I have previously expressed my outrage at the position of the Trump Administration in failing to hold Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. The evidence is overwhelming that the Crown Prince (who has a blood-soaked reign in the Kingdom) ordered the savage murder. Now, the Crown Prince is doing a world tour and assembling fawning leaders to show that he is effectively immune from such quaint notions as murdering journalists. Countries like Pakistan have accepted billions from the Kingdom and are now pandering to the Crown Prince, including giving the accused murderer a gold-plated submachine gun.
China, India, Pakistan and other countries have participated in photo ops designed to show that the Crown Prince cannot be isolated or held accountable.
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 are saying that continued denials are unbelievable and embarrassing for the country. 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 lie, 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.
China is Saudi Arabia’s biggest trading partner and the killing of a journalist is obviously not a consideration, let alone a concern, for the regime. The Saudis have made it clear that Saudi dollars demand public adoration for the Crown Prince. In return, the Crown Prince has supported China’s brutal crackdown on Muslims in some of its provinces.
With the United States still protecting the Crown Prince despite the death of a U.S.-based journalist, the Saudi capital is likely to overshadow capital murder.