Date :Sunday, November 18th, 2018 | Time : 01:09 |ID: 78175 | Print

CIA finally concluded Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing

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SHAFAQNA– The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, US media reported on Friday.

In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence.

Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

According to the Washington Post, who first reported the CIA conclusion, US officials expressed high confidence in the CIA assessment, which is the most definitive to date linking MBS to the killing and complicates President Donald Trump’s efforts to preserve ties with one of the closest US allies in the region.

US Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to Papua New Guinea, told reporters travelling with him that he could not comment on classified information.

President Donald Trump said Saturday morning that he had not yet been briefed on the CIA’s assessment, but planned to speak with the agency and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his flight to California.

“As of this moment, we were told that (bin Salman) did not play a role,” Trump told reporters at the White House before boarding Air Force One. “We’re going to have to find out what they have to say”, CNN told.

The CIA’s conclusion about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

Both the Washington Post and the Associated Press cited unnamed officials familiar with the CIA conclusion.

The State Department and the CIA declined to comment.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi Consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

The audio shows that Khashoggi was killed within moments of entering the consulate, according to officials in multiple countries who have listened to it or been briefed on its contents. Khashoggi died in the office of the Saudi consul general, who can be heard expressing his displeasure that Khashoggi’s body now needed to be disposed of and the facility cleaned of any evidence, according to people familiar with the audio recording.

The CIA also examined a call placed from inside the consulate after the killing by an alleged member of the Saudi hit team, Maher Mutreb, a security official who has often been seen at the crown prince’s side and who was photographed entering and leaving the consulate on the day of the killing, Washington Post reported.

Mutreb called Saud al-Qahtani, then one of the top aides to Mohammed, and informed him that the operation had been completed, according to people familiar with the call.

Over the past several weeks, the Saudis have offered multiple, contradictory explanations for what happened at the consulate.

Saudi Arabia initially rejected its officials were behind the killing, but as Turkish authorities continued to leak evidence of high-level involvement, Riyadh eventually admitted its agents carried out the killing with a series of contradictory explanations.

Turkish officials have said the killing was intentional and have been pressuring Saudi Arabia to extradite those responsible to stand trial. An adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia of trying to cover up the murder, ALJAZEERA reported.

His remarks came after Shaalan al-Shaalan, Saudi Arabia’s deputy public prosecutor, said he was seeking the death penalty for five suspects charged in Khashoggi’s killing. Al-Shaalan told reporters the Saudi crown prince knew nothing of the operation, in which Khashoggi’s body was dismembered and removed from the consulate.

The assassination of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Mohammed’s policies, has sparked a foreign policy crisis for the White House and raised questions about the administration’s reliance on Saudi Arabia as a key ally in the Middle East and bulwark against Iran.

The reports on the CIA assessment come a day after the US sanctioned 17 Saudi nationals allegedly involved in Khashoggi’s murder, including bin Salman’s top aide, Saud al-Qahtani.

Many US politicians welcomed the sanctions, but said they did not go far enough and that MBS should be included.

Separately on Thursday, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation seeking to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s killing and for the kingdom’s role in the devastating war in Yemen.

The report also came less than 24 hours after hundreds gathered beneath a grey, rainy sky for a funeral service to mark Mr Khashoggi’s passing at a historical mosque in Istanbul, praying before an empty slab of marble where his missing body should have .

His friends, colleagues, political fellow travellers as well as local and international media, crowded into the courtyard of the 15th-century Fatih Mosque on Istanbul’s European side, to hold  the traditional Muslim prayer held before burial, Independent reported.

 

Read more from shafaqna:

Hossein Askari: Bin Salman will step down

The ruling Saudi family is seeking to replace crown prince Mohammed bin Salman

 

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