Saudi Arabia‘s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told a top aide he would use ‘a bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi one year before the Saudi journalist was killed in October.
According to a report by The New York Times, American intelligence agencies intercepted a 2017 conversation between the crown prince and his aide which revealed bin Salman’s frustration over Khashoggi’s criticism of the Saudi government and his refusal to return to the kingdom from the US.
CIA officials ruled in November that Khashoggi’s killing was likely ordered by bin Salman himself, however this report is the most direct evidence that ties the crown prince to the assassination.
The report comes one day before a congressional deadline for the White House to submit a report on whether the crown prince did in fact order Khashoggi’s killing and if it intends to impose sanctions on the de facto ruler.
A new report finds Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told a top aide he would use ‘a bullet’ on Khashoggi during a 2017 conversation
The United States has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the journalist’s death, but U.S. President Donald Trump has said he stands by the crown prince.
American intelligence agencies intercepted the conversation where bin Salman expressed frustration over Khashoggi’s criticism of the kingdom
US intelligence analysts have interpreted the ‘bullet’ comment metaphorically, meaning the crown prince did not necessarily mean to have Khashoggi shot, but they do think it showed his intent to have the journalist killed if he did not return to the kingdom, the Times said.
The kingdom has denied Mohammed had prior knowledge of the killing at a Saudi consulate in Turkey and said in January it would seek the death penalty for five people allegedly involved.
His remains have not been found and it is feared his body could have been dissolved in acid after being cut into pieces by a Saudi hit squad.
On Thursday, a UN human rights official determined the Washington Post columnist was murdered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in a ‘brutal and premeditated killing’ carried out by Saudi officials
A Saudi public prosecutor’s spokesman said late last year that 21 Saudis had been taken into custody over the case, 11 of whom had been indicted and referred to trial. The prosecutor has said authorities were seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 indicted suspects.
CCTV footage emerged in December allegedly showing Jamal Khashoggi’s body parts being carried into Saudi Arabia’s consul residence in bags and suitcases on the day he was murdered.
The images feature three men carrying five suitcases and two large black bags into the home of the Saudi consul general in Istanbul, Turkey.
The residence lies a short distance from the Saudi consulate where Khashoggi was butchered in a killing that has tested Riyadh’s relations with the West.
The former Saudi insider turned critic was strangled before he was cut up into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul for the killing, according to Turkish officials, with media reports suggesting the parts were dissolved in acid.
The consulate and the residence were searched by the Turkish authorities in October along with several other locations but Khashoggi’s body has still not been found.
Saudi Arabia has also repeatedly rejected Turkish demands to extradite suspects connected to the murder of the journalist, a critic of the crown prince.
The journalist had decided to leave his native Saudi Arabia for the US in September 2017, but was lured to the embassy in Istanbul on in October 2018 to collect papers for his upcoming marriage.
Listening devices planted inside the building by Turkish intelligence captured the ‘kill squad’ planning the murder in the days before and carrying it out on October 2.