Saudi crown prince 'approved' Khashoggi's...
US intelligence agencies have concluded in a newly declassified intelligence report that Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, approved a plan to either "capture or kill" Khashoggi. The four-page report confirmed the long-suspected view that the 35-year-old future king had a personal hand in the violent murder of one of his most prominent critics, a columnist and former Saudi insider who was living in exile in the US and used his platform to decry the prince’s crackdown on dissent.
The intelligence report lists three reasons for believing that the crown prince must have approved the operation:
- His control of decision-making in the kingdom since 2017
- The direct involvement in the operation of one of his advisers as well as members of his protective detail
- His "support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad"
Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Oct. 2018, murdered, and dismembered.
The US announced sanctions on dozens of Saudis but not the prince himself.
Some reactions to the report
The Saudi government has denied that the crown prince was involved, instead blaming a rogue team of government agents. In a statement issued after the report's release, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Saudi government "completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom's leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions."
Senator Ron Wyden, who wrote the law that ultimately forced the report to be published, said there was “no question” in his mind that more should be declassified. He added that more needed to be understood about the Saudi royal’s relationship with Donald Trump, whom he accused of covering up the murder as part of his “transactional” relationship with Saudi Arabia. Wyden’s call for personal sanctions against Prince Mohammed were echoed by Agnès Callamard, the special rapporteur for extrajudicial killings who investigated the murder.
“The United States government should impose sanctions against the Crown Prince, as it has done for the other perpetrators – targeting his personal assets but also his international engagements,” Callamard said. “I call on the government of Saudi Arabia to disclose whether his remains were destroyed onsite or how and where they were disposed. The individuals responsible know only too well the specifics and, in the face of the Saudis’ unconscionable silence, the international community must exert pressure for full disclosure of all the facts.”
“The United States government must re-evaluate and recalibrate the relationship with Saudi Arabia, given the findings of this report, which are part of a disturbing pattern of human rights abuses from the Kingdom.” Said Nancy Pelosi, democratic speaker of the US House of Representatives.
Canadian foreign minister Marc Garneau stated: “(This) was a murderous act, a despicable act. ... We will look at the report that has been issued today but the fact remains that Canada wants the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to allow a full inquiry so we can get to the bottom of what actually happened.”
His fiancé also twitted: “Since the day this innocent journalist was brutally murdered, we have called for two important actions: for the facts to come to light and for accountability on the part of those responsible. Today’s release of the report has brought the facts to light. Now, the man who authorized this brutal murder must be held fully accountable for it.”
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), the US-Based rights group founded by Khashoggi, thanked the Biden administration for “transparency” but urged for the imposition of sanctions on MBS. “President Biden should now fulfil his promise to hold MBS accountable for this murder by, at minimum, imposing the same sanctions on him as those imposed on his underling culprits and ending the weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia that would be controlled by an unelected, brutal murderer.” Said the group’s Executive Director Sarah Leah Whitson.