The Mandalay Bay Massacre and Saudi Arabia

Some have suggested that the death of 58 concert-goers in the Mandalay Bay massacre in Las Vegas in October, 2017 was an attempted assassination targeting Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman. The holes in the official story of the massacre are many and the Saudi angle has not been fully explored.

The secret history begins with a coup: on July 17, 2017, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the Deputy Crown Prince, replaced the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef, the head of Saudi intelligence, in what is widely regarded as a coup. Alarmed at Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rapid rise and leapfrogging over older family members in line to the throne, the conspirators decided to remove him from the line of succession. They were aided by friendly elements of the US intelligence services, who may or may not have known their ultimate intentions.

The top floors of the Mandalay Bay aren’t part of the hotel at all; they belong to the Four Seasons hotel, a hotel owned by Prince Walid bin Talal, a prominent Saudi investor and one of the Kingdom’s richest men. Prince Walid had a fleet of airplanes that included a 747 and for a while, even a double decker Airbus A-380, the world’s largest passenger plane. From an Islamic point of view, the Four Seasons is almost chaste: the Four Seasons hotel is unique among hotels on the Las Vegas Strip in that no gambling is offered. Thus, a Saudi staying at the hotel is insulated from charges of un-Islamic behavior. It is a perfect place to lodge for the future Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the official title of the king of Saudi Arabia.

Stephen Paddock, the man blamed for the attack, was to supply CIA-provided weapons, purchased legally from gun stores, to the assassination team. The guns are stashed in his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay. The hotel has always given conflicting information about how Paddock bypassed all the security the hotel had in place. No casino on the Vegas Strip has lax security. But with US intelligence as part of Paddock’s team, badges could be shown to bypass that security and carry bags without inspection to anywhere in the hotel.

The conspirators would pick up the guns on the 32nd floor and then head up the stairs to the Four Seasons where they would attack MbS. After he and his bodyguards were killed, they would return to the 32nd floor and escape in the confusion, perhaps with the credentials they had used to plant the guns prior to the commencement of the operation.

Two events happen to thwart the plot. MbS was not sitting with his entourage smoking sheesha in his suite at the 4 Seasons, instead he had put on Western clothes and melted into the Vegas crowds without his phalanx of bodyguards, walking to the Tropicana Casino, where he was enjoying himself playing cards, oblivious to the events that would soon unfold.

MbS bodyguards have in the meantime been alerted to the plot. They go to the Tropicana and pick up the prince, taking him to the McCarran Airport. There is a firefight at the airport. It is not clear whether this is shooting from the Mandalay Bay by frustrated coup plotters or a contingent that had somehow gotten wind of MbS’ flight to the airport from the Tropicana.

The FBI is busy arresting the coup plotters’ forces, which have now spread to other venues. There are sporadic shoot-outs. Two assassins are with Paddock in his room. They kill Paddock and do all the shooting of the concert-goers themselves in the hopes of creating a diversion that will permit them to escape.

They realize that the coup has failed and both commit suicide.

The CIA tells the FBI that the evidence of the coup attempt must be covered up. The FBI takes control of the crime scene and removes the bodies. Paddock is blamed for the massacre. The fact that the US government provided Paddock with the guns used for the massacre is buried along with the victims. The official story is that Paddock is a madman. The investigation turns up no motive for the attack.

How Paddock earned the vast sums needed to achieve “Whale” status is never quite clear. The story is that he regularly bet heavily, won at video poker, and that is why he was afforded privileges by the hotel. But no one wins regularly in Vegas, especially at any type of electronic slot machine. No one.

MbS returned to Saudi Arabia. A few weeks later, on November 4, Prince Walid was arrested, incarcerated at the Ritz-Carlton and the vast bulk of his fortune was eventually forfeited to the Saudi state. Prince Mansour, son of the former crown prince, fleeing arrest, was killed in a helicopter crash the next day.

Saad Al-Jabri was a top deputy to the former Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef. He left Saudi Arabia in May, 2017. After the June 20 coup that ousted bin Nayef, Al-Jabri asked for and was granted political asylum in Canada.

On April 21, 2018, reports of another violent coup attempt were denied by Riyadh. According to the reports, MbS had been shot and wounded. Al-Jabri now claims that MbS sent an assassination squad to kill him five months later, in October, 2018.

There is little doubt that there has been one coup and countercoup attempt after another over the past three years. The Saudi government on March 6, 2020 arrested Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and accused him of planning a coup. If Al-Jabri can confirm that the Mandalay Bay massacre was linked to an attempted coup, he is indeed living on borrowed time. That is a story that must not get out.

The recent history of Saudi Arabia shows that the government and the coup plotters routinely ignore international borders when planning or carrying out operations. Coup attempts explain so much; the Ritz-Carlton arrests, the assassination of Khashoggi—what if he knew of the coup?—and MbS’ hard stance towards domestic critics. In an article published in The New Yorker on November 6th, 2017, Khashoggi was called an advisor to Saudi diplomats, strongly suggesting that he was a dissident. Did Khashoggi learn of the coup against MbS? If Khashoggi did and failed to warn him, this could be the real reason for his elimination. If MbS came to believe that Khashoggi was not just a journalist but one of the coup planners, killing Khashoggi is completely understandable.

Much of what has happened is in the public record; what is not proven is whether or not the Mandalay Bay massacre was part of a botched attempt to assassinate Mohammed bin Salman. Parts of this story can easily be corroborated; for other parts there is no evidence, or that evidence has been suppressed. Keep in mind that the official story requires belief that the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia just coincidentally happened to be a few floors above a madman who single-handedly plotted and executed the largest mass murder in American history.

Or maybe it all just happened the way they said it did.