Several United States Senators have affirmed the view that there is “zero chance” that the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi happened without the knowledge of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Senators emerged from a closed-door briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday fuming at the implications of Mohammed Bin Salman’s involvement and called for the implementation of domestic legislation known as the Magnitsky Act; which authorizes the US Government to impose sanctions against human rights offenders, freeze their assets and ban them from entering the country.
Leading Senators in the US now say they are more than certain that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in the horrific murder of Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. Republican Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker says that he has absolutely no doubt that the Crown Prince ordered the killing.
“I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing and knew exactly what was happening, planned it in advance. If he was in front of a jury he’d be convicted in 30 minutes guilty so question is what do we do about that? So far, it’s unfortunate, but I think they feel that this is something that’s come and past because the administration has spoken to this in a manner that really gives them immunity.”
The Journalist, who was a US resident and wrote for the Washington Post, was critical of the power wielding by MBS. Republican Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, who had been an outspoken critic of the Crown Prince since the details of Mr Khashoggi’s death began to emerge, said one had to be wilfully boring not to reach the same conclusions about the Prince.
“The Crown Prince is a wrecking ball; I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi to the highest level possible. I think the behaviour before the Khashoggi murder was beyond disturbing and I cannot see him being a reliable partner to the United States. Saudi Arabia and MBS are two different entities. If the Saudi Government is going to be in the hands of this man for a long time to come, I’d find it very difficult to do business because I think he’s crazy, I think he’s is dangerous and he has put the relationship at risk.”
Several Senators said they’d want to see the Magnitsky Act implemented as a result, but deep divisions remain in the Senate and with the Administration on how to proceed. Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey says only a strong response by the US will send a clear message that such actions are unacceptable.
“Only a strong response by the United States will send a clear and unequivocal message that such actions are not acceptable in the world’s stage and I think that’s more important than ever and I hope that Senator Graham and my legislation which would create a real set of consequences, mandatory global Magnitsky, a series of sanctions beyond those that exist would be a very strong answer to what has happened.”
The Trump Administration had said there is no hard evidence the Crown Prince was behind the killing and urged Senators not to downgrade ties with the Kingdom as a result. President Donald Trump has called Saudi Arabia a steadfast partner and earlier said the CIA had nothing definitive on the Prince’s involvement.
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