FBI finds Saudis ‘almost certainly’ helps their citizens escape prosecution in US for serious crimes10 min read

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A new bulletin from the FBI has revealed that the Saudi government ‘almost certainly’ helped its citizens escape prosecution for serious crimes they were charged with in the US, and American officials looked the other way for years. 

The secret effort was carried out to spare the Persian Gulf kingdom embarrassment, while US officials looked the other way for years, and will likely continue without their intervention, the FBI said in the bulletin released Friday.

The revelation comes after President Donald Trump signed into law a requirement backed by Representative Ron Wyden of Oregon that the FBI disclose what it knows about the Saudi government’s suspected role in helping its citizens avoid prosecution in the US.

Oregon Congressman Ron Wyden on Capitol Hill in May 2019. Wyden backed a requirement that the FBI disclose what it knows about the Saudi government’s suspected role in helping its citizens avoid prosecution in the US

Oregon Congressman Ron Wyden on Capitol Hill in May 2019. Wyden backed a requirement that the FBI disclose what it knows about the Saudi government’s suspected role in helping its citizens avoid prosecution in the US

The Saudi government (file art) was found to have  'almost certainly' helped its citizens escape prosecution for serious crimes they were charged with in the US, and American officials looked the other way for years

The Saudi government (file art) was found to have  ‘almost certainly’ helped its citizens escape prosecution for serious crimes they were charged with in the US, and American officials looked the other way for years

‘(Saudi) officials are unlikely to alter this practice in the near term unless the US Government (USG) directly addresses this issue with (Saudi Arabia) and ties US cooperation on (Saudi) priorities to ceasing this activity,’ according to the FBI, reports The Oregonian.

The details are contained in an intelligence bulletin dated August 29, which was released with Friday’s bulletin, the news outlet reports.

Details on how the Saudis were getting their nationals out of the US were not included in the report. The scope and frequency of how often Saudi citizens were escaping justice also was not released.

However, it is the first time a federal law enforcement agency acknowledged the secret practice, which isn’t so uncommon with wealthy nations seeking to quash alleged misdeeds by its nationals abroad.

While allies, the US and Saudi Arabia do not have an extradition treaty, making it difficult and unlikely that a Saudi national charged with a crime in the US would be released without diplomatic or political pressure. 

Among those believed to have benefited is a Saudi Arabian student wanted for killing a 15-year-old girl in Oregon almost four years ago.

Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, 21, was due to stand trial in Portland in June 2017, but vanished nine days before the start date.

He was on bail on a single count of manslaughter for allegedly killing Fallon Smart by running her over as she crossed the road on August 19, 2016.

Noorah, who was studying on a scholarship at Portland Community College, was driving on a suspended license at the time.

Despite Fallon’s families’ pleas to deny him bail, it was set at $1million and a tenth, $100,000, was paid by the Saudi Arabian embassy in Los Angeles, triggering his release.

The conditions of his release stated that he had to remain under house arrest and wear an electronic ankle bracelet until his court date.

Nine days before his trial was due to start, however, police discovered that the bracelet had been removed and were unable to find him. As part of his bail conditions, Noorah was forced to surrender his passport.

Noorah was on bail on a single count of manslaughter for allegedly killing Fallon Smart, 15 (pictured), by running her over as she crossed the road on August 19, 2016

Noorah was on bail on a single count of manslaughter for allegedly killing Fallon Smart, 15 (pictured), by running her over as she crossed the road on August 19, 2016

He was then later believed to have fled on a private jet with the help of his country’s consulate. He vanished after being picked up from his college campus in a black SUV.

Wyden said in a letter, first obtained by The Oregonian, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the acting attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, that a new theory had emerged from authorities who suspected Noorah used an illicit passport to fly home on a private jet provided by the Saudi consulate.

The Saudi government confirmed to US authorities that Noorah had returned to Saudi Arabia seven days after he went missing.

An investigation by The Oregonian revealed that four other Saudi students, who were studying in Oregon and facing similar circumstances to Noorah, had also fled the US in recent years.

All were young men studying at one of Oregon’s public colleges or universities with assistance from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Portland State University student Suliman Ali Algwaiz was arrested in August 2016 after he drunkenly struck a homeless man with his car.

He fled the scene but was later sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Algwaiz was serving his sentence on weekends, but vanished before completing the 90 days.

Waleed Ali Alharthi, who was an Oregon State University student, was found allegedly in possession of child porn in April of 2015.

Police said they found pornographic videos on his laptop involving children. He was arrested and booked on 10 counts of encouraging child sex abuse.

The consulate also put up the security deposit for his $500,000 bail.

Alharthi attended multiple court hearings related to his case but failed to attend a status check in April 2015.

Portland State University student Suliman Ali Algwaiz was arrested in August 2016 after he drunkenly struck a homeless man with his car

Waleed Ali Alharthi, who was an Oregon State University student, was found in possession of child porn in April 2015

Portland State University student Suliman Ali Algwaiz (left) was arrested in August 2016 after he drunkenly struck a homeless man with his car. Waleed Ali Alharthi (right), who was an Oregon State University student, was found in possession of child porn in April 2015

His lawyer told the court that she feared he was dead but authorities learned he had flown from Mexico City to Paris the week before.

In a similar case a few years prior, Abdulaziz Al Duways was arrested in December 2014 over the rape of a female classmate at Western Oregon University.

Arrest affidavits related to his case show that the alleged victim accused Al Duways of giving her marijuana and whiskey shots prior to the attack.

She called 911 during the alleged attack and when police arrived they found her crying in his bed.

Al Duways had allegedly told her: ‘Tell them I’m your girlfriend’ and ‘I’ll give you anything. I’ll do anything if you don’t tell them’.

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He was charged with rape and held on a $500,000 bond. Days later, a Saudi consulate official paid his bond and Al Duways vanished before he faced court.

In 2012, Oregon State University student Ali Hussain Alhamoud was charged with raping a young woman.

He was released on bail, which the Saudi government posted, and he flew back to Saudi Arabia that same day.

Abdulaziz Al Duways was arrested in December 2014 over the rape of a female classmate at Western Oregon University

Ali Hussain Alhamoud, an Oregon State University student, was charged with raping a young woman in 2012

Abdulaziz Al Duways (left) was arrested in December 2014 over the rape of a female classmate at Western Oregon University. In 2012, Oregon State University student Ali Hussain Alhamoud (right) was charged with raping a young woman

The first four cases were all represented by the same attorney, Ginger Mooney. She has represented at least nine Saudi students since 2014.

Mooney declined to comment in relation to the Oregonian investigation. Her attorney said any suggestion of unethical or improper conduct by her client was ‘completely unfounded’.

According to The Oregonian report, men from other places include Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi, of Nova Scotia, Canada.

He disappeared in December 2018 after being charged with sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman between 2015-17.

Sami Suliman Almezaini, of Gallatin County, Montana, is accused of raping his female roommate in July 2017, the same month he disappeared.

Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi disappeared in December 2018 after being charged with sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman between 2015-17.

Sami Suliman Almezaini is accused of raping his female roommate in July 2017, the same month he disappeared

Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi, (left) disappeared in December 2018 after being charged with sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman between 2015-17. Sami Suliman Almezaini, (right) is accused of raping his female roommate in July 2017, the same month he disappeared

Saud Alabdullatif, of Spokane County, Washington, disappeared in May 2016. He was charged with forcible second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment after he forced a woman to perform oral sex on him that month.

Faisal Altaleb, Gallatin County, Montana, disappeared November 2016, after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman he linked up with at a bar.

Monsour Alshammari, of Utah County, Utah, was charged with first-degree rape and obstruction of justice.

Hani Alshammary is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in April 2014. He was charged with attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct

Hani Alshammary is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in April 2014. He was charged with attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct

Fahad Al Ghuwainem disappeared in December 2014, two months after he allegedly raped a man with male accomplice after the three linked up at a gay bar.

Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies disappeared November 1988. In June 1988, he was accused of causing a fatal car crash that claimed the life of an elderly woman

Fahad Al Ghuwainem (left) disappeared in December 2014, two months after he allegedly raped a man with male accomplice after the three linked up at a gay bar. Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies (right) disappeared November 1988. In June 1988, he was accused of causing a fatal car crash that claimed the life of an elderly woman

Saudi Arabians who’ve gone missing

Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a 21-year-old Portland Community student, College, allegedly killed Fallon Smart, 15, by running her over as she crossed the road on August 19, 2016

Suliman Ali Algwaiz was arrested in August 2016 after he was allegedly to have drunkenly struck a homeless man with his car

Waleed Ali Alharthi, who was an Oregon State University student, was found in possession of child porn in April 2015

Abdulaziz Al Duways  was arrested in December 2014 over the alleged rape of a female classmate at Western Oregon University

Ali Hussain Alhamoud, an Oregon State University student, was charged with allegedly raping a young woman in 2012

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Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi disappeared in December 2018 after being charged with sexual assault, assault and forcible confinement of a woman between 2015-17

Sami Suliman Almezaini was accused of allegedly raping his female roommate in July 2017, the same month he disappeared 

Hani Alshammary is accused of allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in April 2014. He was charged with attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct 

 Saud Alabdullatif, of Spokane County, Washington, who disappeared in May 2016, was charged with forcible second-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment after he forced a woman to perform oral sex on him that month.

Faisal Altaleb, Gallatin County, Montana, disappeared November 2016, after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman he linked up with at a bar.

 Fahad Al Ghuwainem disappeared in December 2014, two months after he allegedly raped a man with male accomplice after the three linked up at a gay bar

Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies disappeared November 1988. In June 1988, he was accused of causing a fatal car crash that claimed the life of an elderly woman 

He is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in February 2015. He disappeared in April 2015 and was captured later that month.

Abdullah Almakrami, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, disappeared one month after he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman at his apartment in March 2014.

Hani Alshammary, of Erie County, Pennsylvania, is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in April 2014.

He was charged with attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct.

Fahad Al Ghuwainem, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, disappeared in December 2014, two months after he allegedly raped a man with male accomplice after the three linked up at a gay bar.

Taher Ali Al-Saba, of Nova Scotia, Canada, disappeared January 2007. He was charged with sexually assaulting two children the year prior.

Siraj Marakeey, of Snohomish County, Washington, disappeared July 1991. He was accused of first-degree rape for sexually assaulting a child in June 1991.

Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies, of Greene County, Ohio, disappeared November 1988. Another student has not been identified.

In June 1988, he was accused of causing a fatal car crash that claimed the life of an elderly woman.

When the case involving Noorah came to light in Oregon last year, Wyden urged the US government to investigate and to take action.

‘These are shocking claims in any event, but with the barbaric murder of US resident Jamal Khashoggi, they suggest a brazen pattern of disregard for the law and abuse of diplomatic privileges,’ Wyden wrote.

‘If they are accurate, they would require significant restrictions on Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic privileges and call into question the future of America’s bilateral relationship with the Saudis.’

The Oregonian is continually updating the findings of its investigation, here.

While there still remain several unknowns, officials with the US Department of Homeland Security and US Marshals Service are certain the Saudi government was involved in Noorah’s return home, the news outlet reports.

US officials learned only recently from the Saudis that Noorah arrived back home 18 months ago.

“We’re doing everything we can to get him back,” Eric Wahlstrom, a supervisory deputy U.S. marshal in Oregon told the Oregonian.

Prosecutors said they still hope to try Noorah in the death of Fallon Smart.