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World US to release report fingering Saudi prince in Khashoggi murder

08:38  26 february  2021
08:38  26 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

Release of intelligence report on Khashoggi killing could push already strained U.S.-Saudi relations to new lows

  Release of intelligence report on Khashoggi killing could push already strained U.S.-Saudi relations to new lows The Biden administration had promised to release a summary of intelligence findings that conclude the Saudi crown prince ordered the 2018 slaying of the journalist. The report, an unclassified summary of findings across the intelligence community produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will be made public as early as next week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The US director of national intelligence is expected to release a damning report Friday that fingers Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the brutal murder and dismemberment of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018.

Jamal Khashoggi wearing a hat: Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by Saudi agents in the country's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 © MOHAMMED AL-SHAIKH Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered by Saudi agents in the country's consulate in Istanbul in October 2018

The classified report is believed to say that, based on intelligence collected by the CIA and other spy bodies, the kingdom's de facto leader directed the assassination of the respected US-based writer in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Biden says he has read report on Khashoggi murder

  Biden says he has read report on Khashoggi murder President Biden said Wednesday that he has read the report on the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi."Yes, I have," Biden told reporters in the State Dining Room after signing an executive order on the economy, without elaborating further.The Biden administration is expected to soon release an unclassified version of the report on Khashoggi's death. Biden also said that he would speak with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, but did not offer a timeline or confirm reports that the call would take place on Wednesday."I'm going to be talking to him, I have not spoken to him yet," Biden said.The release of the report is likely to complicate the U.S.

Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud in a hat using a cell phone: US intelligence concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 © Bandar AL-JALOUD US intelligence concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018

The prince has steadfastly denied a part in the murder, even as some of his closest advisors have been shown to be deeply involved.

Intent on strengthening relations with Riyadh, previous US president Donald Trump's administration avoided making the report public or naming Prince Mohammed in the case.

Its declassification and release comes just as President Joe Biden endeavors to reset US relations in the Middle East and return principles of human rights to a prominent position in US policy.

Ahead of the release, Biden spoke on the telephone Thursday with Saudi King Salman, Prince Mohammed's father, in their first discussion since he became president five weeks ago.

Saudi Crown Prince Approved Plan for Khashoggi Death, U.S. Finds

  Saudi Crown Prince Approved Plan for Khashoggi Death, U.S. Finds Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed off on the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a U.S. intelligence report released Friday. © Photographer: Nicolas Asfouri/Getty Images Prince Mohammed bin Salman “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the report concluded. The report builds on classified intelligence from the CIA and other agencies after Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

A White House statement on the call did not mention the Khashoggi report, but Biden said Wednesday that he had read it.

- High confidence -

A respected veteran Saudi journalist and editor, Khashoggi was in self-exile and residing in the United States, writing articles critical of the crown prince when he was assassinated on October 2, 2018.

The 59-year-old writer had been told by Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States to go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul if he wanted to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage to a Turkish woman, Hatice Cengiz.

There, he was killed and his body dismembered by a team sent from Riyadh under the direction of a top aide to Prince Mohammed, Saud al-Qahtani.

Just one month after the murder, the US Central Intelligence Agency concluded with high confidence that Prince Mohammed had ordered the assassination, according to The Washington Post.

Saudi crown prince 'approved' Khashoggi murder operation: US intel report

  Saudi crown prince 'approved' Khashoggi murder operation: US intel report The U.S. on Friday released a declassified intelligence report finding that the Saudi crown prince 'approved' an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The brutal killing has roiled the United States' longstanding ties with Saudi Arabia, and President Joe Biden has vowed to recalibrate the relationship after his predecessor Donald Trump shielded the kingdom from U.S. pressure.

But, determined to maintain strong relations with Riyadh, Trump would not publicly hold the Saudi strongman responsible, even as the US government demanded the perpetrators be punished.

According to the Post -- for which Khashoggi regularly wrote -- US intelligence had several key pieces of evidence pointing to Prince Mohammed.

One was a phone call from Prince Mohammed to his brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, that was monitored by US intelligence.

In that call, Prince Mohammed instructed his brother to tell Khashoggi to go to Istanbul to obtain the documents he needed for his marriage.

Another piece of evidence was a recording of the murder from inside the Istanbul consulate made by Turkish intelligence, which made clear what happened, helped identify the participants and showed communications between them and Riyadh.

- Denials -

The prince has denied ordering or knowing about the plot to kill Khashoggi.

But few observers of Saudi Arabia believe the murder could have taken place without the knowledge of Prince Mohammed, a calculating strongman who has jailed a number of critics and locked up competing factions in the royal family.

Under heavy pressure from the United States and the international community, the Saudi government put some of the perpetrators on trial.

The closed-door trial exonerated the two officials widely seen as the masterminds: Qahtani, the royal court's media adviser, and deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri. Both are part of Prince Mohammed's inner circle.

But five unnamed defendants were sentenced to death and three others given stiff prison terms.

Nine months later, however, the death sentences were withdrawn by the court and replaced with sentences of up to 20 years.

Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders both branded the case a "parody of justice."

But it assuaged the Trump administration, whose main action was to place 17 suspects in the case, including Qahtani but not Assiri, on its sanctions blacklist.

pmh/to/gle

Despite Khashoggi's Murder, America Must Still Choose: Saudis or Iran? | Opinion .
Simply put, the United States has a binary choice in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. can swallow hard and stick with MBS and thereby support an unsavory ally who is nevertheless a force for internal moderation, acceptance of Israel and opposition to Iranian aggression. Or it can ditch the Saudis and thereby strengthen their Iranian enemies, who pose a direct threat to not just American interests, but to the stability of every moderate Arab regime in the region as well as to Israel (which Tehran has pledged to annihilate).

usr: 0
This is interesting!