MBS told a top aid he would use “a bullet”on the journalist if he continued to criticize Saudi Arabia.
A U.S. intelligence agency reports reveal that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) threatened to have journalist Jamal Khashoggi killed in 2017.
According to both current and former U.S. foreign officials, MBS told a top aid, Saud al-Qahtani, he would use “a bullet”on the Washington Post journalist if he continued to refuse to return to Saudi Arabia and end his criticism of the Arabic government, the New Tork Times reports.
Allegedly Al-Qahtani, who was sanctioned shortly after Khashoggi's death in October, cautioned MBS from acting hastily due to the journalist's popularity.
Khashoggi, a dissident journalist from Saudi Arabia went into a self-imposed exile to the United States one year ago, when MBS started his widespread crackdown on dissenters.
He went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to get papers for his marriage where he was tortured, killed, and dismembered.
After three weeks of denial, the kingdom accepted that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate but claimed the crown prince had no knowledge of the ‘rogue operation’ conducted by 15 high-profile Saudi officials who flew to Turkey the same day Khashoggi went to the consulate.
The CIA briefed U.S. officials in Novembeer, revealing their suspicions that MBS ordered Khashoggi’s assassination in Istanbul.
The conversation is one of the most recent establishments in a heavy search of the prince’s voice and text communications intercepted by the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) and is the strongest link, connecting him to the gruesome murder.
After an inquiry on Thursday, the United Nations denounced the brutal murder as “planned and perpetrated” by Saudi officials.
“Evidence collected during my mission to Turkey shows prime facie case that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials of the State of Saudi Arabia,” Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur for extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, said in statement issued in Geneva.
She said her Jan 28-Feb 3 mission to Turkey with a team of three experts “could not firmly establish whether the original intention was to abduct Mr. Khashoggi, with his murder planned only in the eventuality of this abduction failing.”
Saudi officials had “seriously undermined” and delayed Turkey’s efforts to investigate the crime scene at its Istanbul consulate, where Khashoggi had gone to get papers needed for his wedding, she said.
Neither the Saudi government communications office nor Turkey’s foreign ministry gave immediate responses to requests for comment on the report.