RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The leaders of Saudi Arabia seemed on Monday to be waiting for President Trump to make the next move. On Saturday the U.S. leader again stressed the importance of the Saudi relationship, calling the Islamic kingdom a “truly spectacular ally.”
The CIA has assessed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, based mainly on an understanding of how the kingdom operates and the proximity of several participants in the killing to the heir-in-waiting, as well as the organizations involved.
Turkey has said it shared evidence with its partners, including the U.S., that shows it was a pre-meditated murder. The Turkish president has said it was a execution ordered from the “highest level” of the Saudi government.
A U.S. official told CBS News last week that U.S. intelligence agencies have “high confidence” in their assessment that bin Salman ordered the killing — based on an understanding of how Saudi Arabia’s government operates. No U.S. official has told CBS News that there is direct evidence linking bin Salman to the killing, however.
The Saudi government has admitted that the Washington Post contributor was killed after walking into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
Riyadh insists the order from up top was to try and bring Khashoggi — a sharp critic of the fast-rising crown prince — back home, and that the man in charge of the operation, former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al-Assiri, made the decision to kill him instead. Al-Assiri is known to have been a close advisor to the crown prince.
Asked over the weekend whether he himself had listened to the evidence provided by the Turks, President Trump said he didn’t need to hear the “suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape.”
“I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” Mr. Trump said in the interview with “Fox News Sunday.” ”I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it.”
Mr. Trump said the U.S. government would be “having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday” on the Khashoggi killing, which he said would include “who did it.”
He didn’t specify whether the report would come from the White House or the U.S. intelligence community, nor whether its findings would be made public.
A CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reported from the Saudi capital on Monday, Mr. Trump is under pressure from Congress, and if he now comes out and confirms that U.S. intelligence believes Crown Prince Salman was behind the killing, it could be catastrophic for the Saudi regime.
Saudi Arabia first claimed it didn’t know what had happened to Khashoggi, then it finally admitted he’d died in the Istanbul consulate, but said he’d been killed in a fist fight.
Then, just last week, there was a new explanation from the prosecutor in Riyadh, who said a team had been sent to Turkey to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, by force if necessary, but that one of the team’s leaders decided to kill him with a lethal injection instead.
Williams and her team were at a news conference last Thursday when the Saudi Foreign Minister said point-blank that the kingdom’s own investigation had exonerated the crown prince of any involvement.
The chief prosecutor in Saudi Arabia indicted 11 people over the killing last week, and five of them could face the death penalty.
Williams noted on Monday that those men presumably know the truth — including, perhaps, who ultimately gave the order to kill Khashoggi, and what happened to his body.
The fear is they could be put to death without a chance to tell the rest of the world what happened.
Source: Read Full Article