The CIA warned an Arab activist in Norway that he faces a potential threat from Saudi Arabia, Norwegian Media reported Tuesday.
“Something crazy – concerning my personal safety – happened two weeks ago which I haven’t been at liberty to speak about, but is breaking today. The last two weeks have been very stressful, but I hope I’ve managed well given the pressure” Iyad el-Baghdadi wrote on Twitter.
U.S. intelligence contacted Norwegian authorities April 25 regarding the potential threat to el-Baghdadi‘s life from Saudi Arabia. He was taken by authorities to a secure location where he was warned of threat.
“The way I understood it was, the Saudis have a crosshairs on me, but there is no idea of what they are going to do,” el-Baghdadi told the Guardian newspaper.
“They assured me that they are taking it very seriously. They came prepared,” he said, explaining that a police squad transferred him to the safe location and another briefed him on the situation.
El-Bahdadi is a Palestinian-born writer and a pro-democracy activist who has been a vocal critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He was granted political asylum in Norway in 2015 after being arrested and expelled from the United Arab Emirates.
The pro-democracy campaigner is active on Twitter and has gained a large following because of his satirical and abrupt analysis on Middle Eastern governments, including the Saudi royal family and political issues in the region.
Following the murder last fall of Jamal Kashoggi, a Saudi journalist working for the Washington Post, el-Baghdadi warned that bin Salman would become more dangerous if he was not held to account by the West.
“If they get away with kidnapping the next step will be assassinations in your capitals, and I’m not joking even a little bit,” he said on Twitter.
The outspoken activist further warned that bin Salman is still seeking to silence critics of the Saudi government outside the kingdom and the rising number of educated Saudis who are politically active and living outside the kingdom “is shaping up to be a long-term problem for MBS,” using the prince’s initials.
News of a threat comes months after Kashoggi’s torture and murder inside the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul last October. The high profile murder caused international outrage and saw widespread condemnation of bin Salman.
Following the murder, the CIA fingered bin Salman as being behind the order to kill the Washington Post journalist who was also a U.S. resident.
Despite the evidence, however, the U.S. administration of Donald Trump denied bin Salman’s role in the murder and continues to support the crown prince.