Twitter takes down account of Saud Al-Qahtani, MbS' former right-hand man, linked to Khashoggi murder

Twitter takes down account of Saud Al-Qahtani, MbS' former right-hand man, linked to Khashoggi murder
Saud Al-Qahtani's Twitter account has been suspended as the microblogging website targets accounts that are linked to perpetuating pro-Saudi propaganda.
2 min read
20 September, 2019

The Twitter account of Saudi torture mastermind and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's former right-hand man Saud al-Qahtani has been suspended.

Qahtani's account was noted as "inactive" on Friday morning by Twitter users under mysterious circumstances that came just weeks after he was rumoured to be dead.

Activists have for months been calling for Twitter to suspend his account after it was revealed to be behind the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Qahtani, a close aide of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was fired October last year when it was revealed he was closely involved in orchestrating Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consultate in Istanbul.

Analysts have described Qahtani as a "fall guy" in the plot, after Turkish and US intelligence linked the crown prince to the murder of the journalist.

Dubbed Saudi Arabia's Steve Bannon, he was responsible for finding Riyadh’s "online enemies" and coming up with a list of potential targets for Saudi intelligence.

In 2017 he called for a McCarthy-like blacklist to be compiled by Saudi Twitter users, of anyone showing sympathy for regional rival Qatar, under the Arabic hashtag #TheBlacklist and vowed to "follow" every name reported on this list.

Qahtani also tweeted that anyone who "conspires" against Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain - countries taking part in the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar - would go on "trial".

Anwar Gargash, the UAE's state minister for foreign affairs, was one of the first to express support for the blacklist.

"Saud al-Qahtani is an important voice ... and his tweet on the 'blacklist' is extremely important," he tweeted.

Shortly after Khashoggi's assassination, Twitter announced that it had removed accounts linked to Saudi "state-run media apparatus" and others in the UAE and Egypt that amplify pro-Saudi propaganda.

Local Arab media outlets have estimated that up to 267 accounts have been removed in the new clampdown by Twitter.