Former top Saudi intelligence official Prince Turki bin Faisal likened the current crown prince to a “psychopath” who bragged he could kill the current monarch King Salman in a private meeting in 2014, according to an ABC News exclusive.
The meeting between the prince and Prince Turki was part of a meeting with allies in the Muslim world at a summit in Turkey. At the time, Prince Turki was the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
After sharing Saudi grievances about Iran’s behavior in the region, the prince asked the Saudi envoy if he would come to Saudi Arabia with the purpose of convincing the king to do the same.
“It’s an impossible mission,” Prince Turki responded, according to ABC News. The U.S. ambassador then told him to “get a nuclear weapon,” the ABC News report says.
“Then I would not have to come back to you again,” Prince Turki reportedly said. “He will always have a bomb and you will never be able to convince him.”
Prince Turki revealed these explosive comments to ABC News just days after a Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeted a funeral hall in Yemen killing hundreds of people. The coalition is targeting Houthi rebels who are allied with Iran.
Prince Turki issued a statement on Twitter expressing his “deep sorrow” at the “martyrs” in Yemen, but denied any level of contact with Saudi leadership.
“This latest remarks must be regarded as remarks made during a private exchange between two individuals, rather than with Saudi, and the Kingdom neither condones nor participates in his stance,” the statement said.
In the ABC News report, Prince Turki also describes how he and other intelligence officials confronted the Saudi king in New York in early 2014, a year before the attempted 2015 assassination of Saudi Deputy Crown Prince, who was shot at while attending a Rotary Club meeting.
“The meeting was very intimidating,” Prince Turki recalled. “You know, the king was smoking like a chimney.”
“There was no shade behind him. It was the dark, dark clouds,” he continued. “… Everyone in the room was petrified, the king included.”
The Saudi king agreed to meet with Prince Turki but eventually decided to send the deputy crown prince as a replacement, the former Saudi intelligence head told ABC News.
“I resigned as ambassador and I prepared for life in exile,” Prince Turki said.
“A psychopath,” he reportedly added in the recorded conversation.
After the attempted assassination of Prince Saud al-Faisal, then Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki described former Crown Prince Abdullah as “one of the most wonderful men and one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met,” according to ABC News.
“The Crown Prince to me, who is there now, is a very sad man and one of the most despotic people I’ve ever met,” Prince Turki said.
A few years later, Prince Turki told ABC News, he is outraged by the United States and Saudi Arabia because of President Donald Trump’s policy toward Iran.
ABC News reporter Paul Ziobro reached out to the White House and the Saudi Embassy in Washington for comment, but did not receive responses.