The Saudi crown prince reportedly couldn't understand why everyone is outraged at Khashoggi's murder

The Saudi crown prince reportedly couldn't understand why everyone is outraged at Khashoggi's murder

khashoggi mbs

Associated Press/Virginia Mayo; Nicolas Asfouri - Pool/Getty

A composite image of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is suspected of being behind the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • The kingdom has denied this, and its latest account of Khashoggi's death says the killers went behind the prince's back.
  • The crown prince was shocked to see Khashoggi's disappearance provoked such international outrage, and asked Jared Kushner why it was happening, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Crown Prince Mohammed also grew angry that Khashoggi's disappearance turned into such a big diplomatic crisis, the Journal reported.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince, the man suspected of ordering the death of Jamal Khashoggi, could not understand why the journalist's disappearance was such a big deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mohammed bin Salman was shocked to see Khashoggi's disappearance in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul provoke such international outrage, and called Jard Kushner to ask why, the paper said.

The Journal said Prince Mohammed became angry that it turned into a diplomatic crisis, citing unnamed people who recently interacted with the prince.

Business leaders and politicians, from US Treasury Secretary to The New York Times, have are now shunning Saudi Arabia, and many pulled out of a major conference in Riyadh scheduled to take place on Tuesday.


On October 10 - eight days after Khashoggi's disappearance - Prince Mohammed called Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and Middle East adviser, the Journal said.

Prince Mohammed asked in English what the outrage was about, the report said, citing two people who were briefed on the conversation.

jared kushner trump mbs saudi arabia

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

From left to right: Saudi Crown Prince (then-Defense Minister) Mohammed bin Salman, Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, and then-economic advisor Gary Cohn at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh in May 2017.

Kushner and John Bolton, the US national security advisor, reportedly told the prince in response that he had to solve the crisis quickly.

Kushner is close to Prince Mohammed and - according to CNN - texts him directly sometimes on WhatsApp. He has not taken a public role in the US response to the Khashoggi crisis, but has reportedly advised Trump to stand by Saudi Arabia until the episode blows over.


Part of the reason why the Khashoggi episode turned into a major diplomatic crisis was the sheer depravity of the reports of his killing, which included leaks that agents brought a bone saw into the Saudi consulate and dismembered the 59-year-old journalist.

Khashoggi, a contributor for The Washington Post, also had powerful friends in Washington.

jamal khashoggi

Middle East Monitor via Reuters

Jamal Khashoggi speaking at an event hosted by Middle East Monitor in London in September 29, 2018.

The Saudi royal family - which runs the country - was also initially "relaxed" about Khashoggi's disappearance when reports emerged, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source close to the royal household.

"Then it snowballed," the source said. "When things started heating up in the States, everybody started getting worried."


The Trump administration appeared reluctant to hold the Saudi leadership responsible for weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance.

The president has continued to tout billions of dollars of arms contracts struck between Washington and Riyadh, which he has repeatedly claimed could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the US.

After Saudi Arabia admitted to Khashoggi's death, Trump told The Washington Post that "obviously there's been deception, and there's been lies" in the Saudi explanation of the disappearance and death.

But the president said: "I would love if he wasn't responsible," referring to Prince Mohammed.

However, many of the 15 men identified in Turkish media as the suspects behind Khashoggi's killing have been seen in the crown prince's entourage.


Donald Trump Mohammed bin Salman

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump shows a chart highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, March 20, 2018, in Washington.

Riyadh admitted to Khashoggi's death on Friday night - 17 days after it happened - but claimed that "a quarrel and a physical confrontation" led to the death. Saudi officials, including Prince Mohammed, previously claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate and denied knowing his whereabouts.

The kingdom appears keen to distance the crown prince from the entire matter. Shortly after it admitted to Khashoggi's death, Saudi Arabia detained 18 suspects and dismissed a high-ranking general - likely an attempt to portray the killing as a rogue operation, rather than one sanctioned by the upper echelons of the Saudi government.

The Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir has claimed Prince Mohammed, as well as senior intelligence officers, "was not aware of" Khashoggi's disappearance and death.

Jubeir told Fox News on Saturday: "This was an operation that was a rogue operation. This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate, and they tried to cover up for it."


Prince Mohammed has also been given powers to restructure the country's intelligence services, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that he will reveal the "naked truth" about Khashoggi's death on Tuesday.