According to Human Rights Watch, the Mabahith "monitors suspected political opponents and others, targets individuals for arrest, and interrogates detainees. Mabahith agents operate with impunity and have been responsible for a wide range of human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, and torture".
Members of the Mabahith were allegedly responsible for the torture of Western detainees arrested during a car bombing campaign which started in 2000. Two members in particular, Khalid al-Saleh and Ibrahim al-Dali, were named by William Sampson in his court action against the Saudi Government. Sampson and others lost their case in the UK High Court when the Saudis used the State Immunity Act 1978 as their defence.