U.S. intelligence intercepts indicate that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was lured to Saudi Arabia and then detained at the order of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Washington Post, which reported the story on Wednesday, cited unidentified U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence as proof of the Saudi kingdom’s involvement in last week’s disappearance of the columnist. Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, CNBC writes.
The intelligence has also led some to speculate that the Saudi royal family, frequently criticized by the journalist, has ordered the killing and dismembering of Khashoggi, which was then carried out by a Saudi “assassination squad.” Saudi officials claim the journalist left through an alternate exit of the building, but have not yet offered any proof to support their claim.
The Post, citing U.S. intelligence, says that over the past few months, Khashoggi had been contacted by Saudi officials several times with offers for his protection and a high-level job working for the government, if he returned to his home country. The columnist reportedly told his friends he didn’t believe the offer was genuine and expressed skepticism the Saudi government would keep its promise.
“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit’,” said Khaled Saffuri, an Arab American political activist, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May.
His disappearance has been a reason for anger among U.S. lawmakers, several of whom urged President Donald Trump to open an investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi and called for sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
The intelligence suggested Saudi Arabia’s officials had long planned to detain the journalist, raising questions about whether the Trump administration should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger as intelligence agencies have a duty to do so.
“Duty to warn applies if harm is intended toward an individual,” said a former senior intelligence official. However, it was not clear to officials with knowledge of the intelligence whether the Saudis discussed harming Khashoggi as part of the plan to detain him in Saudi Arabia, the Post adds.