The CIA now believes that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered at the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to two new published reports.
Khashoggi, who was a contributor to The Post, was last seen alive when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2. The Saudis initially denied Khashoggi was there, then changed the story to say he left after an hour, according to the BBC.
Eventually, Saudi officials said he was murdered in an unsanctioned operation and his body was disposed of. Saudi officials have denied any link between the killing and the crown prince.
“The cover-up was the worst in the history of cover-ups,” President Donald Trump told reporters Oct. 23, and his administration has sanctioned individuals involved in the killing. Trump, however, has also supported the Saudi prince as an ally in the regional Middle East effort to contain Iran.
The White House had no immediate comment on the reports in The Post and Times.
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) November 17, 2018
The Times reported that part of the evidence linking the prince to the murder was an intercepted phone message from a member of the team sent to Turkey to kill Khashoggi to an aide of the prince.
The message told the aide to “tell your boss” that the mission was accomplished, The Times reported.
The Post reported that Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States and the prince’s brother, had told Khashoggi to secure documents he needed for his upcoming marriage from the Saudi consulate in Turkey, and that no harm would come to him there.
Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told The Post that the ambassador and Khashoggi never discussed going to the consulate.
Allegations in the CIA’s “purported assessment are false,” Baeshen said. “We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.”
The ambassador took the unusual route of going on Twitter to defend himself.
“As we told the Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” he tweeted.
As we told the Washington Post the last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct 26 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim.
— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) November 16, 2018
No clear motive has emerged for the killing. Although Khashoggi was critical of the prince, he did not advocate his removal.
The Post suggested that to the prince, Khashoggi was potentially involved with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Post reported that the prince has suggested Khashoggi was linked to the organization during calls with U.S. officials.
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