Jamal Khashoggi killing: Turkey issues arrest warrant for Saudi prince allies

US newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, have reported that the Central Intelligence Agency has evidence that Prince Mohammed exchanged 11 messages with his close aide Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the murder, just before and after it took place.

United States lawmakers on Tuesday heard the CIA's assessment about Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman's role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi first hand from the agency's director, who confirmed and affirmed what they have long suspected. Lindsey Graham was only more convinced of the crown prince's involvement.

But President Donald Trump and some of his fellow Republicans have argued that Washington should not take action that would risk its relationship with Riyadh, which signed a 110 billion dollar arms deal with the U.S. in May 2017.

"I'm not going to destroy the world economy and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia", Trump said at the time. The kingdom implicated some of the crown prince's associates in the murder and Saudi authorities later detained several high-ranking officials.

Pompeo and Mattis are now expected to give a briefing to the House on Yemen and Saudi Arabia on December 13, ahead of a Democratic takeover of the House in January following the party's gains in the midterm elections.

Graham rejected their assessment outright, saying "you have to be willfully blind" not to conclude that the murder was orchestrated by people under Prince Mohammed's command.

In one image shared by state news agency Anadolu, two-time Oscar victor Penn was seen outside the mission where the Washington Post contributor was strangled before he was cut up into pieces by a 15-man Saudi team especially sent to Istanbul for the task.

On November 20, Trump issued an official statement on U.S./Saudi Arabia relations, emphasizing that he still considered the Saudi royal family valuable allies and had no interest in imposing any sanctions on the Saudi government.

Haspel had faced mounting pressure to speak to senators and more fully explain the CIA's findings after the White House last week excluded her from a Senate briefing.

"Let me just put it this way: I think if he was in front of a jury, he would have a unanimous verdict in about 30 minutes".

"I'm on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, so everything they knew, whatever they learned in that meeting, we've known", he said.

The president has touted Saudi arms deals worth billions of dollars to the US and recently thanked Saudi Arabia for plunging oil prices.

But "the brutality of this murder is beyond my sharing it with you", Graham said.

Khashoggi, a US resident who wrote for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October in what USA officials have described as an elaborate plot.

The crown prince is "crazy" and "a wrecking ball" who is "complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible", Graham said in withering criticism of an American ally.

Last week senators voted to move ahead with a resolution that could cut USA assistance for the military campaign in Yemen. "That might be the real policy question".

They say Gina Haspel is to talk to Senate leaders leaders on Tuesday.

  • Rogelio Becker