By Warren P. Strobel
Updated Dec. 1, 2018 1:33 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his adviser, who oversaw the effort to kill Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, around the time of Khashoggi’s killing, according to a classified CIA report obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the excerpts of the assessment reported by the Journal, the crown prince told associates in August 2017 “we could possibly lure [Khashoggi] outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” if the crown prince could not convince the dissident Saudi journalist, who was living in Virginia, to return to Saudi Arabia.
The Journal noted that it was unclear from the excerpts whether the comments came directly from the crown prince or from someone describing his communications.
The report states that the communication “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi,” according to the Journal.
Another excerpt reportedly states that the CIA has “medium-to-high confidence” that Crown Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.”
“To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order,” according to the excerpts reported by the Journal.
The adviser in question, Saud al-Qahtani, was sanctioned by the White House last month for his involvement in Khashoggi’s death.
The CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing, though President Trump has cast doubt on those news reports, saying the agency did not come to a definitive conclusion.
The Senate on Wednesday advanced a resolution that would end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen’s civil war, issuing a rebuke to Trump after the White House opposed the bill. The resolution advanced even as the administration vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia following global outcry over the killing of Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain marriage documents for his upcoming wedding.