British intelligence officials reportedly knew about Saudi Arabia’s plans to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi to prevent him from revealing a bombshell about the country’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen and even tried begging them not to go through with it.
A new report from the U.K.’s Express noted that Britain knew three weeks in advance that Saudi Arabia had planned to murder the Washington Post journalist.
“We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr. Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge,” the unnamed intelligence source told the newspaper.
“These details included primary orders to capture Mr. Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem.”
The report cited separate intelligence sources who claimed that Britain intercepted communications that came directly from a “member of the royal circle” to abduct Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia. The implication was that Saudi Arabia would be able to kill Khashoggi once he was brought back to the country he had been exiled from for the last two years.
The official claimed that British intelligence also knew the day before Khashoggi’s murder that a group of Saudi agents had traveled to Istanbul, and tried to let Saudi Arabia know that they were aware of the country’s intentions with the exiled journalist.
“Through channels we warned that this was not a good idea,” the source claimed.
“Subsequent events show that our warning was ignored.”
After several weeks of denials and an initial explanation that Khashoggi was killed in a fist fight, Saudi Arabian officials this week admitted that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated.
The report sheds new light on those initial denials, which apparently came as intelligence members already knew the truth about his murder. It also reveals more of a potential motive, as Saudi Arabia may have been trying to prevent Khashoggi from publishing a story revealing the use of chemical weapons in the country’s military actions in Yemen.
There was apparently other evidence that the team sent to Istanbul to intercept Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate was sent with the explicit orders to murder him. A report this week claimed that the team was overheard celebrating the operation while in a taxi on the way to leaving the country.