Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke of killing Jamal Khashoggi a year before the journalist was murdered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, reports the New York Times, citing "current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of intelligence reports." The sources say that in a conversation intercepted by US intelligence agencies, the crown prince said he would go after Khashoggi "with a bullet" if he didn't stop criticizing the kingdom. Intelligence analysts—who are now going through years of intercepted communications from the crown prince, according to the sources—believe the prince meant he wanted to kill Khashoggi, but not that he would actually shoot him.
The conversation with aide Turki Aldakhil happened in Sept. 2017, the sources say, as the prince was consolidating power and days before Khashoggi writing about Saudi Arabia in the Washington Post. Asked about the conversation, Aldakhil said: "These allegations are categorically false. They appear to be a continuation of various efforts by different parties to connect His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to this horrific crime. These efforts will prove futile." Voice of America reports that Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said Thursday that Saudi Arabia undermined Turkey's investigation of the "brutal and premeditated killing," which she said was carried out by Saudi officials. (The CIA says the prince sent 11 messages with suspicious timing.)