‘Khashoggi was killed as a result of Saudi royal family feud’ - Washington Post

A Saudi royal family feud which helped feed the paranoia and recklessness of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman eventually led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, journalist David Ignatius said in the Washington Post.

Ignatius said the real real-life drama inside the Saudi court had been described to him in a series of interviews with prominent Saudis and U.S. and European experts in the weeks since Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. 

The family feud began in January 2015, while the former Saudi King Abdullah was on his deathbed, Ignatius said. “Abdullah’s sons and courtiers briefly delayed informing his successor, King Salman, that the monarch had passed - perhaps hoping to control the court’s stash of money and sustain powerful positions for Abdullah’s wing of the family,” he said. 

The fight between the two powerful clans within the Saudi royal family extended to the United States, China, Switzerland and other countries, as the events made the crown prince increasingly anxious and aggressive toward those he considered enemies, Ignatius said. 

Starting in the spring of 2017, a team of Saudi intelligence operatives, under the control of the royal court, began organising kidnappings of dissidents abroad and at home, holding them in covert sites, and using harsh interrogation techniques.

As a result, Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate last month by a team sent from Riyadh, since his journalism and his ties to Qatar and Turkey offended the crown prince who issued in July 2018 an order to bring back the journalist, Ignatius said. 

The Saudi public prosecutor has arrested 18 Saudis related to Khashoggi’s murder and five top Saudi officials were fired, including Saud al-Qahtani, Prince Mohammed’s adviser. 

Qahtani is also among 17 Saudis sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for their suspected roles in the journalist’s death. The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that Qahtani was a part of the operation coordinated and executed by Maher Mutreb, a former intelligence officer, who was also acting as the crown prince’s bodyguard.

Qahtani said that he had exchanged multiple messages with Prince Mohammed in the two days surrounding Khashoggi’s murder, but according to Ignatius it might be impossible to prove a connection between the crown prince and the murder unless those messages are disclosed.