Mohammed bin Salman told a top aide that he would use “a bullet” on Khashoggi.
Despite managing to so far dodge the proverbial bullet over the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is facing fresh claims that he was behind the assassination of the Saudi journalist.
The revelations came to light following a conversation that was intercepted by American intelligence agencies between the prince and an aide, which has become the most damning evidence in the case of the murdered journalist and proves that the prince was planning a hit.
The conversation took place between Prince Mohammed and his aide Turki Aldakhil, in September 2017. That same month Khashoggi started writing opinion pieces for The Washington Post and officials in the kingdom were growing increasingly alarmed about the journalist’s’ criticism of the Saudi government.
The report states that in that conversation, Prince Mohammed said that if Khashoggi could not be enticed back to Saudi Arabia, then he should be returned by force. He then added that if neither of those methods worked then he would go after Khashoggi “with a bullet.”
American intelligence analysts concluded that the crown prince did not necessarily mean to have Khashoggi shot, but more likely he used the phrase as a metaphor to emphasize that he had every intention of killing the journalist if he did not return to Saudi Arabia.
Sources say that the National Security Agency and other American spy agencies are sifting through years of the crown prince’s voice and text communications to get to the bottom of who was behind the murder. Experts reveal that the N.S.A. routinely intercepts and stores communications from foreign officials, including close allies of the United States.
The New York Times source reveals that for the past several months, the N.S.A. has circulated intelligence reports to other spy agencies, the White House and close foreign allies about the crown prince’s communications.
According to sources, the C.I.A. has already finished its first assessment of the operation, and concluded that Prince Mohammed had ordered the hit on Khashoggi.
The Saudi government has denied that the crown prince had any involvement in the killing. Controversially, despite the worldwide condemnation of the murder, the prince has become an ally of President Trump and the White House.