President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday released a U.S. intelligence report that said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to caption or kill Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization,” the report concluded.
Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post contributor who had criticized the Saudi royal family, was murder and dismembered at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018. His remains were never found.
“The Crown Prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him,” the new report said. “Although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him.”
Shortly after Khashoggi was killed, the CIA concluded the crown prince himself had ordered the assassination.
The report, based on previously classified information, was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as President Joe Biden has signaled a shift in U.S. ties to Saudi Arabia particularly over the kingdom’s history of human rights abuses.
“On Saudi Arabia I would say we’ve made clear from the beginning that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
That serves as a departure from the warm relationship the Crown Prince had with Donald Trump. Last September, journalist Bob Woodward said Trump told him he “saved” the crown prince in the aftermath of the Khashoggi’s killing by shielding him from congressional rebuke and possible sanctions. “I saved his ass,” Woodward recounted Trump saying while reporting for his book “Rage.” “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.”