Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to capture or kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, according to a submitted to Congress.
Fifty-nine-year-old Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist who lived in the US as a legal permanent resident and wrote for the Washington Post, was critical of the prince’s policies and was killed in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in the Turkish city on October 2, 2018.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in the report that at the time of the Khashoggi murder, the prince probably fostered an environment in which aides were afraid that failure to complete assigned tasks might result in him firing or arresting them.
This suggests that the aides were unlikely to question the prince’s orders or undertake sensitive actions without his consent, said the report dated February 11, a declassified portion of which was submitted to Congress on Friday.
“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Khashoggi,” it said.
ODNI said it bases the assessment on the prince’s control of decision making in the Saudi Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation and his support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.
“Since 2017, the crown prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organisations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the prince’s authorisation,” stated the report.
Soon after the report’s submission, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the “Khashoggi Ban” that imposes visa restrictions on 76 Saudi individuals believed to have been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.