U.S. officially points the finger at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi killing


Category:  World News

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  10 months ago  •  1 comments

By:   Ken Dilanian

U.S. officially points the finger at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi killing
A U.S. intel report made public Friday concludes that Saudi Arabia's de facto leader approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

WASHINGTON — A long-awaited American intelligence report made public Friday concludes that the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia approved the gruesome political killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist who lived in Virginia and wrote for the Washington Post.

While that overall conclusion by the CIA and other agencies about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was first reported two years ago, its official publication on U.S. government letterhead shines a spotlight on the dilemma facing President Joe Biden, who has emphasized the importance of human rights in foreign policy but is not prepared to cut ties with a key American ally.

"We base this assessment on the Crown Prince's control of decision-making in the Kingdom," the report said, "the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Mohammed bin Salman's protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince's support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi."


U.S. to release public report blaming Saudi crown prince for journalist's murder

The document released Friday is a sparse, page-and-a-half executive summary of a larger classified intelligence assessment.

The confidence levels assigned to the judgments — generally expressed as high, moderate or low — appear to have been blacked out.

The analysis doesn't cite particular intelligence, but offers broad analytical statements. For example, it notes that "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."

And it says the Saudi team sent to kill Khashoggi in Turkey "included seven members of Mohammed bin Salman's elite personal protective detail, known as the Rapid Intervention Force," which "exists to defend the crown prince, answers only to him, and had directly participated in earlier dissident suppression operations in the Kingdom and abroad at the crown prince's direction. We judge that members of the RIF would not have participated in the operation against Khashoggi without Mohammed bin Salman's approval."

The crown prince, the assessment says, "viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him. Although Saudi officials had pre-planned an unspecified operation against Khashoggi, we do not know how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him."

On Friday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken also announced that 76 Saudi individuals alleged to have harassed dissidents were subject to visa restrictions, and the Treasury Department sanctioned the Rapid Intervention Force, or RIF, also known as the Tiger Squad, and the former deputy head of Saudi intelligence.

"Those involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi must be held accountable," said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. "The United States stands united with journalists and political dissidents in opposing threats of violence and intimidation."

In a statement, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said: "For too long, the United States failed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the brutal murder of journalist, dissident, and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi. I'm encouraged to see the new administration taking steps to rectify that by releasing this long-overdue congressionally mandated report into his killing."

As it became clear the intelligence assessment would be released this week, the Biden administration sought to balance American ideals and American interests, emphasizing a "recalibration" with Saudi Arabia even as officials acknowledged they would still be doing business with a key partner in the fights against terrorism and Iran.

"We've made clear from the beginning that we are going to recalibrate our relationship with Saudi Arabia," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters this week.

Blinken spoke by phone with his Saudi counterpart Thursday, after which Biden had a call with King Salman, the crown prince's father.

The signal was clear: The Biden administration wants to keep MBS, as he is known, at arms length. How that will work going forward remains to be seen. King Salman is 85, and MBS, at the moment, is his heir.

In November 2019 Biden promised to make the Saudis "pay" for the killing of Khashoggi, as he answered a question from Andrea Mitchell of NBC News during a Democratic debate.

"We were going to in fact make them pay the price, and make them in fact the pariah that they are," Biden said.

But experts say that is not realistic.

"The world economy still needs that Saudi oil, even if we don't need it here in the U.S. per se, and the Saudis need our military protection, and we don't want them to lose a war against Iran," Middle East expert Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution told CNBC's Shepard Smith Thursday evening. "We are not going to make the Saudis a pariah nation, if what you hear by that word, as I do, is North Korea or Iran itself or some other extremist government."

O'Hanlon added, "The two sides need each other."

Still, the decision to release the declassified intelligence summary — which had been mandated in a law passed by Congress and sought in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit — represents a clear break by Biden with former President Donald Trump's policy of equivocating about the Saudi state's role in a brutal killing that was widely condemned by members of Congress, journalists and a U.N. investigator.

The president confirmed to reporters late Wednesday that he had read the intelligence report.

Khashoggi, 59, was a Saudi citizen working as a Washington Post columnist when he was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, and killed by a team of intelligence operatives with close ties to the crown prince. His body was dismembered in part with a bone saw, American officials have said, and the remains have never been found.

After first denying the killing, the Saudi government changed course and asserted that Khashoggi was killed by accident as the team sought to forcibly extradite him. The Saudis say that the team acted on its own and that the crown prince was not involved.

Eight men were convicted in a trial that international observers called a farce; five got the death penalty. Their sentences were commuted to 20 years after they were allegedly forgiven by Khashoggi's relatives.

Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the U.N., accused Saudi Arabia of a "deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law."


Nicholas Kristof: Trump bragging about protecting Saudi Crown prince over Khashoggi's murder 'breaks my heart'

The CIA presented the White House with its assessment in 2018, but it did not appear to change Trump's friendly relations with Saudi Arabia and with the crown prince in particular.

Trump bragged in 2019 that he had protected MBS from congressional scrutiny in recorded interviews with journalist Bob Woodward.

"I saved his ass," Trump said. "I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop."

"Do you believe that he did it?" Woodward asked.

"No, he says that he didn't do it," Trump replied.

Biden has ended American support for Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, but he has not fully severed the military relationship with an important Middle East ally and counterterrorism partner.


jrDiscussion - desc
Professor Quiet
1  mocowgirl    10 months ago

The powers that be in US government had developed ties over decades with the presumed heir to the Saudi throne, Muhammad bin Nayef.  It seems that the US government has not developed the warm fuzzy relationship with the current heir apparent.  It would probably benefit the world if the US government would quit selling arms to nations led by dictators.

Muhammad bin Nayef - Wikipedia

Muhammad [a]   bin Nayef [b]   bin Abdulaziz Al Saud  ( Arabic محمد بن نايف بن عبد العزيز آل سعود ‎  Muḥammad bin Nāyif bin ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Su‘ūd ; born 30 August 1959) is the former  crown prince of Saudi Arabia  and first deputy prime minister from 2015 to 2017 [1]  and  minister of interior  from 2012 to 2017. [

Muhammad bin Nayef studied in the United States. [14]  There he received a bachelor's degree in  political science  in 1981. [15]  He took courses at  Lewis & Clark College , but did not receive a degree. [16]  He attended the  FBI 's security courses from 1985 to 1988, and trained with  Scotland Yard 's anti-terrorism units from 1992 to 1994. [9]

On 5 November 2012, King Abdullah issued a royal decree and dismissed Prince Ahmed as minister of interior and appointed Prince Muhammad to the post. [3]     His appointment was not regarded very positively by human rights activists due to Prince Muhammad's professional experience as a tough enforcer who imprisoned thousands of suspected troublemakers in Saudi Arabia. [30]  However, he was regarded as less corrupt and less likely to abuse his power in comparison to other senior princes of his generation. [30]

Prince Muhammad met with  British Prime Minister   David Cameron  in January 2013. [31]  He then met with U.S. President  Barack Obama  in Washington, D.C. on 14 January 2013. [32]  They discussed issues of security and regional developments. [32]  In late January 2013, Prince Muhammad announced that Saudi women would be allowed to work at the Saudi intelligence agency. [33]

On 10 February 2017, the U.S.  Central Intelligence Agency  (CIA) granted its "George Tenet Medal" to Prince Muhammad for what the agency called his "excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace". The medal, named after  George Tenet , CIA's longest-serving director, from 1996 to 2004, was handed to him by the newly appointed CIA director  Mike Pompeo  during a reception ceremony in Riyadh in the presence of minister of defense Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. It was the first reaffirmation of ties between the Islamic monarchy and United States since President  Donald Trump  took office on 20 January 2017. [36]  

Less than two years after taking office, President Obama and his security team are making massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia "quietly" bypassing congressional approval.

Critics Slam Obama Administration for 'Hiding' Massive Saudi Arms Deal - ABC News (go.com)

Nov. 19, 2010 — -- The Obama administration has quietly forged ahead with its proposal to sell $60 billion worth of fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia unhampered by Congress, despite questions raised in legislative inquiries and in an internal congressional report about the wisdom of the deal.

The massive arms deal would be the single largest sale of weapons to a foreign nation in the history of the U.S., outfitting Saudi Arabia with a fully modernized, potent new air force.

"Our six-decade-long security relationship with Saudi Arabia is a primary security pillar in the region," Defense Sec. Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote in a Nov. 16 letter to congress. "This package continues that tradition."

But some critics are questioning the deal, and the stealthy effort by the Obama administration to avoid a more probing congressional review by notifying Congress last month, just as members were headed home for the November elections. Congress had 30 days to raise objections -- a review period that concludes Saturday. With most members leaving Washington today, any significant effort to block the deal appears dead for now, officials said.

"I do not think there will be any action" to hold up the sale, Rep. Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Bloomberg News Thursday.

Rep. Anthony Weiner, a New York Democrat, submitted a resolution this week to try and block the deal, and was among those who objected to the way the administration approached the required congressional review.

"Hiding this in a recess announcement is a sign of how unpopular it is," he said. "It's bad policy that now is further tainted by shameful process."

The arrangement would ship 84 F-15 fighter jets and more than 175 attack helicopters to the Saudis over the next 15 years. The choppers, in particular, would "bolster Saudi Arabia's counterterrorism capabilities," Gates and Clinton wrote in their letter this week to congressional leaders.

It would probably benefit the world if the US government would quit selling arms to nations led by dictators...especially in the Middle East.  It would be really nice if the US could spend the next 4 years healing our citizens and economy instead of causing more scars and devastation by waging never ending war in the Middle East.

Obama’s Final Arms-Export Tally More than Doubles Bush’s - Defense One

The Obama administration has approved more than $278 billion in foreign arms sales in its eight years, more than double the total of the previous administration, according to figures   released   by the Pentagon on Tuesday.

Many of the approved deals — most but hardly all of which have become actual sales — have been to Mideast nations, including key allies in the campaign against Islamic State militants and countries that have been building up their defenses in fear of a nuclear Iran.

Saudi Arabia has been the largest recipient, reaping prospective deals worth more than $115 billion, according to   notices   announcing the deals that were sent to Congress for approval.

“Nobody even comes close” for the number of deals and total value, said William Hartung, director of the Arms Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

Among the weapons approved for Riyadh: F-15 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters, Blackhawk utility helicopters, missile interceptors, armored vehicles and bombs and missiles.

But Hartung noted that only about half of those approvals have so far resulted in actual contracts. For instance, the administration   approved   an $11.25 billion sale of four Lockheed Martin Multi-Mission Surface Combatants last year, but the Saudis have yet to place an order for the warships.


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