U.S. Intelligence Documents Accuse Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Of Directing Jamal Khashoggi Murder
The United States intelligence community released documents on Friday accusing Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of approving the assassination operation of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The CIA originally assessed soon after Khashoggi’s killing in 2018 with high confidence that crown prince Salman personally ordered the kill. The United Nations agreed saying it was “inconceivable” that Salman wasn’t aware of the operation, which was his initial claim. Friday’s briefing also led the U.S. Treasury to institute sanctions on Saudi Arabia.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement Friday, “those involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi must be held accountable. With this action, Treasury is sanctioning Saudi Arabia’s Rapid Intervention Force and a senior Saudi official who was directly involved in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. The United States stands united with journalists and political dissidents in opposing threats of violence and intimidation. We will continue to defend the freedom of expression, which is the bedrock of a free society.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated last week that President Joe Biden intends to “re-calibrate” America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia not through crown prince Salman, but rather through his father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
Other evidence of Salman’s involvement has also come to light recently. A Canadian civil lawsuit filed in 2021 asserts that the two private planes used to ferry assassins of Khashoggi were owned by a company which was acquired by Prince bin Salman.
“According to the instruction of His Highness the Crown Prince,” wrote a minister for Salman, “immediately approve the completion of the necessary procedures for this.”
Court documents relay that ownership of Sky Prime Aviation was transferred to Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in 2017, placing them under the control of the crown prince. Two planes from the company, then solely controlled by Salman, were used to ferry Khashoggi’s assassins.
The connection between the aviation company and the crown prince came as a part of an embezzlement suit from Saudi-owned companies in Canada against former Saudi intelligence officer, Saad Aljabri. Aljabri himself filed suit against the crown prince in 2020, believing Salman attempted to have him assassinated in Canada.
Faisal Gill, the lawyer representing Khashoggi’s fiance said in a statement they were “pleasantly surprised” that Salman’s control of Sky Prime Aviation has entered public record. “[Salman] wanted to use a company that he controls, in a fund that he absolutely controls in hopes that it would not get out,” Gill said. “That to me is not only a direct line to him killing Jamal but also a direct line of him trying to cover it up using an aviation company that he absolutely has full control of.”