The New York Times has reported that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in 2017 that he would use “a bullet” on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That was well before his murder and contradicts the Crown Prince’s later statement that they were friends. It is one of a long line of lies made by the Crown Prince and the Saudi government to try to cover up the role of the Crown Prince. The evidence is overwhelming that the Crown Prince ordered the murder but the Trump Administration has refused to acknowledge the evidence of its own intelligence services and now has missed a deadline set by Congress. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has a close relationship with the Crown Prince and the Administration is clearly unwilling to allow his murdering of a Washington Post journalist interfere with the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
The report states that an intercept involved a conversation between the Crown Prince and top aide Turki Aldakhil about Khashoggi in September 2017. The two Saudis apparently expressed concern that Khashoggi’s writings were too critical of the Saudi regime. Bin Salman reportedly told Aldakhil that if Khashoggi refused to return to Saudi Arabia willingly, then he should somehow be forced back. If not, he would take out Khashoggi with “a bullet.”
Most of the members of Congress have acknowledged the obvious role of the Crown Prince and even leading Republicans saying that continued denials are unbelievable and embarrassing for the country. Even before this intercept, the U.S. intelligence services disclosed a “smoking gun phone call” of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with an alleged instruction to “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible.” Moreover, there is a recording referencing the Crown Prince by the murderers as well as an intercept of a team member calling an aide to Prince Mohammed and saying “tell your boss” that the mission was accomplished. Intercepts also show that Prince Mohammed was trying to find ways to lure Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. It also ignores the detailed plans involving the Crown Prince’s close aide and a large team of men sent from Saudi Arabia, including a body double for Khashoggi.
What followed the murder was a series of planned lies, including sticking with the original plan of claiming that Khashoggi was shown leaving the consulate. The Saudis however failed to use Khashoggi’s shoes after having the man don the dead man’s clothes. With the disproving of every lies, the Saudis added new ones. Finally, the Saudis simply declared that they will not allow criticism of the Crown Prince, which is described as a “red line” issue. It seems to suggest that the Crown Prince is simply off the table in any investigation regardless if he ordered the killing.
The Crown Prince’s reign has been a blood-soaked legacy of torture and murder. Every indication is that the Crown Prince takes a personal and insatiable interest in torture and killings. Yet, even with the brutal and savage murder of a Washington Post journalist, the U.S. government has refused to implicate the Crown Prince. The question is what we represent as a nation if we turn a blind eye to the targeted murder of a journalist and a litany of lies designed to cover up the involvement of a figure like the Crown Prince. We cannot simply shrug and say that this is “business not personal.” This is murder.