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A Year Before Khashoggi Was Killed, Crown Prince Said He'd Use a Bullet on Him
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8 Feb 2019 08:30 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Image source: Screenshot)



It's been some time since we heard any more information regarding the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, but this tidbit of information should be enough to get tongues wagging once again. While already U.S. intelligence has been pointing their fingers at Saudi Arab's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to former officials with direct knowledge of Intelligence reports.


Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident, walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and never reemerged. Turkish officials said from the beginning that they believed he'd been murdered and dismembered and put blame on higher-up officials in Saudi Arabia.


The kingdom denied any responsibility initially, then took more and more, but have refused to ever admit that the crown price was part of it. However, they have charged a large group whom they say are responsible for Khashoggi's murder.


The intelligence reports stated that the crown prince told Khashoggi in 2017 that if he did not return to the kingdom and stop criticizing the Saudi government, that he would use a bullet on him.


American Intelligence intercepted the conversation that gives the biggest evidence yet known to the public that the crown prince may have been involved. While his body has never been found, it's thought, because of Turkey's audio tapes, that he was strangled and then dismembered with a bone saw.


It appears that recently intelligence agencies transcribed the 2017 conversation and analyzed the results. Additionally, the National Security Agency and other spy agencies are looking through backlogs of the crown prince's voice and text messages that were routinely stored with the N.S.A.


The current conversation in question took place between Prince Mohammed and an aide, Turk Aldakhil, in September 2017. Saudi officials had grown more and more alarmed over Khashoggi's critiques of Saudi Arabia. He began writing for The Washington Post that month, and officials discussed how they could get him back to their country,


The prince said if Khashoggi could not be convinced to return, then he should be returned by force. If neither of those worked to bring him back, he said he'd go after the journalist "with a bullet."


American intelligence isn't sure if he really meant he would do that or not, as it could be a metaphor to show he would consider killing him if he didn't return. He had just months earlier been placed in power in the kingdom after eliminating his predecessor.


That same year he ordered hundreds of influential businessmen and royals to be locked up at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, leading to their interrogation.


Days before the "bullet" conversation, the prince had complained to another aide that Khashoggi had become too influential. He was told that the journalist's articles and tweets were tarnishing the prince's image and that it was particularly harmful coming from someone who used to be supportive of him and Saudi Arabia.


When the aide said any move against Khashoggi would be risky and create an international problem, the prince told him Saudi Arabia shouldn't care about international reaction to how they handled their own citizens.


Days after this, Khashoggi's first column appeared in The Washington Post. "I have left my home, my family, and my job, and I am raising my voice," he wrote. "To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot."

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