Saudi crown prince once said he would use a ‘bullet’ on Khashoggi: report

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2017 reportedly told a top aide he would use “a bullet” on Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist murdered in October, if he did not return to Saudi Arabia and cease his criticisms of the Saudi royal court. 

The conversation was recently intercepted by American intelligence agencies seeking to definitively identify Khashoggi’s killer, according to The New York Times.

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The National Security Agency (NSA) has been providing the White House and other intelligence agencies for several months with reports on the crown prince’s communications, according to The Times. The Times obtained the conversation from current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of intelligence reports.

Officials told The Times that in the 2017 conversation, Prince Mohammed said Khashoggi, a Saudi native, should be returned to the kingdom by force if he would not do so willingly. If he could not come back to Saudi Arabia, Mohammed said he would go after Khashoggi “with a bullet.”

While analysts said the crown prince may have not intended to literally mean Khashoggi would be shot, he may have used the phrase as a metaphor to refer to killing the dissident.

In another conversation days before, Mohammed also reportedly told another aide that Khashoggi had grown too influential. When warned that any action against Khashoggi, a Virginia resident, could spark backlash, Mohammed responded that the kingdom should not concern itself with how the international community viewed the way it dealt with its subjects.

Days after the two conversations, Khashoggi wrote his first column for The Post, titled, “Saudi Arabia Wasn’t Always This Repressive. Now It’s Unbearable,” which focused on the crown prince's intense crackdown on dissent.

Saudi Arabia has arrested several officials it said were involved in Khashoggi’s murder and has maintained that the royal court was not involved in the killing. The Senate unanimously passed a resolution in December finding Mohammed responsible fr the killing. However, President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE has said intelligence agencies did not find conclusive evidence that the crown prince directed the murder.