The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released an unclassified report on Friday blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) for the 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Per Axios, the report assessed that MBS “approved the operation to ‘capture or kill’” Khashoggi.
The grisly October 2018 murder of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul sparked worldwide outrage and calls for the U.S. to fundamentally reevaluate its relationship with the Gulf kingdom.
Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines pledged in her Senate confirmation hearing to comply with a law passed by Congress in 2019 that required ODNI to release the names of the Saudi officials believed to be responsible or complicit in Khashoggi’s killing within 30 days.
Axios noted that the report was blocked by the Trump administration for more than a year.
The summary of the intelligence community’s findings says, “We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
Biden spoke to Saudi King Salman for the first time as president on Thursday, one day after he told reporters that he had read the Khashoggi report. A White House readout of the call stressed the importance of the relationship and did not mention Khashoggi or MBS.
Former President Donald Trump, “whose son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner had a close personal relationship with MBS, ultimately chose to publicly stand by the Saudis in November 2018, even after the CIA reportedly concluded that the crown prince had ordered the assassination,” the news outlet wrote.
In a lengthy statement, Trump called Khashoggi a suspected member of the Muslim Brotherhood, speculated that “we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder,” and pointed to billions of dollars in weapons sales and investment that Saudi Arabia had agreed to.
Trump reportedly had bragged that he saved the Crown Prince’s “ass.”
MBS has denied ordering the murder or having any knowledge of the operation, but acknowledged in 2019 for the first time that he bears “responsibility” because “it happened under my watch.”