Recording hints at Saudi crown prince role in Khashoggi murder

Recording hints at Saudi crown prince role in Khashoggi murder
A recording of Jamal Khashoggi's murder has led some to believe the killing was ordered by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
2 min read
13 November, 2018
Khashoggi's murder sparked outrage across the world [Getty]

A newly released recording of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has led to further speculation that Saudi Arabia's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was behind the killing.

Turkey had earlier this week said that Canada, France, the UK, US and Saudi Arabia intelligence teams were now in possession of audio recordings detailing Khashoggi's killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Ankara also said that Saudi intelligence were so outraged by the recording that they believed the killers of Khashoggi "were on heroin".

"The recording is truly atrocious. In fact, when the Saudi intelligence officer listened to the recording he was so shocked that he said 'this one probably took heroin. Only someone who took heroin would do it,'" President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, according to pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak.

On Sunday, a Turkish journalist claimed Khashoggi's last words were: "I'm suffocating... take this bag off my head, I'm claustrophobic."
After weeks of denials, Saudi Arabia finally admitted that senior officials and intelligence agents were behind the murder of the dissident journalist, but denied Mohammed bin Salman played any role in the operation.

This scenario has been rejected by most Saudi analysts.

Shortly after the killing of Khashoggi, that one of the members of an alleged murder squad told their superiors over the phone to "tell your boss" the operation had been completed, according to The New York Times.

US security officials believe "the boss" refers to Mohammed bin Salman, even though he wasn't directly named in the recording.

"A phone call like that is about as close to a smoking gun as you are going to get," Bruce O. Riedel, a former CIA officer who now works with the Brookings Institution said according to the outlet. "It is pretty incriminating evidence."

Mohammed bin Salman has rose from being a relatively little-known royal to the most powerful man in Saudi Arabia, after the elevation of his father, Salman, to king.

Authority and key institutions have been placed into the hands of the father and son rulers, with most leading princes stripped of their positions since the recent centralisation of power in the kingdom.

Mohammed bin Salman also ordered the detention of scores of powerful princes, politicians and business leaders, who might one day challenge his power.

Meanwhile scores of activists have also been detained, including women's rights and pro-democracy campaigners.

The Yemen war, which many believe the crown prince has escalated, has also killed thousands of civilians and threatens to plunge the country into famine.