(vf) 'Crazy' crown prince is 'complicit' in Jamal Khashoggi killing, said Republican US senator Lindsey Graham after the director of the CIA Gina Haspel updated senators about the case behind closed doors, where Mohamed bin Salman was portrayed as a criminal and liar as crazy, dangerous, a wrecking ball, and "complicit in the murder to the highest level possible" of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after he entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul on 2nd October to process marriage papers.
Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the senate foreign relations committee who had already earlier called for a strong US reaction to Mr Khashoggi's death and supports legislation to end all US support for the Saudi coalition embroiled in the Yemen war, said: "The views that I had before have only solidified."
The spy agency has evidence he exchanged messages with Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the Saudi reporter's murder.
At a news conference in Riyadh on Thursday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Shalaan bin Rajih Shalaan said Khashoggi was given a lethal injection and his body was dismembered inside the consulate after his death.
The body parts were then handed over to a local "collaborator" outside the grounds, he added.
A composite sketch of the collaborator has been produced and investigations are continuing to locate the remains.
Eleven unidentified people have been charged over the journalist's death and the prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five of them.
Meanwhile also Istanbul's chief prosecutors office has filed international arrest warrants for Saudi officials. The prosecutor's office believes there is "strong suspicion" that Ahmed al-Asiri and Saud al-Qahtani were among the planners of the murder.
While meanwhile another Saudi journalist was tortured to death, Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz (27), currently living in Canada, has filed a lawsuit against Israeli software company NSO Group, known for building state of the art spy tech which it sells to governments.
According to the lawsuit, Israel-based NSO Group sold spyware to the Saudi government, which was then used to spy on mobile communications between Abdulaziz and Jamal Khashoggi.
Once installed, the Pegasus spyware is able to listen in on calls, read messages, record keystrokes and track internet history. The phone's microphone can also be turned on remotely, allowing the spyware to listen in on conversations without the owner of the phone realising he or she is being listened to.
In the lawsuit, Abdulaziz claims the Saudi government spied on conversations Abdulaziz and Khashoggi had.
In a response to the lawsuit, NSO Group said in a statement "licensed for the sole use of providing governments and law enforcement agencies the ability to lawfully fight terrorism and crime," the New York Times reported.
It is assumed by several analysts that the House of Saud wanted to silence the Washington Post employee for his intelligence activities serving Turkey and the USA.
At an earlier hearing last week, where the CIA director was conspicuously absent, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis told senators there was no direct evidence of the crown prince's involvement in Khashoggi's death - to walk the talk of President Trump who has said the CIA findings on the crown prince were not conclusive.
However U.S. President Donald Trump still balances on the tight rope with which he snared MbS to get rock-bottom oil deals and does not want to jeopardize the multi-billion arms-deals the USA has with Saudi Arabia.
Similar Mafia morals also had seen greedy business-people, including IMF matron Christine Lagarde, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, CEO Fink of the U.S. asset-management giant BlackRock and Siemens boss Kaes still attending the economic forum for the Future Investment Initiative - dubbed "Davos in the Desert" - at the end of October 2018. Just a few stayed away, like The New York Times, the Washington Post obviously, Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong , Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone, AOL founder Steve Case, HP Inc. executive Joanna Popper and Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Only Richard Branson went further and suspended talks with the PIF over a possible stake in his space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, and said that he also was suspending his directorships in Saudi Red Sea tourism projects.
'Zero chance' MBS not involved in Khashoggi killing
Based on the briefing by CIA chief, top senators say US must send strong message to Saudi crown prince over Khashoggi killing.
After a closed-door briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday, some top US senators have said there is "zero chance" Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) wasn't involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
"The views that I had before have only solidified," said Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has called for a strong reaction from the United States to Khashoggi's death and backs legislation to end all support for the Saudi coalition waging war in Yemen.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters, "You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organised by people under the command of MBS."
He added that it appeared the Trump administration does not want to recognise evidence of the crown prince's complicity.
Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, echoed the comments, saying he had zero doubt in his mind that Prince Mohammed ordered and monitored the killing of Khashoggi.
He added that if Prince Mohammed were put on trial, a jury would find him guilty in "about 30 minutes".
The comments come after Haspel briefed top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Appropriations and Intelligence committees. Other senators were also present.
Senators from both parties were angry last week that the CIA director did not attend a briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. The Trump administration denied allegations it blocked Haspel from appearing.
At last week's briefing, Pompeo and Mattis said there was no hard evidence MBS was behind the killing and urged senators not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the incident. The CIA has reportedly assessed, however, that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly avoided any assertion that Prince Mohammed was involved in the killing and said the CIA had "feelings" the royal was culpable but not a firm conviction.
"I hate the crime, I hate the cover-up. I will tell you this: The crown prince hates it more than I do, and they have vehemently denied it," he said late November.
In an earlier statement put out by the White House, Trump had praised Saudi Arabia as a "steadfast partner" and claimed, "We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi."
The US president warned that any punitive measures against Saudi Arabia or its ruling family could force Riyadh to sign arms deals with Russia and China instead of Washington.
Hours after last week's briefing, the Senate voted 63-37 to take up a resolution aimed at limiting the US involvement in the war in Yemen, where a Washington-backed Saudi-UAE coalition launched an intervention in 2015 through a massive air campaign targeting Houthi rebels. The next vote on the bill could come as early as Thursday.
Khashoggi was killed on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents needed for his planned marriage.
After offering contradictory statements for several days, Saudi Arabia admitted that Khashoggi was killed inside its consulate and his body was dismembered. The kingdom has repeatedly said Prince Mohammed had no knowledge of the killing, which Turkey said was ordered at the highest level of Saudi leadership.
US senators introduce resolution blaming MBS for Khashoggi murder
Bipartisan group of senators introduces measure saying Saudi crown prince is 'complicit' in the killing of journalist.
Six top US senators from across party lines have introduced a scathing resolution to hold the Saudi crown prince accountable for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi more than two months ago.
The proposal, which was introduced on Wednesday, says the Senate "has a high level of confidence" that Mohammed bin Salman "was complicit in the murder".
If approved by the Senate, it would officially condemn Prince Mohammed, also known as MBS, for the killing of Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October.
"This resolution - without equivocation - definitively states that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was complicit in the murder of Mr Khashoggi and has been a wrecking ball to the region jeopardising our national security interests on multiple fronts," Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator and close ally of President Donald Trump, said in a statement.
The move by the US senators came as Istanbul's chief prosecutor filed warrants for the arrest of a top aide to MBS and the deputy head of the kingdom's foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince.
Saudi Arabia has said the crown prince had no prior knowledge of the murder. After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate and his body dismembered after negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Yemen war, GCC rift
The strongly-worded resolution also holds MBS accountable for alleged atrocities committed during the war in Yemen, which Saudi Arabia entered in 2015 through a massive bombing campaign.
Since then, the US-backed Saudi-UAE alliance has launched more than 18,000 air raids, part of a war which has killed tens of thousands of civilians.
The senators urged the kingdom to negotiate directly with representatives of the Houthi rebels to end the war in Yemen.
The resolution also called on Saudi Arabia to end a blockade imposed by itself and three other Arab states on Qatar in June last year and seek a political solution in the worst diplomatic rift to have struck the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The bipartisan group of senators also wants the release of blogger Raif Badawi, women's rights activists and other political prisoners held in Saudi Arabia.
Their move came a day after some senators said there is "zero chance" MBS was not involved in Khashoggi's murder following a closed-door briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Tuesday's briefing came a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis had told senators that there was no hard evidence MBS was behind the killing and urged senators not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the incident. The CIA has reportedly assessed, however, that Prince Mohammed ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
Trump has repeatedly avoided any assertion that Prince Mohammed was involved in the October 2 killing and said the CIA had "feelings" the royal was culpable but not a firm conviction.
Commenting on the senators' resolution, Nabeel Khoury, a former US diplomat and deputy chief of mission in Yemen, said the Senate is starting to see MBS as a destabilising influence.
"Trump has lost the debate with Congress on what should be done about the Khashoggi murder and while he was out with Mattis and Pompeo arguing about the value of Saudi Arabia, what Congress is telling him is, 'No one is contesting that, what we're contesting is the direction the Saudi policy has taken under MBS'," he told Al Jazeera from Washington, DC.
"They have now linked all the destabilising actions that MBS has taken, starting with Yemen, passing by the Khashoggi murder onto Qatar and even Lebanon.
"The administration will have to act behind the scenes maybe to pressure Saudi Arabia into some kind of acceptable corrective force or this is going to get worse - in the end, Congress, especially the House, controls the purse strings and can eventually force the administration's hands."
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies