The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed bin Salmán, approved the operation to assassinate the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, a report written by the US intelligence services confirmed this Friday.
“We assess that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohamed bin Salmán, approved the operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” says the two-page document, published by the Office of the Director of Intelligence. US National
The report adds that This evaluation is based on Bin Salmán’s control of the decision-making process in the kingdom, as well as in the direct involvement of advisers and members of the crown prince’s security in the assassination, and in supporting the use of violent measures to silence dissidents abroad.
“Since 20217, the crown prince has had absolute control of the kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, which makes it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would carry out an operation of this nature without the authorization of the prince“, underlines the text.
The report then points out that during the time the journalist was assassinated, Bin Salmán probably fostered an environment in which his assistants feared that they would fail in the tasks they were entrusted with, facing the possibility of being fired or arrested.
“This suggests that it is unlikely that the aides questioned Mohamed bin Salmán’s orders or that they undertook delicate actions without their consent “, reads the text.
It also adds that the team that arrived in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 to kill Khashoggi included officials who “worked or were related to the Saudi Center for Media Studies and Affairs (CSMARC) in the Royal Court”.
At that time, the center was run by Saud al Qahtani, who is identified by US Intelligence as a close advisor to Bin Salmán, who in 2018 publicly stated that he never made decisions without the prince’s approval.
The assassin squad also included seven members of Bin Salman’s personal security team., known as the Rapid Intervention Force, a branch of the Saudi Royal Guard charged with protecting the crown prince and responding solely to his orders.
Khashoggi, 59, a US resident and contributor to The Washington Post, was a great critic of the Saudi royal family.
On October 2, 2018, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, from which he never left.: he was killed by a group of people, who mutilated his body, which has never been recovered.
Speaking to reporters this Friday before the report was released, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “I think there are a series of actions that are on the table”, without offering further details.
The president, Joe Biden, spoke by phone on Thursday with the Saudi king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, before the document was released.
In the statement on the call distributed by the White House, no allusion was made to Khashoggi, and instead noted that both spoke “of the efforts (…) to end the war in Yemen”, and that Biden it reaffirmed the “US commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory against attacks by groups aligned with Iran.”
In Saudi Arabia, eight individuals were convicted of Khashoggi’s death and five of them were sentenced to capital punishment.. Later those sentences were commuted to 20 years in prison.