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CIA concludes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi killing

The Washington Post reported on the claims last night.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Image: ABACA/PA Images

US INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS have concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US official said. The Saudi government has denied the claim.

The conclusion will bolster efforts in Congress to further punish the close US ally for the killing.

The Trump administration this week sanctioned 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but lawmakers have called on the administration to curtail arms sales to Saudi Arabia or take other harsher punitive measures.

The US official familiar with the intelligence agencies’ conclusion was unauthorized to speak publicly about it and spoke Friday on condition of anonymity. The intel conclusion was first reported by The Washington Post.

Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat has said the crown prince had “absolutely” nothing to do with the killing.

Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States, was a columnist for the Washington Post and often criticized the royal family.

He was killed 2 October at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish and Saudi authorities say he was killed inside the consulate by a team from the kingdom after he went there to get marriage documents.

Earlier this week, the top prosecutor in Saudi Arabia announced he will seek the death penalty against five men suspected in the killing. The prosecutor’s announcement sought to quiet the global outcry over Khashoggi’s death and distance the killers and their operation from the kingdom’s leadership, primarily the crown prince.

President Donald Trump has called the killing a botched operation that was carried out very poorly and has said “the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups.”

But he has resisted calls to cut off arms sales to the kingdom and has been reluctant to antagonise the Saudi rulers. Trump considers the Saudis vital allies in his Mideast agenda.

The Post, citing unnamed sources, also reported that US intelligence agencies reviewed a phone call that the prince’s brother, Khalid bin Salman, had with Khashoggi.

The newspaper said the prince’s brother, who is the current Saudi ambassador to the United States, told Khashoggi he would be safe in going to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents he needed to get married.

The newspaper said it was not known whether the ambassador knew Khashoggi would be killed. But it said he made the call at the direction the crown prince, and the call was intercepted by US intelligence.

Fatimah Baeshen, a spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington, said that claim was false.

She said in a statement issued to The Associated Press that the ambassador met Khashoggi in person once in late September 2017.

After that, they communicated via text messages, she said. The last text message the ambassador sent to Khashoggi was on 26 October, 2017, she said.

Baeshen said the ambassador did not discuss with Khashoggi “anything related to going to Turkey.”

“Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with him,” she said.

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Associated Press

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