Turkey's evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi last month includes a phone call from one of the 15 men who apparently murdered him in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, The New York Times reports. In the recording, Saudi security officer Maer Abdulaziz Mutreb tells a superior in Saudi Arabia to "tell your boss" that the deed was done, right after the killing. Turkish intelligence believes the person on the other end of the call, conducted in Arabic, was an aide to the crown prince.
Turkey played the recording for CIA Director Gina Haspel in Ankara last month, and on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country has shared the audio with not just the U.S. but also Saudi Arabia and other Western allies. However, Turkish officials say no other government has copies of the recordings, just transcripts.
Bin Salman's name is not mentioned in the audio, and Saudi officials deny he had "any knowledge whatsoever" of Khashoggi's killing and said there were no instructions to "tell your boss" in the parts of the recordings Turkey played for them. But "even without definitive proof, intelligence agencies had already concluded that only Prince Mohammed could have ordered the operation to kill Mr. Khashoggi, given the personal character of his governance and the depth of his control over the kingdom," the Times notes.
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"A phone call like that is about as close to a smoking gun as you are going to get," former CIA officer Bruce Riedel tells the Times. "It is pretty incriminating evidence." Without irrefutable evidence, President Trump is unlikely to cut ties with bin Salman, the Times reports, "but the shift in power in Congress, where Democrats take control of the House in January, is also increasing pressure on the administration to take more punitive action." Read more at The New York Times.
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