CIA Intercepted At Least 11 Messages Between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman And His Closest Adviser, Who Oversaw The Team That Killed ‘Journalist,’ Jamal Khashoggi
Warren Strobel writes in this weekend’s (Dec. 1/2, 2018) Wall Street Journal (WSJ), that “the CIA intercepted at least 11 messages,” between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed ‘journalist’ Jamal Khashoggi in October.” In an apparent leak of a “highly classified CIA assessment,” Prince bin Salmon told his associates in August that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements.” The CIA assessment judges that this communication “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi,” Mr. Strobel wrote.
“Excerpts of the CIA’s assessment, which cites electronic intercepts and other clandestine information were reviewed by the WSJ,” Mr. Strobel reported.
As has been previously, widely reported, last month, someone leaked that the CIA had assessed with high confidence that “Prince bin Salman had likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi”s killing.”
“The previously unreported [calssified] excerpts reviewed by the WSJ state that the CIA has “medium-to-high-confidence,” that Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death. To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.” Mr. Strobel notes that “the electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani,” according to the CIA report. “Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul,” the assessment noted. Of note, Mr. Qahtani “has led Prince Mohammed’s efforts to crack down on dissent internally, and abroad.”
Mr. Storbel explains that “it is unclear from the excerpts whether the 2017 comments regarding luring Mr. Khashoggi to a third country cited in the [CIA] assessment are from Prince Mohammed directly, or from someone else describing his remarks.”
“The judgment on Prince Mohammed’s likely culpability,” the CIA assessment concludes, “is based on the Crown Prince’s personal focus on Mr. Khashoggi, his tight control over Saudi operatives sent to Istanbul to kill him, and his authorizing some of the same operators to violently target other opponents.”
“The highly classified CIA assessment,” Mr. Storbel wrote, said “the Saudi team sent to kill Mr. Khashoggi was assembled from Prince Mohammed’s top security units in the Royal Guard, and in an organization run by Mr. Qahtani, the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Royal Court, the royal court’s media department.”
“We assess it is highly unlikely this team of operators….carried out the operation without Muhammed bin Salman’s authorization,” the CIA assessment concludes.
Of note, the CIA assessment said that Mr. Qahtani “explicitly requested the Crown Prince’s permission when he pursued other sensitive operations in 2015, which reflects the Crown Prince’s command and control expectations.”
If accurate, this assessment is compelling, and likely accurate. Having said that, Prince bin Salman may well have looked at what has happened — or not — to Russia’s Putin for poisoning his enemies on foreign soil; as well as North Korea’s Kim — who sent assassins to do their dirty work at a Malaysian airport. Neither man has suffered much from the consequences of those actions. Perhaps had Prince Salman had chosen poison instead of carving up his adversary — there wouldn’t be much of a difference in these three men of power.
Obviously, someone either in the CIA, or a member of Congress, or both, wanted to up the pressure on POTUS Trump with respect to U.S. relations with the kingdom.
What has been under-reported, and/or ignored by the so-called mainstream media, is Jamal Khashoggi’s association with militant Islam. Khashoggi’s close friend in high school was none other than Osama bin Laden, whom Khashoggi admired because they both hoped for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. Later, Khashoggi would follow bin Laden to Afghanistan to oppose the Russian presence there. Writer Dan Greenfield has noted, “Khashoggi’s writings from the 80s Afghanistan read as Jihadist propaganda with titles like, “Arab Mujahadeen in Afghanistan II: Exemplifies the Unity of Islamic Ummah”.
And when Osama bin Laden set up Al Qaeda, he called Khashoggi with the details. “After Afghanistan,” Mr. Greenfield has written, “Jamal Khashoggi went to work as a media adviser for former Saudi intel boss, Prince Turki bin Faisal, alleged to have links to Al Qaeda. Those allegations came from, among others, Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged twentieth hijacker. Before his death, many considered Khashoggi the leader of the Saudi Muslim Brotherhood, a group Mr. Greenfield notes, “admires Hitler and seeks to impose Islamic/sharia law” across the globe. “What Khashoggi wasn’t, was a moderate,” Mr. Greenfield noted. “No more so than the Muslim Brotherhood. He wasn’t a proponent of human rights, but of Islamic rule. He could be found on Al Jazeera, Qatar’s Jihadist propaganda network, bemoaning Saudi opposition to the Brotherhood and its friendliness to Israel.”
And, in an act of hubris and extreme irresponsibility, shortly before Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, the Washington Post published an article by Mr. Khashoggi — advocating the recognition and expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood — and, to add insult to injury — published the article in Arabic to ensure its reach into the Middle East.
Mr. Khashoggi’s actions and beliefs do not justify the grotesque nature of his demise; but, they do demand to be acknowledged — rather than glossed over, or ignored. Indeed, Mr. Khashoggi’s beliefs and philosophy is seen by Saudi moderates as a direct threat to the kingdom; and, perhaps even inciting the ‘next’ Osama bin Laden.
While Mr. Trump’s critics are quick to call for sever sanctions against Saudi Arabia, they forget we have historically had, and are likely to still have — strategic relations with individuals and regimes we otherwise find detestable. Indeed, it was POTUS Obama who sent billions of cold hard cash in the middle of the night to Iran’s Mullah’s. Money that has no doubt been used to kill Americans and Israelis, and/or otherwise undermine American national security interests in the Middle East and elsewhere. Where is the outrage? RCP, www.fortunascorner.com