Senate resolution says Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi murder

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tours an innovation of Saudi Arabian technology including an exhibit by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology during a visit to Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 24. (Josh Reynolds  AP Im

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Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from SC who has often been a Trump ally, said the only conclusion was that Prince Mohammed, known as MBS, is responsible for the killing.

Haspel appeared on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to brief a dozen or so senators on intelligence the CIA had about Khashoggi's death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey two months ago.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the Saudi government, but has insisted it was not King Salman.

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw", said Graham, referring to reports that the Saudi team had included a forensic expert who arrived with equipment to dismember Khashoggi's body.

Noting that, based on the structure of the Saudi state, "you could not put this thing together without [Mohammed bin Salman's] knowledge", Ahmed said that "probably more people are involved" and that future investigations would reveal an expanding web of connections through the Saudi government between people who helped make Khashoggi's murder happen.

"I think the reason they don't draw the conclusion that he's complicit, is because the administration doesn't want to go down that road, not because there's not evidence to suggest he's complicit", he said. "Period. We believe in "freedom of the press" here, and we should be promoting that ideal around the world, not excusing it because it's politically convenient in excusing the blunders of our president".

Jamal Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

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United States senators say they are more certain than ever after a private Central Intelligence Agency briefing that the Saudi crown prince had a role in the murder of a journalist.

Republican Sen. Richard Shelby said he wouldn't rule out supporting the resolution this time when it comes up for a full vote. "We have to figure out a way to condemn the butchery and the murder in the strongest possible terms without blowing up the Middle East", Kennedy said.

The resolution also called on Saudi Arabia to end a blockade imposed by itself and three other Arab states on Qatar in June previous year and seek a political solution in the worst diplomatic rift to have struck the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). They did so against the advice of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who said US involvement in the Yemen conflict is central to the Trump administration's broader goal of containing Iranian influence in the Middle East.

The U.S. has slapped sanctions on Saudis involved in the murder.

The CIA had already concluded with high confidence that the prince was behind the murder, but senators said Haspel provided a much more fulsome briefing than the one they had gotten from Cabinet officials, including new evidence. "As to Pompeo and Mattis, I have great respect for them".

Graham has said the resolution would be followed by an effort to impose sanctions.

"Saudi Arabia's a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving - but not at all costs", Graham said.

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