The CIA has evidence of multiple messages between the Saudi crown prince and the adviser who oversaw the Khashoggi assassination — bolstering the agency's assessment that the prince masterminded the murder.
The Washington Post reports that according to a leaked CIA report, Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to a close personal aide before and after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The aide, Saud Al-Qahtani, reportedly supervised the 15-man team that killed Khashoggi on October 2, and communicated directly with the team's leader Maher Mutreb in Istanbul.
According to the New York Times, Turkish intelligence recorded Mutreb on a phone call, saying 'tell your boss' that the mission had been carried out. It's believed he was talking to Qahtani.
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In communications intercepted by the U.S. intelligence community in August 2017, the prince told associates that if Khashoggi could not be persuaded to return to Saudi Arabia, they could lure him outside the country and make arrangements.
The content and form of the prince's messages to Qahtani are unknown, and there's currently no evidence irrefutably linking him to the killing.
Despite this, the CIA believes such an operation would not have been possible without his awareness or involvement.
CIA Director Gina Haspel will give a closed briefing to leaders of several U.S. Senate committees on Tuesday on the killing of Khashoggi, according to two sources familiar with the planned meeting.
Some lawmakers were angry Haspel did not participate in a Senate briefing by Trump administration officials last week on Khashoggi's death at the Saudiconsulate in Istanbul.
The CIA has assessed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Haspel would conduct a briefing.
At last week's briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there was no hard evidence the crown prince was behind the killing and urged senators not to downgrade ties with Saudi Arabia over the incident.
Haspel will brief the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Appropriations committees, the source said, adding that the Senate Intelligence Committee already had been briefed by the CIA chief.
A Senate source said Senate leaders would also participate in the briefing, which is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET.