In 2017, Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told a top aide that he would use “a bullet” on journalist Jamal Khashoggi if the Washington Post columnist didn’t halt his dissident writing against the kingdom and return to Saudi Arabia, The New York Times reported Thursday evening.
According to current and former officials with knowledge of the intelligence reports who spoke to the Times, the conversation between Bin Salman and aide Turki Aldakhil was collected by U.S. intelligence and is considered to be among the most damning evidence against the crown prince and his denials of knowledge of Khashoggi’s murder. In October, Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. As details of the murder surfaced, global outrage against the crown prince — seen as the de facto leader of the kingdom — ensued.
During the September 2017 conversation, Bin Salman reportedly discussed ways to coax Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia or how to bring him back forcefully. Bin Salman suggested the “bullet” method as Plan C. According to the Times, the conversation is seen as evidence that Bin Salman may have premeditated ways to silence Khashoggi.
Bin Salman has denied involvement or knowledge of the incident and the kingdom has punished those responsible for carrying out the murder, despite reports that suggest the attackers would not have acted alone. Ignoring calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, President Trump has remained in Saudi Arabia’s corner, primarily due to a hefty economic deal between the two countries.