Written byShiladitya Ray ·
Officials familiar with the matter have said that they have high confidence in the CIA's assessment.
Although Saudi Arabia claims otherwise, the CIA's findings are bound to cause significant tensions in US-Saudi Arabia relations.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2 to obtain documents for his forthcoming marriage. He was murdered the same day. After repeated denials, Saudi Arabia finally admitted the 59-year-old had been murdered at the mission in a "rogue" operation.
The CIA's conclusion came after intelligence agency examined multiple sources of intelligence, including purported audio tapes of the murder that Turkey had released to several powers.
Additionally, the CIA also examined a phone call between the Crown Prince and his brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi Ambassador to the US.
Interestingly, after the phone call, Khalid told Khashoggi to head to the embassy.
While it is not clear whether Khalid new about Khashoggi's impeding demise, what is clear is that he summoned Khashoggi to the embassy on the Crown Prince's directions.
Additionally, the audio tapes provided by Turkey revealed that Khashoggi had been eliminated inside the Saudi Consul General's office, who is heard expressing his displeasure about the clean up work that needed to be carried out in the aftermath of the assassination.
The CIA now believes that Crown Prince MbS sent a 15-man hit squad to Istanbul to eliminate Khashoggi, who has long been a dissident and a fierce critic of Riyadh.
Incidentally, the CIA's assessment of the Crown Prince's role in the assassination also coincides with assessments carried out by other governments, including several in Europe.
The verdict? The Crown Prince definitely had a hand.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia this week said that an 11-member team, charged with returning Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, went rogue and eliminated the journalist.
A Saudi prosecutor added that a death penalty would be sought against five.
Meanwhile, Khashoggi's body is yet to be found. Reports indicate that it was dissolved in acid and poured down the Saudi consulate drain.
The CIA's assessment comes a couple of days after US National Security Advisor John Bolton said that the Khashoggi tapes didn't implicate the Crown Prince.
Indeed, officials familiar with the investigation told the Washington Post, that while MbS was not directly implicated, the "accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved".
Of course, US President Donald Trump, who had so far avoided blaming MbS, has been informed about the findings, but reportedly remains skeptical about them.
That said, the aspersions cast on the Crown Prince now is bound to have an effect on the US' relations with Saudi Arabia, which Washington views as a key ally in the Middle East, and a bulwark against Iran.
Love World news?
Subscribe to stay updated.