“A Terrifying Search for a Saudi Exiled Dissident: The Demanding Twitter Request for His Head”
When a former colonel in the Saudi police force, who is seeking asylum in the UK, went live on TikTok in mid-March to explain why he had left the police force, internet vigilantes immediately put a bounty on his head.
A horde of Twitter accounts has been harassing the 44-year-old online since then, calling him a “traitor” and “doxxing” him, revealing information about his whereabouts.
The former colonel, Rabih Alenezi, says he now fears for his life as the threats are coming from all social media platforms. He told Observers team that they want to kill him before he gets political asylum in the United Kingdom.
Alenezi is living in constant fear in a concealed location. His terror has risen since a mysterious Twitter account offered 10,000 Saudi riyals (around €2,400) to anyone who has information on his whereabouts.
On March 7, 2023, Rabih Alenezi published a video to his Twitter account announcing his decision to leave the Saudi police.
On March 17, Alenezi’s Twitter account was hacked, and all his tweets criticizing the regime were removed and replaced with photos of Mohamed Bin Salman, the crown prince of the Saudi kingdom.
Then, on March 22, while live streaming on TikTok from a restaurant in central London, the Twitter account “Fahad Bin Sattam” (@fahadnoic), which boasted that he had been able to locate Alenezi, put a bounty on his head.
Alenezi subsequently stopped the live broadcast. The nightmare continued for Alenezi on March 23, when he started streaming from another café in London, and Bin Sattam doxxed him again, determining his filming location where he immediately left the café.
On March 27, Bin Sattam posted a sort of wanted ad online, offering 10,000 Saudi riyals (€2,400) to anyone who has information about Alenezi’s location, stating that he is renting a studio in London, probably in Kensington.
He added images of the inside of the apartment where the former colonel was staying, which he took from his TikTok videos.
Three days later, Bin Sattam told his followers to find Alenezi’s property on British housing sites Zoopla Property or OnTheMarket, offering 5,000 riyals (€1,200) extra to the first person who finds him before him.
Hundreds of tweets praised Bin Sattam’s efforts, with one even offering an additional 1,000 riyals (€200) to him to add to the 10,000 riyals.
Many of Bin Sattam’s followers joined Alenezi’s live streams on TikTok, filling the comments sections with threats and insults. Despite multiple reports, Twitter did not take any action against Bin Sattam, as his threatening messages did not violate Twitter rules.
Alenezi is doing his utmost to limit contact with strangers, and he is afraid that masked men will show up at his door to kill him any minute.
He has become a target for many trolls after leaving the police force and expressing his opinion.
He says the trolls became terrified after his posts, as if he was an imminent danger to the Kingdom, but all he did was talk about his experience in the police and express his opinion.
He also says that nobody dared threaten a colonel without the consent or direct order of the Saudi authorities, leading him to believe that they are behind the threats.