The CIA has found that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 texts to his adviser who oversaw the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to a new report.
Since Khashoggi’s grisly murder in Istanbul’s Saudi embassy in early October, there has been widespread speculation on whether or not the Saudi crown prince was directly involved in giving the orders for his death. While Saudi Arabia has repeatedly maintained that its de facto head had nothing to do with the murder of dissident journalist Khashoggi, who was forced to flee his country in 2017 after writing articles critical of his country’s administration, evidence gathered by Turkey and now CIA has indicated that he was, in fact, deeply instrumental in the journalist’s murder.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports that CIA has found evidence showing Mohammed bin Salman was in touch with the adviser tasked with overseeing the murder of Khashoggi. At least 11 texts from the crown prince to his adviser have been recovered, according to the Journal. Other communications from bin Salman to his associates have also been recovered by the CIA, some of them dating back to last year when the plan was reportedly first hatched.
One excerpt shows Mohammed bin Salman telling associates in August 2017 that “we could possibly lure [Khashoggi] outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” if the crown prince could not convince Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia.
The report noted that although the nature of the communications showed that it came from MbS himself, the excerpts could also have been from someone describing the communications.
Another excerpt shows that the CIA has “medium-to-high confidence” that Mohammed bin Salman “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.”
However, the Journal also added a disclaimer, pointing out that they couldn’t be absolutely sure about whether the crown prince directly ordered Khashoggi’s killing.
“To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order,” said the report.
But most importantly, the report shows that there were clear lines of communication between Mohammed bin Salman and his top adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, who was tasked with overseeing the killing. At least 11 messages exchanged between the two at the time of the murder have been recovered. He has already been sanctioned by the White House for his role in Khashoggi’s killing.
The fallout from Khashoggi’s killing is stark, with the U.S. Senate voting to end funding for Saudi’s military excursions in war-torn Yemen last week.