US senators on December 4 said that they were more certain than ever that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi that took place in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate in early October. One even said bin Salman had also “monitored” the killing. The senators spoke out after being given an intelligence briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters he had "high confidence" bin Salman was complicit in the killing and described the Saudi royal as "a wrecking ball", "crazy" and "dangerous". "There is not a smoking gun—there is a smoking saw," Graham added, referring to the alleged dismemberment of Khashoggi’s body with a bone saw by a forensic expert who formed part of the hit squad that seized the Riyadh critic and father of four in the consulate.
The Saudis have charged 11 people but deny the crown prince was involved. They claim that the guilty parties went “rogue” and did not consult with bin Salman on their planned actions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stopped just short of pointing the finger at the crown prince, known as MbS, but has refused to go along with Donald Trump’s line that there can be no way of discovering from the available evidence if bin Salman, who has repeatedly protested his innocence, gave the order for the murder. Erdogan has said the command came from the highest level of the Saudi government and has demanded the suspects be extradited to Turkey so that it can complete a full investigation. Turkey has provided allies with an audio recording said to capture the killing. Haspel is said to have heard the tape.
Rival power broker
If Turkey, as a rival power broker to the Saudi kingdom in the Middle East, and Iran, facing a sanctions-led economic “war” waged by Washington that is uncritically backed up the present Saudi leadership, believe they can make mileage out of the Khashoggi crisis undermining Saudi Arabia, the latest turn of events will do their strategies no harm at all.
Senator Graham said he could not support Saudi Arabia's involvement in the war in Yemen against the Iranian-backed Houthis or arms sales to the Saudi government as long as the crown prince remained in power.
Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said the US must "send a clear and unequivocal message that such actions [as the murder] are not acceptable in the world's stage".
Another senator, Republican Bob Corker, said: "I have zero question on my mind that the crown prince MBS ordered the killing."
He added that Saudi Arabia's de facto leader "ordered, monitored, the killing" of Khashoggi, saying: "If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty."
By refusing to condemn the crown prince, Trump was condoning the murder of a journalist, he said.
The CIA has concluded bin Salman "probably ordered" the killing of Khashoggi, according to the BBC.
The spy agency has evidence he exchanged messages with now-dismissed royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the Saudi reporter's murder.