By Ryan Gaydos
Published February 12, 2019
The trend of numerous Saudi nationals who were studying abroad in the U.S. but who suddenly vanished amid legal trouble is not unique to Oregon, according to a new report, which also found similar cases in eight other states and Canada.
In Oregon alone, five Saudi nationals – all of them attending college in the state – reportedly had help getting out of legal binds from high-powered sources within Saudi Arabia. The five cases were similar – all men who disappeared while facing jail time and all of their current whereabouts unknown.
Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, Abdulaziz Al Duways, Waleed Ali Alharthi, Suliman Ali Algwaiz and Ali Hussain Alhamoud were all previously identified as receiving help from Saudi Arabia in order to flee the U.S. amid criminal investigations. The Oregonian later uncovered more cases.
In Montana, Sami Suliman Almendaini and Faisal Altaleb both disappeared from the state, along with a third, unidentified man.
Almendaini was accused of raping a roommate after a 2017 music festival. He was charged with sexual intercourse without consent and is believed to have flown from Seattle to Mexico during detectives’ investigation into the alleged rape. Ataleb was questioned about a sexual assault. He denied the allegations but is believed to have fled to Saudi Arabia after the interview with authorities. The unidentified man was accused of assaulting two women in 2012, but after being contacted by a University of Montana official about the incident, he reportedly made his way back to Saudi Arabia.
In Ohio, Abdulrahman Ali Al-Plaies was accused of causing a fiery wreck that left one elderly woman dead in June 1988. The Saudi Embassy demanded police release Al-Plaies claiming the man was mentally ill, the Oregonian reported. Later, his bail was cut in half and the Saudi Embassy bailed him out. He was then escorted out of jail by a Saudi military officer, placed into a car and taken away.
Fahad Al Ghuwainem was in the U.S. studying on scholarships from Saudi Arabia in Oklahoma when he was accused of raping a woman in October 2014, the Oregonian reported. Al Ghuwainem failed to appear in court over the charges, having mysteriously vanished.
Police in Pennsylvania said college student Hani Alshammary was accused of attempted rape, forcible compulsion, unlawful restraint, harassment and disorderly conduct, the Oregonian reported, citing court records. He was later bailed out by a fellow student and then flew from Detroit to an unknown destination.
In Washington state, Saud Alabdullatif and Siraj Marakeey both vanished while facing criminal charges. Alabdullatif was attending college in 2016 when he was accused of forcible second-degree rape. He bailed out of jail and, on the same day, boarded a plane in Seattle to head back to Saudi Arabia, according to the Oregonian. Marakeey, a foreign exchange student from Saudi Arabia, was accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in 1989. A warrant was issued in 1991, but he's believed to have left the state in 1990 to attend school in Iowa. His whereabouts are currently unknown, however.
Abdullah Almakrami vanished in April 2014 after he was charged with sexually assaulting a woman. After he was bailed out of jail he skipped an expulsion hearing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Oregonian reported, telling officials he was “out of the country.” FOX6 Milwaukee later reported he had fled to Saudi Arabia.
In Utah, Monsour Alshammari was a Saudi Arabia-sponsored exchange student when he was charged with first-degree rape and obstruction of justice. According to the Oregonian, Alshammari’s bail was posted by the Saudi Consulate and he was later captured trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. He would later plead guilty to first-degree rape and was sentenced to one year in prison, the newspaper reported. Utah officials said at the time of his arrest he had ties to the Saudi royal family, according to NBC San Diego.
In Canada, two similar instances occurred.
Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi was facing several charges for incidents that occurred between 2015 and 2017, the Chronicle Herald reported. The Saudi Embassy in Ottawa reportedly helped bail him out and in December 2018 he vanished. His attorney reportedly told police he had fled the country, though authorities had taken his passport.
Taher Ali Al-Saba was a Saudi national studying in Canada in June 2016 when he was charged with sexually assaulting two kids, according to the Chronicle Herald. After he was released from jail, Al-Saba was forced to give up his passport. However, after traveling to the Saudi Embassy in Ottawa, he had vanished. Canadian authorities confirmed to the Chronicle Herald he had left.