Foreign Policy

Report: MBS Was in Close Contact With Khashoggi’s Killers

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

When the Saudi government finally admitted that their agents killed Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, they pointed fingers at a group of men who allegedly acted on their own.

According to intercepts gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was in close communication with the man who allegedly orchestrated the assassination in the hours before and after it happened.

From the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment. [...]

The electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani, according to the CIA. Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul, the assessment says. The content of the messages between Prince Mohammed and Mr. Qahtani isn’t known, the document says. It doesn’t say in what form the messages were sent.

We can only guess what form the messages were sent in because the Wall Street Journal's source was not more specific, but it looks like MBS was texting his main man about the killing.

Whether his orders took the form of emails or texts, it seems fairly clear that MBS was not aware that he was under surveillance or perhaps he didn't especially care if he was.

This reports answers some questions, but it also raises new ones that House Democrats should investigate when they gain control of oversight next month.

The most important question to me is this: did the Trump regime know what the Saudis were planning to do before it happened?

CIA Director Gina Haspel is reportedly "furious" that these specific details were leaked to the Wall Street Journal.

  • muselet

    I’ve tapdanced around the obvious for a while, but the evidence is pretty conclusive: Mohanned bin Salman was personally responsible for the slaughter of Jamal Khashoggi.

    Maybe it’s just me, but the savage murder of a permanent US resident seems too high a price to pay for access to oil, a commodity that will be important mostly as the feedstock in the manufacture of plastics and other chemical concoctions within a couple of decades. (There’s also the issue of Donald Trump’s debt, held in part by Saudi banks, but that’s a topic for another time.)