The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the assassination of anti-establishment journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The CIA claim comes after various contradicting stories were espoused by Saudi media and intelligence officials which emphasized that even if Saudi agents were involved in Khashoggi’s killing, then at the very least the kingdom’s crown prince had nothing to do with it.
CIA officials say that they have high confidence in their findings on the Khashoggi killing citing, among multiple source of intelligence, a phone call made by Khalid bin Salman (Mohammad’s brother, and the Saudi ambassador to the US) to Khashoggi ensuring him it would be safe to enter to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in order to pick up marriage papers.
This call by Khalid to Khashoggi is said by the CIA report to have been made at the direction of the crown prince – whether or not Khalid knew this would result in Khashoggi’s death is still unclear.
Overall, the CIA’s now publicly-stated conclusion complicates efforts by the Trump administration aimed at containing backlash against Saudi Arabia and will certainly fuel Ankara’s resolve to see certain Saudi establishment figures punished.