Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide for the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad bin Salman (MBS), is one of the people in the spotlight for international outrage over the death of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. On Saturday (20/10), Saudi state media said King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud had sacked Qahtani and four other officials over the case.
Qahtani is the person who manages SBM social media. He is also believed to be the man who masterminded the arrest of hundreds of elites in his country. He is also behind the 'detention' of the Lebanese prime minister.
Moreover, according to two intelligence sources, he is the man who carried out the brutal murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by giving orders via Skype.
Qahtani's influence on SBM has been so widespread over the past three years. Therefore it would be difficult for Saudi officials to appoint Qahtani as the mastermind behind the killings without asking questions about SBM involvement.
"This case will not overthrow SBM, but it will certainly affect its image, which will take a long time to be repaired if it happens. The king protects him," said one source who has a relationship with the kingdom.
Also read, Saudi Denies SBM Involvement in the Khashoggi Case.
Qahtani once said that he would never do anything without the approval of his superiors. "Do you think I made a decision without guidance? I am an employee and a faithful implementer of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the crown prince who is loyal," wrote Qahtani on Twitter last summer.
His biography on Twitter changed in the past few days from royal advisers to Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones chairman, a role he had held before.
A senior Saudi official said Qahtani had been detained after being sacked by the kingdom, but he still wrote installments on Twitter. Sources with links to the palace said they were not trusted by Qahtani.