Saudi prince MBS ordered operation to lure and detain Jamal Khashoggi, U.S. intelligence intercepts reveal

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Washington Post contributing journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia where he was to be detained, U.S. intercepts show. The whole torture, dismemberment, and death inside the Saudi embassy thing that apparently happened was a rendition gone bad, according to this report.

From Shane Harris at the Washington Post, whose reporting is based on descriptions of U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan:

The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong.

A former U.S. intelligence official — who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter — noted that the details of the operation, which involved sending two teams totaling 15 men, in two private aircraft arriving and departing Turkey at different times, bore the hallmarks of a “rendition,” in which someone is extralegally removed from one country and deposited for interrogation in another.

But Turkish officials have concluded that whatever the intent of the operation, Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. Investigators have not found his body, but Turkish officials have released video surveillance footage of Khashoggi entering the consulate on the afternoon of Oct. 2. There is no footage that shows him leaving, they said.

The intelligence about Saudi Arabia’s earlier plans to detain Khashoggi have raised questions about whether the Trump administration should have warned the journalist that he might be in danger.

Intelligence agencies have a “duty to warn” people who might be kidnapped, seriously injured or killed, according to 2015 federal directive. “The obligation applies regardless of whether the person is a U.S. citizen. Khashoggi was a U.S. resident,” Harris writes.

The Trump administration's response to the likely abduction and murder of Jamal Khashoggi is sickening.

Administration officials have not commented on the intelligence reports that showed a Saudi plan to lure Khashoggi.

“Though I cannot comment on intelligence matters, I can say definitively the United States had no advance knowledge of [Khashoggi’s] disappearance,” deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters Wednesday. Asked whether the U.S. government would have had a duty to warn Khashoggi if it possessed information that he was in jeopardy, Palladino declined to answer what he called a “hypothetical question.”

Read the whole piece.

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