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CIA blames Saudi Prince for Khashoggi's cold blooded murder

By Sheetal Sukhija, Colorado State News
18 Nov 2018, 02:09 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - This week, despite international headlines being focussed on a range of crucial issues across the world - two major developments in relation to the cold-blooded murder of a veteran Saudi Arabian journalist in Turkey managed to bring the case back into global focus.

The murder of a 59-year-old Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, dominated headlines through much of last month.

However, with multiple international issues facing the world this month, including the decisive U.S. Congressional Elections - the focus shifted from the mystery over Khashoggi's murder - to the exchange of allegations and statements from both Turkey and Saudi Arabia, on the handling of the suspects in the case.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia pointed out that the Kingdom's prosecutors had indicted 11 suspects over Khashoggi's murder and sought the death penalty for five of them.

The Kingdom also released yet another sequence of events that led to Khashoggi's murder and the eventual disposal of his body - an explanation that Turkey has rejected and one that led to the U.S. issuing sanctions on 17 Saudis, including some of the murder suspects.

However, the development was a decisive step by Saudi, which has blamed the murder on 'rogue elements' as it desperately tries to defend the Kingdom's de-facto ruler, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi was not only a prominent critic of some of Saudi's policies, but also specifically and repeatedly criticized the vision laid out for the country by the young and popular Crown Prince.

Meanwhile, Turkey, which has previously presented evidence of Khashoggi's killing to several countries, has publicly alleged that a 15-man Saudi 'hit squad' carried out the murder in Istanbul based on orders from the highest levels of the Saudi government.

Turkey is demanding that the suspects be tried in a Turkish court observed by international human rights groups.

The U.S. and many other countries in the West meanwhile, have continued to express shock and have vowed to punish those involved.

CIA's assessment revealed

On Friday, amid a furious week-long debate over the criminal act and a raging diplomatic conflict, a report in the Washington Post made a shocking revelation.

The report, which quoted sources with knowledge of a CIA assessment into the case, stated that the U.S. Intelligence Agency has drawn a conclusion on who ordered the killing.

According to the report, sources claim that the CIA has concluded that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi's assassination in Istanbul.

The finding, which is set to be the most definitive U.S. assessment linking the countrys de-facto ruler in the high profile murder, contradicts the vehement and repeated assertions made by the Saudi government denying any involvement of its Crown Prince.

Meanwhile, the report also stressed that U.S. officials have expressed high confidence in the CIA assessment, which sources pointed out was based on the agency's detailed assessment of all the available evidence.

U.S. officials reportedly believe that such an operation would need the prince's approval.

The report also pointed out that the CIA assessment was also partly based on a crucial phone call that it revealed was made by the Crown Prince's brother to the Saudi ambassador to the U.S.

The Post alleges that Prince Khalid bin Salman allegedly called Khashoggi at the direction of his brother and gave him assurances that he would be safe to go to the consulate.

Responding to the allegations made in the report, Prince Khalid took to Twitter and said that he had not been in contact with Khashoggi for nearly a year.

He stated that he never suggested that Khashoggi should go to Turkey for any reason.

Meanwhile, the report also alleged that CIA agents had examined a call made to a senior aide of Crown Prince bin Salman by the 'hit squad' that carried out the killing.

While the U.S. State Department has not officially commented on the reports, the U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters on Saturday that he had not yet been briefed on the CIAs conclusions.

Trump stressed that he would hold talks with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the CIA over its reported assessment of Khashoggi's murder.

Further, the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence too commented on the reports on Saturday, vowing to hold Khashoggi's killers to account.

Pence said that the U.S. was "determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder."

However, experts have noted that the reported conclusions by the CIA is set to damage Trump's efforts to preserve ties with Saudi, which is one of America's strongest and closest ally in the Middle East.

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