Ibrahim AlHussayen was attending school in Mississippi while threatening critics of the Saudi government using Instagram.
According to an unsealed complaint out of New York, the FBI has been investigating an online campaign to harass and intimidate several individuals, some of whom are United States residents, including at least one individual who resides in New York as part of an effort from the Saudi government.
The online harassment campaign over Instagram, the FBI states, is directed at individuals, typically women, who have been identified as political dissidents of, or otherwise voiced opposition to, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), or relatives and family members of those individuals.
Ibrahim AlHussayen, a 42-year old male, is named in the complaint and has been arrested. He has resided in the U.S. since at least approximately 2013, entering the country on an F1 student visa application. According to legal filings, AlHussayen has attended two universities in Mississippi where he is seeking a Ph.D. and resides in Brandon, Mississippi. AlHussayen is a KSA citizen and lists his employer as the Saudi Royal Court.
“He further stated that fifty percent of his income while in the United States was covered by a scholarship provided by his employer, the Saudi Royal Court, and the remaining fifty percent was provided by the Saudi Cultural Mission. ALHUSSAYEN said he worked as an administrative advisor and consultant for the Saudi Royal Court until 2012. ALHUSSAYEN stated that he was not doing work on behalf of the KSA government at this time, except for attending school,” the complaint states.
The online harassment campaign is consistent with efforts by agents of the KSA government to harass and intimidate dissidents and other individuals critical of the KSA government.
The news of this incident was first reported by Alice Tecotzky at The Daily Beast here.
The New York Times has also picked up the story here.
As noted in the NY Times piece by Troy Closson:
“The charges come as President Biden prepares to visit Saudi Arabia next month, in a bid to lower gas prices and rebuild relations fractured in the wake of the 2018 assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and Virginia resident.
“The complaint underscores an aggressive effort by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his top advisers to muzzle critics of the government and its policies. In Riyadh, the country’s capital, hundreds of young men work at a troll farm to drown out those voices at the direction of those close to Prince Mohammed.”
You can read the full complaint and affidavit used for the arrest warrant here.