MBS says murder of Jamal Khashoggi was a ‘mistake’


Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince whom US intelligence officials blame for ordering the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, has called the killing a “mistake.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi national who lived in the United States, was murdered and dismembered by Saudi government personnel at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018. Excerpts of an audio recording of his final moments, widely believed to have been made by bugs placed in the building by Turkish intelligence, were later made public by news outlets.

“It was a mistake. It was painful,” said bin Salman during an interview with Fox News. He told anchor Bret Baier that “everyone involved” in the murder served time in prison.

“We try to reform the security system to be sure that this kind of mistake doesn’t happen again, and we can see in the past five years nothing of those things happened. It’s not part of what Saudi Arabia does,” he said. “We take all the legal measurements that any country took… We did that in Saudi Arabia and the case being closed”.

The late Washington Post opinion columnist was an outspoken critic of the Saudi government, and his murder sparked outrage across the globe even as it drew a muted response from the Trump administration.

Investigations by US media outlets subsequently found that the murder was carried out by Saudi security officials with close ties to the crown prince.

And in November 2019, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence officials had concluded that bin Salman, who is commonly referred to by his initials MBS, had ordered the grisly killing.

While Saudi officials have denied that MBS was involved in the late columnist’s murder, a declassified intelligence assessment released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that US officials believed that he’d given a proverbial green light to the operation in Istanbul.

“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the assessment said. “We base this assessment on the Crown Prince’s control of decision making in the Kingdom since 2017, the direct involvement of a key adviser and members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective detail in the operation, and the Crown Prince’s support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi”.

The DNI assed that MBS’ “absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations” made it “highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization”.

President Joe Biden had promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” over the murder during his 2020 campaign, but he has instead tried to shore up relations with the kingdom and push for normalisation of Saudi Arabia’s ties with Israel.