Saudi Crown Prince “Authorized Operation to Kill or Capture” Journalist, Washington Says

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. – FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP

For American intelligence, there is no doubt: “We believe that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed ben Salman authorized an operation in Istanbul to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi. More than two years after the death of the dissident, killed by Saudi agents at the Istanbul consulate, in October 2018, the Biden administration released a highly anticipated US intelligence report on Friday.

According to this report from the National Intelligence Directorate, “the Crown Prince considered Khashoggi a threat to the kingdom and more broadly supported the use of violent measures if necessary to silence him.”

Involvement of the right arm of MBS

US intelligence bases its analysis on “the direct involvement of a key adviser to Mohammed ben Salman and several of his guards in the operation.” “Since 2017, the Crown Prince has absolute control over the kingdom’s security and intelligence; Saudi officials are unlikely to have carried out such an operation without the green light from the Crown Prince, ”the report concludes.

According to CCTV footage, Jamal Khashoggi entered the Turkish consulate in Istanbul for an administrative procedure on October 2, 2018. According to Turkish intelligence, he was killed inside, then his body was cut up with a saw and carried in suitcases.

Report blocked by Donald Trump

After denying, Riyadh ends up admitting weeks later that the dissident journalist was indeed killed. “Discussions between Jamal Khashoggi and those he met at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul (…) led to a brawl, which led to his death”, assures the Kingdom, denying any involvement of the crown prince.

King Salman asks his son to restructure the intelligence services. Four officials are sacked. Five Saudis were then sentenced to death in a trial, but the final verdict, in September 2020, ultimately commuted their sentences to prison terms ranging from 7 to 20 years.

The Trump administration had then done everything possible to protect MBS, very close to Jared Kushner and crucial ally in American policy in the Middle East. Assuring that the responsibility of the crown prince is not established, Donald Trump had blocked the publication of the report. In his book Rage, the American journalist Bob Woodward said that Donald Trump told him to have “saved the buttocks” of the crown prince, succeeding in “getting Congress to leave him alone.”

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