Based on available intelligence, the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman likely ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, contradicting the Saudi government’s claim that he was not involved in the killing.
A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate, where he had gone to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman, the Washington Post reports.
CIA officials said they have high confidence in the assessment they carried out on the murder of Khashoggi. It is the most definitive assessment to date, linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with Saudi, a close ally.
To arrive at it’s conclusions, CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, who is the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi. During the call, Khalid told Khashoggi that he should go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents he needed for his wedding and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.
It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
The CIA also arrived at their conclusion based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom.
“The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.