The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi journalist in…
The CIA has concluded that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi journalist in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s allegations that he was not involved in killing, according to people familiar with the matter.  The CIA’s assessment, where officials have said that they have high confidence, are the most definitive so far that links Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to maintain its relationship with close covenants. A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on state aircraft in October, killing Khashoggi within the Saudi consulate, where he had come to retrieve documents he needed for his planned marriage with a Turkish woman.
When it came to their conclusions, the CIA investigated several sources of intelligence, including a phone call that Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabian ambassador in the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people who were familiar with the question that spoke on Terms of anonymity to discuss intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, to go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and assure him that it would be safe to do so.
It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he called for his brother’s direction, according to the people who knew the conversation, as intercepted by the United States intelligence.
Fatimah Baeshen, a spokesman for the Saudi embassy in Washington, said the ambassador and Khashoggi never discussed “something that is related to traveling to Turkey.” She added that allegations in the CIA’s “alleged assessment are fake. We have and continue to hear different theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.”
The CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the Authority’s assessment of the prince as the country’s actual ruler, which also oversees minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that nothing has happened without being aware or involved,” said a US official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.
The CIA sees Mohammed as a “good technician,” said the US official, but also as volatile and arrogant, someone who “goes from zero to 60, does not seem to understand that there are some things you can not do.”
CIA analysts believe he has a firm grip on power and is not in danger of losing his status as heir to the throne despite the Khashoggi scandal. “Overall agreement is that he will likely survive,” said the official, adding that Muhammad’s role as a future Saudi king is “for granted”.
A CIA spokesman refused to comment.
Over For several weeks, the Saudis has offered several contradictory explanations of what happened to the consulate. This week, the Saudi prosecutor accused the operation of a crook of operators sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, in an operation that naturally aroused when the journalist “was forced to resist and injected with a large amount of drug resulted in an overdose that led to his death, “according to a prosecutor’s office.
The prosecutor announced allegations against 11 alleged participants and said he would apply for death penalty against five of them.
The Khashoggi assassination, a prominent critic of Mohammad’s policy, has triggered a foreign policy crisis for the White House and raised questions about the government’s trust in Saudi Arabia as an important ally in the Middle East.
President Trump has opposed pinning the blame for the killing of Mohammed, who has a close relationship with Jared Kushner, president’s son-in-law and senior advisor. Private, said deputy, Trump has proven to prove the Prince’s involvement but is still skeptical that Mohammed ordered the killing.
The president has also asked the CIA and government officials at the Khashoggi body, and has been frustrated that they have been unable to provide an answer. The CIA does not know the location of Khashoggi residues, according to the people who are familiar with the Agency’s assessment.
Among the notifications that the CIA compiled is an audio recording from a listening unit that the Turks were placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to those familiar with the question. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of the sound, and the agency director Gina Haspel has listened to it.
The sound shows that Khashoggi was killed within minutes to enter the consulate, according to officials in several countries who listened to it or have been informed about the content. Khashoggi died in the office of the Saudi consulate general who can be heard expressing his dissatisfaction that Khashoggi’s body must now be discarded and the plant is cleaned by some evidence, according to people familiar with the sound recording.
The CIA also investigated a call placed inside the consulate after being killed by an alleged member of the Saudi Arabian team, Maher Mutreb, a security officer who has often seen the crown prince who was photographed and left the consulate on the day of killing.
Mutreb called Saud al-Qahtani, then one of Muhammad’s top assistants, and informed him that the operation had been completed, according to people familiar with the conversation.
This week, the state department was sanctioned 17 people said it was involved in Khashoggi’s death, including Qahtani, Mutreb and the Saudi consulate in Turkey, Mohammad al-Otaibi.
The CIA’s assessment of Mohammed’s role in the Murder also tracks information developed by foreign governments, according to officials of several European capitals who have concluded that surgery was for the brazen to have taken place without Mohammed’s direction.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that his government has shared the sound with Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to talks and audio recordings, CIA analysts also linked some members of the Saudi team to Mohammed himself. Some of the 15 members have served on their security team and traveled in the US during visits by senior Saudi officials, including the Crown Prince, according to passports reviewed by the Washington Post.
The United States had also received intelligence before Khashoggi’s death which showed that he could be in danger. But it was only after he disappeared on October 2 that US intelligence services began to search archives of intercepted messages and discovered material indicating that the Saudi royal family had attempted to attract Khashoggi back to Riyadh.
Two US officials said there was no indication that officials were aware of this intelligence before Khashoggi’s disappearance or had missed a chance to warn him.
Khashoggi “was not an interesting” before his disappearance and the fact that he was living in Virginia meant that he was considered an American person and therefore protected from the US intelligence service, one of the officials said.
Trump has told senior officials in the White House that he wants Mohammed to remain power because Saudi Arabia helps to control Iran, which the Administration considers to be the biggest security challenge in the Middle East. He has said he does not want the controversy over Khashoggi death to hamper oil production of the realm.
A long-term question is why Mohammed could have decided to kill Khashoggi, who did not stir up for the crown prince’s removal.
A theory developed by the CIA is that Mohammed believed that Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist who was sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to people who know the judgment. The days after Khashoggi disappeared, Mohammed conveyed that perception in a telephone conversation with Kushner and John Bolton, the National Security Adviser, who have long opposed the brotherhood and seen it as a regional security threat.
Muhammad’s private condemnation of the slain journalist contradicted his government’s public comments, which killed Khashoggi’s death as a “terrible mistake” and a “tragedy.”
US officials are unclear when or whether the Saudi government will follow through threatened executions of those who blame Khashoggi’s killing. “It may happen overnight or take 20 years,” said the US official, adding that the treatment of subordinates could eradicate Mohammed’s standing forward.
When killing those who followed their orders, “it’s hard to get the next set [of subordinates] to help,” said the official.
John Hudson and Missy Ryan in Washington, Souad Mekhennet in Frankfurt and Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.