A phone call to Saudi Arabia shortly after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi may link Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to the premeditated murder.
By Josh Babb
Rabat – Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a Saudi security officer who frequently traveled with the crown prince prior to his role in Khashoggi’s murder and one of a 15-man hit squad, made the call shortly after Khashoggi was strangled to death in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
In the Turkish recording of the call, Mutreb is heard instructing his superior over the phone to “tell your boss” the mission had been accomplished. Turkish officials told their US counterparts they think Mutreb was calling one of MBS’s aides back in Saudi Arabia.
The New York Times reported that three people familiar with the contents of the recording said it did not specifically mention the crown prince by name, although US intelligence officials believe “your boss” most likely refers to MBS.
Turkey shared the recording with CIA director Gina Haspel last month, when she visited Turkey to gather evidence about the journalist’s murder. Although a Saudi citizen, Khashoggi resided in the US at the time of his death.
Another part of the recording revealed that Khashoggi was quickly strangled after entering the consulate and dismembered with a bonesaw. Investigators have still not found his remains.
While Mutreb made the call in Arabic, and translations may differ, Mutreb reportedly said, “The deed was done.” In a statement released after the Times report, a Saudi official said Turkey had allowed them to listen to the audio, and “At no moment was there any reference to the mentioned phrase in the recordings.”
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated he had shared the recording with Saudi Arabia, the US, France, and other Western allies. However, on Monday, French officials stated they had no such recording in their possession.
“If the Turkish President has information to give to us, he must give it to us,” said French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Le Drian added that Erdogan risked turning the case into a “political game.”
Evidence implicating MBS in the death of Khashoggi is certain to intensify pressure on President Trump’s administration, who have viewed the crown prince as an invaluable ally in shaping the White House’s foreign policy goals in the Middle East.
Trump himself has suggested even more information coming out about the case could alter his views. He sayid last Wednesday, “I’ll have a much stronger opinion on that subject over the next week.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a phone call with MBS last week, stated, “The United States will hold all those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable.”