During a September 2017 conversation with an aide, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said if he could not get journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, either on his own accord or by force, he would go after him "with a bullet," current and former U.S. and foreign officials told The New York Times.
This intercepted conversation between the crown prince and Turki Aldakhil was included in a December intelligence report that has been circulated around spy agencies and the White House, the Times reports. The National Security Agency and other U.S. spy agencies have been going through years of the crown prince's text and voice communications, the Times reports, and analysts have determined that he may not have literally meant he would shoot him, but would have him killed another way.
Khashoggi was critical of the Saudi government, and after going into self-exile in the U.S, he began writing columns for The Washington Post in 2017. In another intercepted conversation, the crown prince reportedly complained to aide Saud al-Qahtani that Khashoggi held too much sway over people and was ruining his reputation as a reformer.
Khashoggi was killed in October 2018, with Saudi operatives strangling and dismembering him inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing, something Saudi Arabia has denied. In a statement, a Saudi official told the Times that the kingdom is "focused on uncovering the full truth" about Khashoggi's murder and "ensuring complete accountability."