Posted on Nov 17, 2018
The CIA believes that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, complicating President Donald Trump’s efforts to preserve ties with a key USA ally.
The sources said the CIA had briefed other parts of the US government, including Congress, on its assessment, which contradicts Saudi government assertions that Prince Mohammed was not involved.
The CIA’s finding, first reported by the Washington Post, is the most definitive US assessment to date tying Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler directly to the killing.
The Saudi Embassy in Washington rejected the CIA assessment.
“The claims in this purported assessment is false,” a spokeswoman for the embassy said in a statement. “We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.”
USA Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to Papua New Guinea, told reporters travelling with him that he could not comment on classified information.
“The murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity. It was also an affront to a free and independent press and the United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder,” he said, but added that Washington wanted to preserve its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
The State Department has so far declined to comment.
Trump and top officials of his administration have said Saudi Arabia must be held to account for any involvement in Khashoggi’s death, but they have also stressed the importance of the alliance, given that Saudi Arabia, a major oil supplier, plays an important part in countering what they see as Iran’s malign role in the region, and Trump has repeatedly said he does not want to imperil USA arms sales to the kingdom.
Read also: Saudi Arabia Boosting Extremism In Europe
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