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Jamal Khashoggi
February 7, 2019

During a September 2017 conversation with an aide, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said if he could not get journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, either on his own accord or by force, he would go after him "with a bullet," current and former U.S. and foreign officials told The New York Times.

This intercepted conversation between the crown prince and Turki Aldakhil was included in a December intelligence report that has been circulated around spy agencies and the White House, the Times reports. The National Security Agency and other U.S. spy agencies have been going through years of the crown prince's text and voice communications, the Times reports, and analysts have determined that he may not have literally meant he would shoot him, but would have him killed another way.

Khashoggi was critical of the Saudi government, and after going into self-exile in the U.S, he began writing columns for The Washington Post in 2017. In another intercepted conversation, the crown prince reportedly complained to aide Saud al-Qahtani that Khashoggi held too much sway over people and was ruining his reputation as a reformer.

Khashoggi was killed in October 2018, with Saudi operatives strangling and dismembering him inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing, something Saudi Arabia has denied. In a statement, a Saudi official told the Times that the kingdom is "focused on uncovering the full truth" about Khashoggi's murder and "ensuring complete accountability." Catherine Garcia

December 31, 2018

A Turkish television station, A-Haber, has broadcast footage of men carrying five suitcases and two other bags to the home of Saudi Arabia's consul general in Istanbul. Citing unnamed Turkish sources, A-Haber reports the luggage contained the dismembered body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in October.

The residence is close to the diplomatic facility and was among the locations searched by Turkish authorities soon after Khashoggi's death. His body has not been found, and some reports suggest it was dissolved in acid after dismemberment. The CCTV footage screened by A-Haber is a brief clip showing the bags being moved from a minibus to the home.

The Wall Street Journal reported this month the CIA has concluded with "medium-to-high confidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "personally targeted" Khashoggi, likely ordering his death, but cannot present "direct reporting of the crown prince issuing a kill order." Read The Week's coverage of the murder and its aftermath here. Bonnie Kristian

December 3, 2018

On Tuesday, CIA Director Gina Haspel will meet with the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate Intelligence Committee and brief them on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a person with knowledge of the matter told Politico Monday. The briefing was confirmed by Sen. Bob. Corker (R-Tenn.), who said it will take place at 11 a.m.

Last week, senators were briefed on the Khashoggi matter by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Democrats and Republicans alike were mad that Haspel wasn't there. In October, Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul; it's been reported that the CIA has concluded his murder was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

After last week's briefing, the Senate voted to advance a bill that pulls U.S. support for Saudi forces fighting in Yemen. Corker said the Senate could start debating that measure as early as Thursday, but it likely won't happen until next week. Catherine Garcia

December 2, 2018

Exiled Saudi activist Omar Abdulaziz has shared more than 400 WhatsApp messages he exchanged with Jamal Khashoggi, showing that the slain journalist was privately highly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, CNN reports.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed in October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and the CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered his murder. From October 2017 to August 2018, Khashoggi and Abdulaziz, now based in Montreal, sent each other text, video, and photo messages almost every day. Abdulaziz told CNN they were planning to start an online youth movement to debunk Saudi state propaganda and inspire activists inside the kingdom. "We have no parliament, we just have Twitter," he said.

Khashoggi and Abdulaziz discussed how to get untraceable SIM cards to dissidents inside Saudi Arabia and ways to get monetary donations. In August, Abdulaziz was tipped off that their messages were intercepted by the Saudi government, he told CNN. This occurred just three months after Abdulaziz was asked to meet with two Saudi government officials, who told him bin Salman wanted to offer him a job. They said he needed to go to the Saudi embassy to get paperwork, but Khashoggi told him "not to go and to only meet them in public places," Abdulaziz said.

In November, researchers from the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab told Abdulaziz his phone was hacked by spyware created by the Israeli firm NSO Group, at the direction of the Saudi regime. On Sunday, Abdulaziz filed a lawsuit against the Israeli company, arguing that they broke international laws by selling to a government known for human rights abuses. "The hacking of my phone played a major role in what happened to Jamal, I am really sorry to say," Abdulaziz told CNN. "The guilt is killing me." Catherine Garcia

December 1, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) sent at least 11 text messages to his "closest adviser" — who directed the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul — while the murder took place, The Wall Street Journal reported early Saturday, citing a classified CIA assessment.

The CIA also reportedly found MBS told associates last year he "could possibly lure [Khashoggi] outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements" if the dissident journalist did not change his behavior. The assessment notes this "seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi."

The Journal says the CIA assessment concludes with "medium-to-high confidence" MBS "personally targeted" Khashoggi, likely ordering his death, but cannot present "direct reporting of the crown prince issuing a kill order."

President Trump has expressed doubts about the CIA's previously reported suspicion of MBS and has indicated he will not take significant action against Saudi Arabia — like canceling U.S. arms deals with the regime — in response to the murder.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal. Bonnie Kristian

November 28, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) didn't mince words on Tuesday while discussing Saudi Arabia's role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In October, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up a paper for his upcoming wedding, and once inside, a visiting Saudi hit squad killed him. The CIA has "high confidence" the murder was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. McConnell called the killing "completely abhorrent to everything the United States holds dear and stands for in the world. So some kind of response to that certainly would be in order, and we're discussing what the appropriate response should be." This could include sanctioning Saudi officials or placing restrictions on future arms sales, NPR reports.

In an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post, President Trump refused to pin Khashoggi's murder on the crown prince. "Maybe he did and maybe he didn't" order it, Trump said. "But he denies it. And people around him deny it. And the CIA did not say affirmatively he did it, either, by the way. I'm not saying that they're saying he didn't do it, but they didn't say it affirmatively." Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2018

President Trump has conceded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "could very well" have known about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. But he's still not going to punish Saudi Arabia's government for it.

The CIA has reportedly determined that bin Salman directed Khashoggi's murder, and Trump is expected to receive a full CIA briefing Tuesday, per CNN. Still, the president signaled in a Tuesday statement that no matter what the CIA tells him, he still won't take retaliatory action against the Saudi government.

Khashoggi's Oct. 2 killing in Turkey's Saudi consulate "was a terrible one," Trump said. But regardless of who is responsible for it, Trump suggested Saudi Arabia is a "great ally," is "leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism," and has deep economic ties to the U.S. Giving up those ties would "be a wonderful gift" to Russia and China, Trump said, adding that it would fail Trump's "America first" mission. He additionally seemed to accept the Saudi government's criticism of Khashoggi. "Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that [Khashoggi] was an 'enemy of the state' and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that," he wrote.

Trump then cast doubts on what the CIA may have learned about Khashoggi's death, saying "we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder." The Treasury Department "already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder," Trump acknowledged, and his entire statement suggests this is the harshest action he will take against the Saudi government. Read the whole statement below. Kathryn Krawczyk

November 18, 2018

President Trump on Saturday downplayed Friday's report that the CIA has concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

"They haven't assessed anything yet. It's too early. That was a very premature report," Trump told reporters. "We'll be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday," he said, adding that it will include "who did it."

The president also praised Saudi Arabia as "a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development." He has repeatedly resisted calls to end U.S. arms sales to Riyadh over Khashoggi's death and the Saudi military intervention in Yemen's civil war, claiming the economic toll on the United States would be too high. Bonnie Kristian

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