Saudi crown prince APPROVED plan to ‘capture or kill’ Khashoggi, newly-declassified US intelligence report says

Saudi crown prince APPROVED plan to ‘capture or kill’ Khashoggi, newly-declassified US intelligence report says


The US intelligence report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi says that; Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman approved the operation to capture or kill the Saudi journalist.

“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul; Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the report’s executive summary states.
“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; as well as the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi,” the report says.

The Biden administration provided the long-awaited declassified intelligence report to Congress ahead of its public release on Friday.

The congressionally mandated release of the report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; followed a phone call President Joe Biden had with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud on Thursday.
The four-page document, titled “Assessing the Saudi Government’s Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi”; is dated February 11 and marked as declassified by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on February 25.
Shortly after the report’s release, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new “Khashoggi Ban”; that allows the US to restrict visas for individuals acting on behalf of a foreign government who are directly engaged in “serious, extraterritorial counter-dissident activities, including those that suppress, harass, surveil, threaten, or harm journalists, activists, or other persons perceived to be dissidents for their work.”
Blinken said in a statement that the ban, which can cover family members as well, would immediately be applied to 76 Saudi individuals; “believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.”
The Treasury Department followed with sanctions against a former Saudi intelligence official, Ahmed Hassan Mohammed al Asiri; as well as the crown prince’s personal protective detail, the Rapid Intervention Force, also known as the ‘Tiger Squad.’

These officials were designated under an executive order that “builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act; and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world,” the department said in a statement.

Asked why the US had failed to punish the crown prince personally, Blinken told reporters at the State Department Friday; that “what we’ve done by the actions that we’ve taken is really not to rupture the relationship, but to recalibrate it, to be more in line with our interests and our values.
And I think that we have to understand as well that this is bigger than any one person.”
In an interview with NPR; Haines conceded the report could complicate US-Saudi relations.
“I am sure it is not going to make things easier,” she said. “But I think it’s also fair to say that it is not unexpected.”
The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement saying the country “completely rejects the negative; false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.”
It added that Khashoggi’s killing was an “abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the kingdom’s laws as well as values.
The report also notes bin Salman’s “absolute control” of Saudi intelligence and security operations.

ALSO READ: Biden call with Saudi king expected ‘very soon’ on Khashoggi murder

‘Absolute control’

“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations; making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization,” the report says.
It says that the 15-person Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul in October 2018 when Khashoggi was killed
included members associated with the Saudi Center for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court; led by a close adviser of bin Salman, as well as “seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s elite personal protective detail; known as the Rapid Intervention Force.”
The report notes that bin Salman viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom; “and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary, to silence him.”
The intelligence report also says that they still do not have visibility on when the Saudis decided to harm the father of five.
“Although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him,” it said.
The report also noted that at the time of Khashoggi’s murder, “the crown prince fostered an environment in which aides were afraid that; failure to complete assigned tasks might result in him firing or arresting them.”

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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