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11 Messages Sent by Prince Have Suspicious Timing

CIA says bin Salman was communicating with operatives' leader before, after Khashoggi killing
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2018 7:00 AM CST
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman adjusts his robe as leaders gather at the G20 summit Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

(Newser) – The CIA is pretty sure that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now the Wall Street Journal has details on why the CIA thinks that way, and a big one involves 11 messages sent by the prince himself in the hours before and after the killing. The CIA does not know the content of the messages, but they went to a close aide of his overseeing the Saudi operatives who killed Khashoggi. The Washington Post confirms that the prince and Saud al-Qahtani exchanged multiple messages in this time. The missives are part of why the CIA has "medium-to-high confidence" the prince "personally targeted" the journalist, according to excerpts of the agency's analysis viewed by the Journal. He "probably" ordered the killing, but “to be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.”

The CIA also says the prince uttered a cryptic statement to associates last year, telling them that if Khashoggi did not agree to return to Saudi Arabia, "we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements." Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi embassy in Turkey. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” a US official tells the Post, referring to the prince. That is not the White House view, however. “I have read every piece of intelligence that is in the possession of the United States government, and when it is done, when you complete that analysis, there’s no direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN Saturday. (France's Emmanuel Macron was overheard telling the prince: "I'm worried.")

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