Foreign Policy

“Tell Your Boss”

Written by SK Ashby

Turkish authorities distributed copies of the audio recording of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi's assassination to western intelligence agencies last week and some details of the recording are now being leaked to the press.

Trump's top national security adviser John Bolton has downplayed the contents of the recording by claiming it does not implicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), but intelligence community seems to have different ideas about it.

According to the intelligence officials who spoke to the New York Times off the record, an agent close to MBS can be heard reporting back to his superiors on the recording.

WASHINGTON — Shortly after the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated last month, a member of the kill team instructed a superior over the phone to “tell your boss,” believed to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, that the operatives had carried out their mission, according to three people familiar with a recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing collected by Turkish intelligence. [...]

While the prince was not mentioned by name, American intelligence officials believe “your boss” was a reference to Prince Mohammed. Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, one of 15 Saudis dispatched to Istanbul to confront Mr. Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate there, made the phone call and spoke in Arabic, the people said.

Turkish intelligence officers have told American officials they believe that Mr. Mutreb, a security officer who frequently traveled with Prince Mohammed, was speaking to one of the prince’s aides. While translations of the Arabic may differ, the people briefed on the call said Mr. Mutreb also said to the aide words to the effect of “the deed was done.”

Regardless of how John Bolton or any other Trump regime official feels about or describes these recordings, we'll soon have a congressional body that is motivated to and capable of learning the full truth of the matter.

We're also going to learn what the White House knew and when they knew it. You may recall that reports emerged after Khashoggi's initial disappearance that said American intelligence knew the Saudis were trying to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia so he could be interrogated. We still don't know if anyone warned him and, if not -- why not?

We're nearly a year away from a point in time when it will matter, but I cannot imagine the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2019 will pass through the new Congress without provisions that will roll back our support of the Saudi regime and their war in Yemen.