The Biden administration on Friday released a declassified US intelligence report that explicitly implicates Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the brutal killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
“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,” said the report, provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
It added: “We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decisionmaking 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 abroad, including Khashoggi.”
The report noted that Prince Mohammed since 2017 has had “absolute control” over the kingdom’s security and intelligence organisations, “making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorisation.”
“The Crown Prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom, and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him,” the report said.
The intelligence assessment also named with “high confidence” 21 people who “participated in, ordered, or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi on behalf of Muhammad bin Salman.”
The report said, however, that it was unclear “whether these individuals knew in advance that the operation would result in Khashoggi’s death.”
The names included Saud al-Qahtani, a former close advisor to MBS, who’s been accused of directing the operation behind Khashoggi’s murder. Al-Qahtani was dismissed from his post shortly after the killing.