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  5. MBS says Jamal Khashoggi would not be 'among the top 1,000 people' he would hypothetically assassinate and he would have hired more 'professional' hitmen

MBS says Jamal Khashoggi would not be 'among the top 1,000 people' he would hypothetically assassinate and he would have hired more 'professional' hitmen

Grace Panetta   

MBS says Jamal Khashoggi would not be 'among the top 1,000 people' he would hypothetically assassinate and he would have hired more 'professional' hitmen
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Jamal Khashoggi wasn't important enough to kill.
  • Prince Mohammed has taken responsibility for Khashoggi's killing but denied directly ordering it.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to deny ordering the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, claiming in an interview with The Atlantic that Khashoggi wasn't important enough for him to kill and that would have hired more skilled assassins.

"I never read a Khashoggi article in my life," the prince, commonly known as MBS, told The Atlantic.

MBS added that if killing journalists critical of the government were "the way we did things" in Saudi Arabia, "Khashoggi would not even be among the top 1,000 people on the list."

"If you're going to go for another operation like that, for another person, it's got to be professional and it's got to be one of the top 1,000," he added.

An assessment by the US intelligence community fully declassified under the Biden administration found Saudi Arabia responsible and directly implicated the Crown Prince in Khashoggi's kidnapping, murder, and dismemberment at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018.

In a 2019 sit-down interview with CBS News' "60 Minutes," MBS said he "absolutely" did not order the "heinous crime" of Khashoggi's killing, but admitted that officials working under his government conducted the assassination and he took "full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia."

But in his interview with The Atlantic, MBS cast himself as the victim. Prince Mohammed said that being accused of Khashoggi's murder hurt him "from a feelings perspective" and claimed that it violated his right to due process under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Crown Prince also said that "hopefully" no more squads of Saudi officials would go around murdering writers, adding, "I'm trying to do my best."

The US' intelligence community's assessment, released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, directly named Prince Mohammed as having "approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

It based its assessment "on the Crown Prince's control of decisionmaking in the Kingdom, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman's protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince's support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi."

"The Crown Prince viewed Khashoggi as a threat to the Kingdom and broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him," the report added.

A United Nations special report released in 2019 also concluded that Khashoggi's killing was "a deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law."

The report found "credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials' individual liability, including the Crown Prince's."

The 36-year-old Prince Mohammed, in line to become King of Saudi Arabia and take control of the oil-rich country's powerful monarchy, has attempted to brand himself as a modern face of the Saudi Royal Family and a reformer in the hopes of cultivating closer ties with the west.

But in addition to being found responsible for Khashoggi's killing and cracking down on dissent internally, the Crown Prince is also overseeing a brutal war in Yemen that is causing an ongoing humanitarian crisis, including the deaths and mass starvation of civilians.

"We have a long, historical relationship with America," the Crown Prince told The Atlantic. "Our aim is to keep it and strengthen it."


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