(The AEGIS Alliance) – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince seemingly authorized the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a newly declassified U.S. intelligence report revealed on Friday. The discovery may put increasing pressure on the Biden administration to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for a murder that drew widespread outrage within the U.S. and internationally.
The public blaming of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman amounted to an unprecedented rebuke and was prone to set the tone for the new administration’s relationship with a country President Joe Biden has criticized but that the White House additionally regards in some contexts as a strategic U.S. ally. However, a majority of Americans and many abroad have condemned the ongoing genocidal war in Yemen.
The conclusion that the prince authorized an operation to kill or seize Khashoggi, a critic of his authoritarian consolidation of power, was primarily based on what intelligence officers find out about his position in decision-making inside Saudi Arabia in addition to the involvement of one of his key advisers, Saud al-Qahtani, and members of his protective detail, the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence says. Officials also factored in the prince’s previous assistance for utilizing violent measures to silence dissidents in other countries, the report stated.
As Democrats in Congress clamored for aggressive action, the State Department responded by asserting visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals involved in threatening international dissidents.
“As a matter of safety for all within our borders, perpetrators targeting perceived dissidents on behalf of any foreign government should not be permitted to reach American soil,” stated Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The declassified document was released at some point after a later-than-usual courtesy call from Biden to Saudi King Salman, although a White House summary of the dialog made no mention of the killing and stated as an alternative that the men had talked about the nations’ longstanding partnership. The kingdom’s state-run Saudi Press Agency similarly didn’t point out Khashoggi’s killing in its report in regards to the call, it instead focused on regional issues such as Iran and the continued genocide in Yemen.
The milder tone on the call was in contrast to Biden’s pledge as a candidate to make Saudi Arabia “a pariah” over the killing.
Once in office, Biden has stated he would preserve whatever scale of relations with Saudi Arabia that U.S. interests required. He additionally ordered an end to U.S. assistance for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and mentioned he would cease the sale of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia. He’s given few details of what weapons and help he meant.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki informed reporters Friday that the administration has been clear that it’ll “recalibrate our relationship” with Saudi Arabia. Democrats, in the meantime, pressed for strong action.
Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, urged the Biden administration to make sure the report results in “serious repercussions against all of the responsible parties it has identified, and also reassess our relationship with Saudi Arabia.” And Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and Intelligence Committee member called for penalties for the prince akin to sanctions, and additionally for the Saudi kingdom as a whole.
Khashoggi had gone to the Saudi consulate to pick up documents needed for his wedding ceremony. Once inside, he died by the hands of over a dozen Saudi security and intelligence officers and others who had assembled before he arrived. Surveillance cameras had tracked his route and those of his alleged killers in Istanbul within the hours leading up to his killing.
A Turkish bug planted in the consulate reportedly captured the sound of a forensic saw, operated by a Saudi colonel who was also a forensics professional, dismembering Khashoggi’s body within an hour after he entered the building. The whereabouts of his remains are still unknown.
The prince stated in 2019 he took “full responsibility” for the killing because it occurred on his watch, however, he denied ordering it. Saudi officials have stated Khashoggi’s killing was the work of rogue Saudi security and intelligence officials. Saudi Arabian courts last year announced they’d sentenced eight Saudi nationals to prison for Khashoggi’s killing. They have not been identified.
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.