MbS told US officials Khashoggi was 'dangerous Islamist': report

MbS told US officials Khashoggi was 'dangerous Islamist': report
2 min read
02 November, 2018
Mohammed bin Salman reportedly aimed to discredit the journalist in a phone call with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is widely believed to have ordered Khashoggi's killing [Getty]
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a "dangerous Islamist" in a phone call with US diplomats, according to media reports.

The kingdom's defacto ruler, known as MbS, reportedly spoke with President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton days after Khashoggi's disappearance, but before Riyadh admitted he was killed.

According to Washington Post sources, the crown prince "urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the US-Saudi alliance and said the journalist was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood," a group long opposed by Bolton and other senior Trump officials.

Riyadh initially denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance after he entered the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, insisting he left unharmed. Two weeks after a series of changing narratives, Riyadh admitted the journalist was murdered in a premeditated attack at the hands of "rogue agents", without the knowledge of MbS.

Turkish investigators believe the 59-year-old dissident was violently killed and dismembered inside the consulate, with MbS widely believed to have ordered the hit. Khashoggi's body has not yet been found.

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Reports the Saudis attempted to discredit Khashoggi in private before acknowledging his death contradict MbS's public comments last week that "the crime was very painful to all Saudis". Foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said it was a "terrible mistake".

A Saudi official denied the crown prince made the allegations, saying that "routine calls do exist from time to time" between MbS and top US officials but that "no such commentary was conveyed".

Meanwhile the White House declined to reveal information on phone calls between the Saudis. Washington Post said that according to people familiar with the matter, MbS has spoken to Kushner multiple times, but the most recent call with Bolton and Kushner happened on 9 October.

MbS has developed close ties with the Trump White House, and especially with Kushner, since becoming crown prince.

Kushner made a secret trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2017 to discuss a Middle East peace proposal, and has championed the young ruler as a reformer.

In a statement Khashoggi's family said the characterisation was false. "Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person in any way possible. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous," the statement said.