USA report on Khashoggi death to single out Saudi crown prince

Pablo Tucker
February 26, 2021

Khashoggi, 59, was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and killed by a team of operatives linked to the crown prince.

In a partially redacted two-year-old report released by President Joe Biden's administration, United States intelligence concluded that the prince "approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi".

Four U.S. officials told Reuters that the declassified U.S. intelligence report - to which the CIA was the main contributor - assessed that the Crown Prince approved and likely ordered the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, who had used his Washington Post column to criticize the Crown Prince's policies.

The basic facts are clear. His body was dismembered and his remains have never been found.

"We base this assessment on the Crown Prince's control of decision making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman's protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince's support for using violent measures to silence dissidents overseas, including Khashoggi", the report says. But in the face of intense global pressure, the kingdom blamed his death on "rogue" security officials.

Biden Will Hit Saudi Arabia Where It Hurts The Most With A CIA Report On Khashoggi Murder

Two months after Khashoggi's killing, in December 2018, then-CIA Director Gina Haspel returned from a trip to Turkey and briefed Senate leaders on her findings.

So the Central Intelligence Agency have history when it comes to the current crown prince.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "is a wrecking ball". Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican.

"We have high confidence that the following individuals participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi on behalf of Muhammad bin Salman", the report states, naming 20 people, including senior Saudi official Saud al-Qahtani, his subordinate Maher Mutreb, who allegedly coordinated and executed the operation; its participant Naif al-Arifi and others.

Washington choreographed events to soften the blow, with Biden on Thursday speaking with the crown prince's 85-year-old father, King Salman, in a call in which both sides said they reaffirmed their decades-old alliance and pledged co-operation. Three other men received lesser sentences.

Mr Biden has already ordered a review of USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia and is scrutinising purchases made under Donald Trump. He was apprehended in Dubai in September, 2017, and is now in Saudi custody.

The report's release is part of Biden's policy to realign ties with Riyadh after years of giving the Arab ally and major oil producer a pass on its human rights record and its intervention in Yemen's civil war.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday Biden would only communicate with the Saudi king and said the declassified Khashoggi report was being readied for release soon.

Biden said he has read the intelligence report produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all 18 of the US intelligence agencies.

The report, due to be released shortly, is expected to implicate the king's son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Analysts who follow Saudi Arabia say the king has been in poor health for years, and that the crown prince is the driving force in the kingdom.

Biden made the call after reading a forthcoming USA report into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In the long term, all this will likely push the Saudi leadership towards diversifying its defence and security partners, possibly opening new doors for Russian Federation and China. The two countries have also cooperated in counterterrorism efforts against radical Islamist groups such as al-Qaida. "The President noted positively the recent release of several Saudi-American activists and Ms. Loujain al-Hathloul from custody, and affirmed the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law".

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