Read the ODNI report on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi

James Marshall
Февраля 26, 2021

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved of an operation to capture or kill dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in 2018, according to a declassified US intelligence assessment released on Friday.

The Trump administration issued sanctions against 17 Saudis involved in the killing, but Crown Prince Mohammed was not among them.

"Since 2017, the crown prince has had absolute control of the kingdom's security and intelligence operations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the crown prince's authorization", it said.

"According to the instruction of His Highness the Crown Prince", the Minister wrote according to a translation, "immediately approve the completion of the necessary procedures for this".

Evidence that ownership of the fleet of private planes had been moved into Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has not been previously reported and provides another link between Khashoggi's death and MBS.

Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The documents were filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice as part of a civil suit by 10 subsidiaries of Tahakom Investments Co., which is owned by the Public Investment Fund. The companies allege that Saad Aljabri, who held a cabinet-rank intelligence post under deposed crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, engaged in a massive fraud totalling at least US$3.47-billion.

Among the companies is Sky Prime Aviation Services, which had been run by Mr. Aljabri's son-in-law. Al-Jabry is now living in self-imposed exile in Canada and claims in court that MBS sent a hit squad to kill him.

Mr Biden has already ordered a review of USA arms sales to Saudi Arabia and is scrutinising purchases made under Donald Trump.

There was brief reference to Biden discussing the importance of "universal human rights and the rule of law". In the weeks after Mr. Khashoggi's death, Mr. Trump pledged to remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia - despite acknowledging that MBS may have known of the plan to kill the journalist.

Biden later told reporters the call, their first since he took office last month, was "good".

Asked how the release of the findings would affect Biden's approach toward Saudi Arabia, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, "He will speak out on the concerns he has about human rights abuses, about the lack of freedom of speech or the lack of freedom of media and expression, or any concerns he has".

Whatever decision Biden makes could decide the fate of the relationship with one of the United States' key Arab allies. "There are a range of actions that are on the table", she said.

A unclassified United States intelligence report released on Friday confirms for the first time what role top U.S. intelligence officials believe Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler played in the 2018 killing of the Saudi journalist. His body was then dismembered and handed over to a local "collaborator" outside the consulate, prosecutors said.

Khashoggi's remains have never been found amid speculation that they were dissolved in a Value-Added Tax of acid in the diplomatic building.

Riyadh eventually admitted that he was killed in a "rogue" extradition operation gone wrong, but it denied any involvement by the Crown Prince. Five were given death sentences, which were commuted to 20 years in prison after they were forgiven by Khashoggi's family, while three others were given jail terms.

Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper who had been critical of the Saudi government, was slain inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Amid global calls for a thorough and transparent investigation into what happened, the US Congress passed a defence bill in December 2019 that included a provision requiring the DNI to release within 30 days an unclassified report on the murder.

With files from Reuters.

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