“We assess that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Muhammad bin Salman, approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” states the executive summary of the report.
“We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision-making in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detachment in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for the use of violent measures. to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi, “the report says.
The Biden administration delivered the long-awaited declassified intelligence report to Congress before its public release on Friday.
The report notes bin Salman’s “absolute control” of Saudi intelligence and security operations.
“Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had full control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, so it is highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the authorization of the Crown Prince.” the report says.
It says the 15-person Saudi team that arrived in Istanbul in October 2018 when Khashoggi was assassinated included members associated with the Saudi Center for Media Studies and Affairs (CSMARC) at the Royal Court, led by a close adviser to bin Salman, as well as “seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s elite personal protection detachment, known as the Rapid Intervention Force.”
On Thursday, administration officials hinted that Biden might also be considering an announcement of some sort of punishment for the Saudis once the report is released.
When asked if the administration would consider sanctions against those responsible for Khashoggi’s murder, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday: “I hope that we will soon be in a position to discuss measures to promote accountability in the future for this horrible crime. ”
The report says that at the time of Khashoggi’s assassination, “the crown prince fostered an environment in which aides feared that if he did not complete assigned tasks, he might fire or arrest them.”
Shortly after Khashoggi’s death in October 2018, the CIA assessed with great confidence that the crown prince had personally ordered the assassination.
As a candidate, Biden said that Khashoggi was assassinated “by order of the crown prince” and that the country should be treated as “the pariah that it is.”
This story is breaking and will be updated.