US says Saudi crown prince approved Khashoggi operation

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The US intelligence community formally blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today for the grisly 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Anadolu Agency reports.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s long-sought declassified report concluded, based heavily on the CIA’s analysis, that the Kingdom’s de facto ruler “approved” and almost certainly ordered the murder.

“We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision making 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 report says.

Khashoggi was brutally killed and likely dismembered after being lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in October 2018 by Saudi officials. While Riyadh initially denied any role in his death, it later sought to pin blame on what they said was a botched rendition operation.

READ: US Biden stresses human rights in talk with Saudi king

Khashoggi’s remains have never been found amid speculation that they were dissolved in a vat of acid in the diplomatic building.

That explanation has been widely rejected by both the UN and a wide group of US lawmakers who have maintained bin Salman’s culpability.

The intelligence assessment is not new. Former President Donald Trump blocked its release as he consistently sought to shield bin Salman from blame in a killing that rocked the world.

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But the Biden administration has prioritized its publication, despite what may be repercussions for the US-Saudi relationship.

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