Status: 02/26/2021 8:23 p.m.
Without the Saudi Crown Prince, the Khashoggi murder would not have been possible – the US secret services are making serious allegations against Mohammed bin Salman. Washington imposed sanctions on dozens of Saudis.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely approved the operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, according to US intelligence agencies. This emerges from a report published by the office of US intelligence coordinator Avril Haines.
Since 2017, the Crown Prince has “absolute control over the kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations,” the report said. “That makes it highly unlikely that Saudi Arabian officials would have carried out such an operation without the Crown Prince’s approval.” A close advisor and bodyguard to the Crown Prince was also involved in the operation against Khashoggi.
The US State Department imposed entry restrictions on 76 citizens of Saudi Arabia. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said that they were believed to have “been involved in the threat to dissidents abroad” like Khashoggi.
According to the US secret services, Mohammend bin Salman supported “if necessary violent means” to “silence” Khashoggi.
Seen as a threat
The crown prince saw Khashoggi as a threat to the kingdom “and, if necessary, supported violent means to silence him,” the report said. It is unclear, however, to what extent Saudi Arabian government representatives had planned in advance to inflict violence on journalists critical of the government.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2, 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a special command from Riyadh. There is no trace of his corpse. The journalist lived in the US state of Virginia and wrote columns for the Washington Post, which often contained criticism of the Saudi monarchy.
A trial of Khashoggi’s murder is ongoing in Turkey. A Saudi court sentenced five defendants to 20 years’ imprisonment in the autumn, thus overturning the death penalty imposed on the five men at the end of last year. Khashoggi’s family had previously stated that they would forgive the perpetrators.
Biden had already accused the Crown Prince of responsibility
US President Joe Biden had already accused the Crown Prince in the election campaign of having ordered the killing of Khashoggis. Riyadh will “pay a price” for it and become an “outsider”. On Thursday, Biden called the Saudi King Salman for the first time. The White House said afterwards that Biden had reaffirmed the importance the US attaches to human rights and the rule of law. The notice made no mention of Khashoggi’s killing.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had made billions in arms deals with Riyadh. The Republican was an important ally of the Crown Prince. Washington imposed sanctions on more than a dozen former Saudi government employees in connection with the murder of the journalist. Trump stuck to his support for the royal family in Riyadh.