Pompeo doubles down on US help for Saudi Arabia, says no direct proof of Saudi chief’s involvement in journalist’s homicide


In an unique interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Pompeo once more famous an absence of direct proof linking bin Salman to Khashoggi’s homicide.

“I’ve learn each piece of intelligence that is within the possession of the US authorities,” Pompeo mentioned. “And when it’s executed, while you full that evaluation, there isn’t any direct proof linking him to the homicide of Jamal Khashoggi. That could be a correct assertion, it is a vital assertion, and it’s a assertion that we’re making publicly at present.”

When requested if the CIA has a excessive confidence of the de facto Saudi chief’s involvement, Pompeo advised CNN, “I can not touch upon intelligence issues.”

The secretary of state’s feedback come as a brand new report particulars some intercepts underpinning the CIA’s evaluation. The Wall Street Journal reports that the intelligence company’s evaluation contains digital communications the crown prince despatched to an in depth adviser who oversaw the 15-man crew that killed Khashoggi.

The crown prince despatched 11 digital messages to his communications chief, Saud al-Qahtani, within the hours earlier than and after Khashoggi’s loss of life in October, the Journal reported, citing excerpts of the CIA’s evaluation it had reviewed.

The CIA’s evaluation says the content material of the messages between bin Salman and Qahtani is unknown, and it doesn’t specify the shape by which the messages had been despatched, based on the Journal.

The evaluation additionally says that bin Salman had advised associates in August 2017 that if his makes an attempt to influence Khashoggi to return to his nation had been unsuccessful, “we might probably lure him outdoors Saudi Arabia and make preparations,” noting that the communication “appears to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched towards Khashoggi,” based on the Journal.

The Journal mentioned it’s unclear from the excerpts whether or not the quote is instantly from bin Salman or one other particular person describing his remarks.

Khashoggi, a Saudi royal insider earlier than changing into an outspoken critic of the federal government, was killed in October by Saudi operatives throughout a go to to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to acquire papers for his upcoming marriage.

The CIA mentioned it has “medium-to-high confidence” that the crown prince “personally focused” Khashoggi and “most likely ordered his loss of life,” the Journal reported, citing the company’s evaluation.

“To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order,” the evaluation learn, based on the Journal.

“We assess it’s extremely unlikely this crew of operators … carried out the operation with out Muhammed bin Salman’s authorization,” the evaluation mentioned, based on the newspaper.

The CIA’s assessment, which was first reported by The Washington Submit, was compiled final month and concluded that bin Salman had personally ordered Khashoggi’s loss of life.

Sources advised CNN that the US intelligence company had based mostly its evaluation on out there intelligence, versus any particular smoking gun-type of proof.

The Saudi authorities continues to disclaim any involvement from the crown prince in Khashoggi’s loss of life.

“(His Royal Highness) the Crown Prince communicates commonly with numerous senior officers throughout the Royal Court docket on totally different issues,” a Saudi official advised the Journal. “At no time did HRH correspond with any Saudi officers in any authorities entity on harming Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen. We proceed to categorically reject any accusations based mostly on speculations.”

A CIA spokesman declined to remark to the Journal. A White Home official advised the newspaper on Friday that the White Home does not touch upon intelligence issues.

The President and the White Home have continued to say that there isn’t any remaining conclusion and that US intelligence companies “proceed to evaluate all info.”

“It might very nicely be that the Crown Prince had data of this tragic occasion — perhaps he did and perhaps he did not,” President Donald Trump mentioned in an announcement about two weeks in the past after receiving a briefing on the CIA’s evaluation.

The homicide of Khashoggi, who labored for the Washington Submit, has prompted a international coverage downside for the Trump administration and has drawn consideration to each Trump’s enterprise ties to the nation and the connection between bin Salman and Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

The Trump administration has imposed penalties on 17 people over their alleged roles within the killing of Khashoggi. The Saudi authorities has charged 11 individuals with involvement within the journalist’s loss of life.

Requested on Saturday if the US would proceed the identical degree of strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Pompeo mentioned the US was working with Saudi Arabia in Afghanistan in addition to towards Iran.

“They’re an infinite help to us,” Pompeo mentioned. “They’re a relationship that has mattered for 70 years throughout Republican and Democrat administrations alike, and stay an necessary relationship. We’re aiming to maintain that relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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