Khashoggi assassins used planes of MBS-linked company as minister relayed crown prince 'instructions': Reports
The Joe Biden administration will be releasing an intelligence report on Thursday that will conclude that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to three US official familiar with the matter.
According to the latest report, recently filed court documents say two private jets that were used by the Saudi assassination squad that killed Khashoggi in its embassy in Istanbul were owned by a company that was seized by the prince less than a year ago.
The court documents, which are filed as a part of a Canadian civil lawsuit earlier this year, are labeled "Top Secret". According to a CNN report, it is signed by a Saudi minister who relayed the orders of the crown prince, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. "According to the instruction of His Highness the Crown Prince," the minister wrote according to a translation, "immediately approve the completion of the necessary procedures for this."
59-year-old was a Saudi citizen working as a Washington Post columnist when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and was killed by a team of intelligence operatives with close ties to the crown prince. According to American officials, his body was dismembered in part with a bone saw and the remains have never been found.
Reports say that the filing explains how ownership of Sky Prime Aviation was ordered to be transferred into the country's $400 billion sovereign wealth fund, which is known as the Public Investment Fund, late in 2017. The company's planes were later used in the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi. The fund is controlled by the Saudi crown and is chaired by the crown prince.
The Saudi government first denied the murder, but then came around to assert that the journalist was killed by accident as the team sought to forcibly extradite him. According to reports, they say that the team acted on its own and that the crown prince was not involved.
Earlier in 2018, the Wall Street Journal cited people familiar with the matter, who said that that the Gulfstream jets used by the killers belonged to a company controlled by MBS. "He [the crown prince] would have been tracking [the company] and would've been aware of how it was used," Dan Hoffman, the former director of the CIA's Middle East Division. "And it's just more potential evidence that he was in the know on this. Which has always been the contention. This is just more evidence of that."
In the trial, eight men were convicted and five got the death penalty. But their sentences were commuted to 20 years since Khashoggi's relatives had reportedly forgiven them. "...If a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. Therefore, we the sons of the Martyr Jamal Khashoggi announce that we pardon those who killed our father, seeking reward God almighty," Salah Khashoggi, one of the sons, announced on Twitter.
Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations, accused Saudi Arabia of a "deliberate, premeditated execution, an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law."
NBC News reports that the public release of the report will be of significance in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, especially since former President Donald Trump has previously promoted the idea that Khashoggi was a "jihadist".