Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit squad operating under the command of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), United States intelligence agencies concluded.
A unclassified US intelligence report released on Friday confirms for the first time what role top US intelligence officials believe Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler played in the 2018 killing of the Saudi journalist.
Former US President Donald Trump’s administration held back the long-awaited report despite a 2019 law passed by Congress requiring its release.
Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post newspaper who had been critical of the Saudi government, was slain inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
Saudi officials have denied MBS had any role in the assassination.
White House officials said the Biden administration would announce actions taken in response to the killing of Khashoggi after the report was released.
Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization,” the report said.
At the time of the Khashoggi’s murder, MBS had “probably fostered an environment in which aides were afraid that failure to complete assigned tasks might results in him firing or arresting them,” the report said.
MBS viewed Khashoggi “as a threat to the Kingdom” it said.The four-page report names 21 individuals who participated in or were otherwise complicit in the Khashoggi’s death. While the operation in Istanbul was pre-planned, US intelligence authorities said they do not know when the decision to harm him was made.
“We do not know whether these individuals knew in advance that the operation would result in Khashoggi’s death,” the report said