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Saturday, February 3, 2007

Brother: Khalifa Killed By Intelligence Service

Mohammed Jamal Khalifa's brother has changed his tune and now charges that the Saudi businessman was killed by a state-sponsored intelligence service.

Khalifa is Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law. As I noted in my story about his death earlier this week, he was killed by an armed band of 20 to 30 men, which sounds suspiciously like a "snatch-and-grab" rendition gone wrong.

Although there is no direct evidence to support Malek Khalifa's allegation at this time, the United States is by far the most likely candidate to have staged such an operation, and Khalifa was an obvious target. He was well known to the U.S. government, which had him in 1994 and let him get away. A rendition may have been intended to rectify that mistake. If it wasn't the U.S., the Philippines would be the next most likely possibility.

If the U.S. was behind the assault, there will likely be ramifications with the Saudi government. Khalifa was a member of a prominent family. He had broad ties to the Saudi royal family and was welcomed back to his homeland by Saudi officials in 1995, according to the writings of Michael Scheuer, the CIA's former bin Laden unit chief. Although Khalifa was detained after September 11, he was released six months later and lived openly in Jeddah, where he ran a seafood restaurant.

Keep an eye on this story. It's going to get a lot more interesting before it's over.

UPDATE: On the other hand, maybe the Saudis did it. News from the Kingdom today indicates that 10 people have been arrested for terrorist financing of the sort Khalifa specialized in. Nine of the 10 came from Jeddah, Khalifa's home base. Were these names in Khalifa's stolen briefcase? Curious and curiouser...


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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