Foreign Policy

Officials Say Saudi Crown Prince Ordered Operation to Detain WaPo Contributor

Written by SK Ashby

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that U.S. intelligence intercepted communications from Saudi officials discussing their plans to capture Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

The Washington Post reported late last night that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) had personally tried to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia several times before he was killed in Turkey.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan.

The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him. [...]

Khashoggi, however, was skeptical of the offers. He told one friend that the Saudi government would never make good on its promises not to harm him.

So, the intelligence community intercepted communications indicating the Saudis planned to capture Khashoggi and they knew MBS was trying to get his hands on him before recent events took place.

Did they warn him? Who else knew about this? Did the White House know? The more we learn about this, the more questions I have.

In related news, it's not clear how they know this, but Turkish investigators say they know exactly which room inside the Saudi consulate Kkashoggi was murdered in and investigators believe his dismembered body may have been buried in the garden of Saudi ambassador's residence which is nearby.

There are around 22 cars which are registered to the consulate of which between three and four are of interest to the murder inquiry.

One of them left the consulate building at 3:15pm and went several hundred metres to the nearby consul general's home, the source said.

MEE understands that the prosecutor general is now considering whether to dig up the consul general's garden to see whether Khashoggi's remains are buried there.

A separate Turkish source told MEE that the consul general has not left his house for the past three days and has cancelled all of his appointments.

This source also said that the Turkish police want to search the residence and also take all the cars which are registered to the consulate to a secure location to examine them, but the Saudis have not allowed this.

A source also told MEE the Saudis took all the hard drives from the security camera room at the consulate with them when they left the building.

The Saudis on Tuesday rescinded an offer they made originally to allow Turkish forensic experts onto the premises. Their offer was withdrawn after Turkish media outlets published a list of 15 Saudis who arrived in Istanbul on the same day Khashoggi disappeared.

Turkish sources who spoke to the London-based Middle East Eye (MEE) say Khashoggi was wearing an Apple Watch synced to an iPhone when he entered the Saudi consulate and that is the source of at least some of the information that Turkish investigators have uncovered. That could explain how they know the specific room he was killed in. The Apple Watch would have recorded his location.

There's little doubt that Khashoggi was killed, but some of this other information should probably not be taken at face value until we have further confirmation.

With so many intelligence agencies from several countries involved in this, there's no telling what kind of misinformation has been deliberately leaked to sources that may have their own motivations.

I'm skeptical that we'll hear anything near a full accounting of these events unless a Democratically-controlled Congress holds hearings.

For this part, Trump seems less than worried about it.

And there you have it. Regardless of what else we learn about this grizzly assassination, Trump still wants to sell weapons to the Saudis.