right now, but in retrospect wanted to note the arrest here.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

19 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    speed! they’re doin’ speed. damn. i wouldn’t want to be on either frontline in one those firefights.

    more seriously, it occurred to me this weekend as events unfolded in paris that the paris attack may be a sign of isil desperation or at least of isil feeling increased pressure from military and leadership losses. the obama squeeze may be working.

    then there was that photo of obama and putin leaning in to talk over a table in turkey. i bet they weren’t talking about whether it was snowing in moscow.

    and now a saudi prince is arrested with possible ties to isil’s secret motivational tool.

    could there also be a connection to the bombing of the russian plane? if there is, chief inspector ew will be among the very first to pick up the clue.

    • lefty665 says:

      “it occurred to me this weekend as events unfolded in paris that the paris attack may be a sign of isil desperation or at least of isil feeling increased pressure from military and leadership losses. the obama squeeze may be working. ”
      .
      Hi Orion, it’s nice that you’ve held onto your dreams. But they’re more nightmare and fantasy.
      .
      You might try thinking of Paris and the Russian airliner as ISIL expanding the battlefield. You sound a lot like Rumsfeld and his last throes of dead-enders comments (June ’03).
      .
      The “Obama squeeze” has been to mostly lay off ISIL and support/equip “moderate terrorists” (what a concept) to topple Assad. Putin publicly shamed Obama into destroying a few ISIL oil tankers the other day, so maybe there’s hope; but not much until we quit arming KSA and start targeting the Wahhabis.
      .
      At some point you’d think we’d wake up and renounce the complete destabilization the NeoCon Project for the New American Century, and their NeoLib fellow travelers have achieved in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and attempted in Syria. That change won’t happen under Obama, HRC or the Repubs. There is no change in sight, not even in our dreams.

      • orionATL says:

        good to see a comment from you lefty.

        but,

        i will have to say, you are an arrogant knucklehead:

        “Hi Orion, it’s nice that you’ve held onto your dreams. But they’re more nightmare and fantasy.”

        my comments are at least, repeat at least, as well-founded as yours

        which is to say we both comment as non-experts who like to express our opinions, despite lack of specific info it would be better if we knew.

        have a nice day :))

      • orionATL says:

        let me try, instead, the emptywheel approach to a comment like yours – which is just to restate facts as known and/or to add arguments to what one has written, while avoiding pejoratives entirely.

        my thought is that no sensible war planners would whack a hornets’ nest as the isil attack on paris did unless they were desperate. there should be no rational expectation about outcomes other than increased french resistance (despite long-lived jokes about french cowardice) and possible increased international co-operation from multiple governments who do not normally sync their war communications. muslim religious-based (overtly at least) military aggression threatens a lot of states around the world from jordan and egypt to the soviet union to the euro-american democracies.

        is it smart to provide a reason for all those governments to want co-operate in kicking your ass?

        that may be happening.

        isil was always a pr game – 90% hot air + 8% big money and weaponry from somewhere (where might that be?) + 2% angry sadam ex-military.

        • orionATL says:

          ah, my formula requires amending – .05% deluded young sociopaths.

          (their sociopathic elders are safely ensconsed in normal political activity.)

      • RexFlex says:

        I think if you look at the recent appearances of Michel Chertoff and Charles Allen on the cable news show and listen very carefully to what they are saying it seems to me this is the newer slicker version of the PNAC.,
        I found it interesting both MSNBC, Morning Joe show where Charles Allen appeared after his editorial came out and His Honor appeared on Fareed Z’s show, neither network mentioned the gentlemen’s association with the CG.

  2. Mick Savage says:

    Been following mideast news since the 70s when family was working for ksa.
    The king then got killed by a nephew(?) who was promptly separated from his head. A princess was executed because of an illicit affair – the princess had to watch her lover get separated from head and then she was shot cuz princess.
    Ton of other examples of what a loving family the kingdom supports.
    Goofiest aspect of head to foot coverings for the women was the moment the commercial airliner reached 10000 feet and way to Bahrain they were no longer in ksa and started unrobing – wearing the latest designer clothing and footwear under their robes. Let the drinking and smoking begin…

  3. orionATL says:

    i like this quote a lot and have a lot of regard for its author’s contributions – u.s. army general william odom, former director of the national security agency:

    [… Terrorism is not an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It’s a tactic. It’s about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we’re going to win that war. We’re not going to win the war on terrorism. And it does whip up fear. Acts of terror have never brought down liberal democracies. Acts of parliament have closed a few… ]

    http://fair.org/media-beat-column/terrorism-8220the-war-on-terror8221-and-the-message-of-carnage/

    • lefty665 says:

      Sigh, you so quickly sink to ad hominem attacks. Your dreams (not to be confused with your self) are as naive as Rummy’s.
      .
      Asymmetric warfare is a tactic used against nation states by those who are not. That was demonstrated domestically on 9/11. Bin Laden predicted then that we would destroy ourselves with our over reaction. Subsequent events have proven him largely correct, although there is still time to change course. It is possible ISIL leadership subscribes to Bin Laden’s view and is helping the French along the same path.
      .
      For more than a decade we have been killing civilians in the middle east, more than a million by any rational count. Some of the children of those murders will not be willing to forgive or to forget their dead and maimed parents, family, friends and neighbors. We can expect to see more asymmetric attacks like Paris and the Russian airliner in coming years. The last gasp of dead enders? Not a chance. We have indeed been creating enemies far faster than we can kill them. Although mostly Muslim, some will embrace that Radical Christian “eye for an eye” stuff.
      .
      At Tora Bora in December 2001, 90 days after 9/11, we could have killed Bin Laden and all of Al Qaeda, declared victory and come home. The world was ready to celebrate the defeat of evil with us. But we chose not to do that, and instead followed the NeoCon/NeoLib dream of sowing death and chaos across the middle east. Among our 2016 candidates there are only a few glimmers (Sanders, Paul and Trump-go figure) that our GWOT has been the largest, longest and most profound blunder in US history.
      .
      To put us even further through the looking glass, with Obama’s “squeeze”, that you appear to admire, we have been training, arming and supporting terrorists along with our allies the Saudis, UAE, Qatar, Israel and Jordan. We seem not to have learned that the failed states we have created like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen only breed more terrorists.
      .
      We can only hope that the arrest that was the original topic of this posting is an indication that the Saudis have changed their policies. Perhaps recent conversations with Putin have encouraged the KSA to switch from exporting terrorists and terrorism to defeating it. The Russians are earnest about killing terrorists, and cruise missiles can reach Riyadh too.

  4. bloopie2 says:

    I noticed that Hollande is a liar (imagine that, a head of state who lies to his own people). He said that “ISIS has declared war on France”. Well, that is a lie. France started bombing ISIS, before any attacks on France. So, it was France that declared war on ISIS, not the other way around. Typical politician, trying to gin up support.

  5. orionATL says:

    an “ad hominem attack”?

    why lefty, i never expected a flaming liberal like you to adopt the standard rightwing whine of “ad hominem attack”.

    – calling an arrogant knucklehead an arrogant knuclehead is descriptive, lefty.

    – you clearly have no idea how to use the term ad hominem properly.
    withvregard to argumentation.

    :)

    • orionATL says:

      as for the term “asymmetric warfare”, it is surely one of the dumbest terms our recent cadre of generals has added to the lexicon of warfare.

      you may recall some beribboned military knucklehead referred to hunger strikers in guantanamo as practicing “asymmetric warfare”.

      as best i can tell from its shifting meaning, the term is mostly used by the american military to justify treating anyone whom they deem the enemy in any way they choose, e.g., torture, and then asserting those they targeted were practicing “asymmetric warfare”.

      :)

    • lefty665 says:

      Tsk, tsk, off your meds again Orion? Take your pills then maybe we can have a rational discussion.
      .
      Until then you might try reading this posting “Falling into the ISIS trap” at https://consortiumnews.com/ Like EW and the crew here, Robert Parry and the rest of those folks are very good, very often. There are always worthwhile posts there. I bookmark them right next to Emptywheel.
      .
      Sweet dreams.

  6. scribe says:

    In case you might have been wondering (between the juvenile ad hominem mudslinging) just how much speed was seized in that Lebanon bust, I can give you an idea. The German media reported it [first, as usual] and noted that there were 40 suitcases full of speed tablets, some 15 million (or so) tablets in all. Street price, about $300 million.
    .
    And for fun after the battle, there was also cocaine in the plane. Undisclosed commercial quantities.

    • orionATL says:

      well, i guess if you’re forbidden from enjoying a spot of champagne after a battle with the godless present, then you’ll just have to make do with a snort or two of coke.

      seems like we have a new measure of pleasure importation:

      40 tons of maryjane
      40 kilos of coke

      40 suitcases of speed.

  7. wayoutwest says:

    It’s hilarious reading some comments and viewing the handwringing from Amerikans, probably the most drugged up society on the planet, including our military, about drug crazed Jihadists who pop a stimulant to stay alert during battle.

    I guess it does help to visualize the enemy as someone resembling the wild eyed tweaker seen wandering many US urban areas not as steely eyed warriors ready and capable of inflicting deadly damage on anyone, including Western forces, whom they target.

    Scribe’s account of the quantity of pills seized in Beirut seems accurate but the value calculation seems inflated, $20 per pill?

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