In the hours before and after the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a senior officer who allegedly monitored the murder killed several embassies. after the people who are familiar with the matter.
The communication between the two men is another piece of evidence that ties the Crown Prince to the assassination of Khashoggi, a former Palace insider who became a prominent critic and was also a contributing Washington Post columnist.
The CIA concluded the presence of the embassies in its classified assessment that Mohammed Khashoggi's death has probably been ordered, a view that representatives of the authorities have shared with members of the Congress and the White House.
Mohammed exchanged the news on October 2 with Saud al-Qahtani, one of his closest confidants and a wild public backer, who has kept a blacklist of those whom he considers unfaithful to the kingdom. The content of the messages and the form of the messages was not known by the persons familiar with the matter.
The Wall Street Journal reported in part of the CIA's written assessment on Saturday that Mohammed had sent at least 11 messages to Qahtani before and after the murder.
The CIA has assessed their assessment that Muhammad was involved in the murder with "medium to high confidence". Officially, officials have said it is unimaginable that the prince, who exercises total authority over the government, could not have done so about such a bold operation. The post office had previously described officials so that the CIA had great confidence in their assessment.
"The accepted position is that this will by no means happen without him being aware or involved," said one US official familiar with the conclusions of the CIA. The CIA declined to comment, and the people who were familiar with the intelligence services said the agency had found no evidence whatsoever linking Muhammad directly to the killing.
The Trump Administration representatives on Sunday further emphasized this point, emphasizing the importance of the United States and maintaining a close relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom has admitted that its activists killed Khashoggi, but it is said the operation was not approved by the Crown Prince and carried out by villain actors.
"I've read every message owned by the United States Government," Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo said in an interview with CNN on Saturday, "and when it's done, when you complete this analysis, there's none direct evidence linking him to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. "
Pompeo, who declined to comment on the CIA rating, said the United States was working closely with Saudi on important foreign policy issues, including Afghanistan -Arabia combined The kingdom was an important regional counterweight to Iran.
"It has been a relationship that has been important to the Republican and Democratic administrations for 70 years," said Pompeo, who previously served as CIA director. "It remains an important relationship, and we aim to maintain that relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis asked the question of Veran The responsibility of the killers and the strategic importance of American-Saudi relations were separate issues.
"The responsibility for killing Khashoggi is on its own. It's different from all the other things that are going on, "said Mattis at Reagan's National Defense Forum in California.
"Right now we do not have a smoking weapon," he said, noting that he had seen all the latest news on Friday's matter. "We have no smoking weapon [showing] in which the Crown Prince was involved. We definitely need to continue exploring. , , all aspects of the murder and find all involved, but that should not in any way prevent us from fundamentally confronting Iran, "which the Trump government regards as its main enemy in the Middle East, and which is essential for Saudi Arabia.
Qahtani has emerged as a key player in killing and a compelling connection to the prince. He shows up in another part of the CIA's assessment: A suspected member of the Saudi hit team, overseen by US and Turkish officials Qahtani, Maher Mutreb, called Qahtani from the consulate to inform him that Khashoggi is dead. Mutreb, a security official who often sided with the Crown Prince, is seen on surveillance cameras that entered and left the Consulate on the day Khashoggi was killed.
US intelligence also has communication sections before Khashoggi was killed. Mohammed had ordered an operation to lure him to Saudi Arabia. Friends of Khashoggis said Qahtani had called the journalist and increased the potential of his work for the Crown Prince if he would end his self-imposed exile in Virginia and return to his homeland.
Communications intercepted by the United States in July show that Mohammed had questioned senior Saudi intelligence officials about the status of a plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, according to an intelligence official.
President Trump, who has also been briefed on the results of the CIA, has undoubtedly blamed the Crown Prince, who works closely with presidential son-in-law and high-level advisor Jared Kushner on Middle Eastern issues.
"Maybe he did or maybe not!" Trump said in a statement last month, adding that the real culprits may never be known. The President has said that the strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia and the benefits to the US economy of Saudi Arabian arms purchases are too important for her to tear down the killing of Khashoggi he has condemned.
But the recent revelation of intelligence that associates Muhammad and his adjutant Qahtani with the murder could increase the pressure on the administration to take more punitive measures.
The Ministry of Finance has sanctioned 17 people involved in Khashoggi's death, including Qahtani, Mutreb and Saudi Consulate General in Turkey, Mohammad al-Otaibi. However, some members of Congress have called for further action, and Republicans have begun to distance themselves from the government for supporting the Saudis.
Last week, in a rebuke of Saudi Arabia and government administration of the Khashoggi case, a majority of The Senate voted in favor of promoting a measure to end US military support for Saudi Arabia for its war in Yemen Iranian supported fighters.
Mekhennet reported from Frankfurt am Main. Missy Ryan in Simi Valley, California, and John Hudson in Washington contributed to the report.