The alleged leader of a team responsible for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi has mysteriously disappeared from public view, as rumors circulate that he was fatally poisoned.
Saud al-Qahtani has not been seen for months and is not among the 11 people tried in Saudi Arabia for the murder of Khashoggi.
Until now, it was thought that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), who, according to the CIA, would probably have ordered the killing of the Washington Post reporter at the country's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
Speculation now surrounds the fate of the former head of law enforcement of the monarch – a Saudi dissident unconfirmed claiming that al-Qahtani had been declared.
The Oslo-based critic, Iyad al-Baghdadi, tweeted that he "had received news that Saud Al Qahtani had been poisoned to death by Mohammed bin Salman".
"The source is well placed and has been reliable for almost a year, and I can not reveal anything else about this source publicly.
However, Bloomberg News has indicated that this view is not widely shared by other people familiar with the situation.
Two months after the Norwegian intelligence services placed Baghdadi under close protection, the CIA warned that he was being exposed to Saudi agents.
According to the experts, 41-year-old al-Qahtani may have been killed because the close adviser to Mohammed bin Salman knew too much about who was behind Khashoggi's murder.
Madawi al-Rasheed, visiting professor at the Middle East Institute of the London School of Economics, said: "Dictators are renowned for having murdered their critics and dissidents, but they also like to kill their loved ones, especially when they could have helped get rid of a persistent criticism.
"It is only natural that irresponsible regimes murder their collaborators, which could reveal their intrigues and brutality, and they become scapegoats to preserve greater heads of scrutiny and greater responsibility."
Al-Qahtani, one of Mohammed bin Salman's closest advisers, was officially sanctioned by the United States for his alleged role in the Khashoggi assassination.
In 2017, he was in charge of monitoring social media and created a blacklist inviting citizens to name and shame the "mercenaries" who had sided with Qatar after the Doha blockade of the Saudis.
Last year, he was accused of being responsible for the sexual and physical violence inflicted on incarcerated women activist Loujain al-Hathloul, detained since May 2018.
Earlier this week, it appeared that Khashoggi's last words urged him not to cover his mouth in case he would kill, just in case he suffocated.
A few minutes earlier, he had entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to retrieve a document allowing him to marry his fiancé who was waiting for him outside.
After the murder, the body of the Saudi dissident was cut out and removed from the building in a suitcase. It has never been found.
Last week, US Senator Todd Young had a one-hour meeting with MbS during which the Crown Prince took "personal property as head of the country" for the murder of Khashoggi.
"He assured me and Senator King that justice would be done to those 11 people identified as potentially responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi," he said.
At the same time, al-Baghdadi said that the fact that his claims were not refuted means that al-Qahtani was probably killed.
Former CIA officer Paul Pillar said, "If Al-Qahtani suffers his loss as a result of his involvement in the Khashoggi case, it also shows how close a regime is to One-man diet, plus counselors, even the most influential, are vulnerable to be sacrificed for the sake of a man at the top. & # 39;