Saudi-born controversial journalist Jamal Khashoggi was funding an “electronic army” to fight with Saudi state propaganda while describing Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman as a “beast,” according to his private Whatsapp messages published by CNN International.
On December 3, 2018, CNN reported that it has been granted exclusive access to the correspondence between Khashoggi and Montreal-based activist Omar Abdulaziz, before the journalist died on October 2, 2018.
The 400 Whatsapp messages shared by Abdulaziz, which include voice recordings, photos, and videos, paint a picture of a man being extremely vindictive.
But in August 2018 Khashoggi sensed that his WhatsApp conversations might have been intercepted.
Abdulaziz on December 2, 2018, launched a lawsuit against NSO Group, an Israeli company that invented the software he believes was used to hack his phone.
“The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say,” Abdelaziz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me”.
The pair’s scheme, dubbed “cyber bees,” involved two key elements that Saudi Arabia might well have viewed as hostile acts. The first involved sending foreign SIM cards to dissidents back home so they could tweet without being traced. The second was money. According to Abdulaziz, Khashoggi pledged an initial $30,000 and promised to drum up support from rich donors under the radar.
“The more victims he eats, the more he wants,” says Khashoggi in one message sent in May, just after a group of Saudi activists had been rounded up. “I will not be surprised if the oppression will reach even those who are cheering him on.”
The exchanges reveal a progression from talk to action — the pair had begun planning an online youth movement that would hold the Saudi state to account. “[Jamal] believed that MBS is the issue, is the problem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdulaziz said in an interview with CNN.
According to the report, in almost daily exchanges between October 2017 and August 2018, Khashoggi and Abdulaziz conceived plans to form an electronic army to engage young Saudis back home and debunk state propaganda on social media, leveraging Khashoggi’s establishment profile and the 27-year-old Abdulaziz’s 340,000-strong Twitter following.
What people are yet to know is, Jamal Khashoggi was hired jointly by Iran and Turkey to launch a cyber movement against the rulers, which would be followed by a series of cyber attacks. They also were about to launch another project, through which they planned to recruit young Saudis as suicide attackers.
On June 22, 2019, this newspaper has already exposed Jamal Khashoggi in a report titled ‘Unethical propaganda against the Saudi Crown Prince’.