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CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi murder, report claims

November 17, 2018

The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi a finding that would sharply contradict Riyadh’s claim that the crown prince was not involved.

The CIA’s conclusions were laid bare in a report in the WashingtonPost. The CIA would neither confirm nor deny the report Friday.

Sources familiar with a U.S. intelligence probe into Mr. Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul said the CIA has assessed with high confidence that the killing was directed by Crown Prince Mohammed, according to the report by The Washington Post, for which Mr. Khashoggi contributed opinion columns prior to his death.

CIA Director Gina Haspel has been personally involved in the agency’s examination of the Khashoggi case, which has challenged the Trump administration’s close relationship with Riyadh over concerns the 33-year-old crown prince may be an unreliable ally. Last month saw Ms. Haspel travel to Turkey to meet with Turkish officials over the matter.

Citing people familiar with the CIA’s examination who spoke on the condition of anonymity, The Post maintained that the agency reached its conclusion based on an examination of multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the crown prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Mr. Khashoggi.

Mr. Khalid told Mr. Khashoggi, whose columns for The Post last year were often critical of Crown Prince Mohammed, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve documents required for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

It’s unclear whether Mr. Khalid knew that Mr. Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to people familiar with the call, which The Post reported was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.

The CIA declined to comment on Friday night. “We have no comment on this,” a spokesperson with the agency’s office of public affairs told The Washington Times. “We’re not commenting one way or another. We’re not disputing it and we’re not, not disputing it. We have no comment.”

Saudi officials pushed back hard at the purported CIA findings. Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told The Post that Mr. Khalid and Mr. Khashoggi never discussed “anything related to going to Turkey.” She added that the claims in the CIA’s “purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for thesespeculations.”

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