Saudis close to crown prince discussed killing enemies a year before Khashoggi’s death: Report
Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman discussed hiring private companies last year to kill Iranian enemies of the kingdom, the New York Times reported Nov. 11, citing anonymous sources.
The Saudis inquired at a time when Mohammad, then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
The report added that their discussions, more than a year before the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, “indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammad’s ascent.”
Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for the Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Once inside, he was immediately strangled and then dismembered, according to the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office.
After a weeks-long denial, Saudi Arabia admitted on Oct. 25 that the journalist had fallen victim to a premeditated killing in the building.
The kingdom arrested 18 people, including all 15 Saudi officials who were accused by Turkey as the “hit squad,” but the question about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body remains unanswered.
A Turkish official had told the Washington Post on Oct. 31 that Khashoggi’s body was destroyed in acid on the grounds of the Saudi Consulate or at the nearby residence of the Saudi consul general.
Saudi Consul Mohammad al-Otaibi returned to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 16, one day before his residence in Istanbul was searched by police for more than eight hours.
Before the consul left Turkey, Saudi Arabia had denied Ankara’s repeated requests to search the diplomatically-protected compounds.