I get all the responsibility because it happened under my watch: MBS on Khashoggi murder

Published September 26, 2019
Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has not spoken publicly about the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. — AP/File
Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has not spoken publicly about the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. — AP/File

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said he bears responsibility for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by Saudi operatives “because it happened under my watch”, according to a PBS documentary to be broadcast next week.

Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, has not spoken publicly about the killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA and some Western governments have said he ordered it, but Saudi officials say he had no role.

The death sparked a global uproar, tarnishing the crown prince’s image and imperiling ambitious plans to diversify the economy of the world’s top oil exporter and open up cloistered Saudi society. He has not since visited the United States or Europe.

“It happened under my watch. I get all the responsibility, because it happened under my watch,” he told PBS’ Martin Smith, according to a preview of a documentary, “The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia”, set to air on October 1, ahead of the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s death.

After initial denials, the official Saudi narrative blamed the murder on rogue operatives. The public prosecutor said the then-deputy intelligence chief ordered the repatriation of Khashoggi, a royal insider who became an outspoken critic, but the lead negotiator ordered him killed after discussions for his return failed.

Saud al-Qahtani, a former top royal adviser whom Reuters reported gave orders over Skype to the killers, briefed the hit team on Khashoggi’s activities before the operation, the prosecutor said.

Asked how the killing could happen without him knowing about it, Smith quotes Prince Mohammed as saying: “We have 20 million people. We have 3 million government employees.”

“And they can take one of your planes?” Smith asked.

“I have officials, ministers to follow things, and they’re responsible. They have the authority to do that,” the crown prince responded.

Smith describes the December exchange, which apparently took place off camera, in the preview of the documentary.

A senior US administration official told Reuters in June the Trump administration was pressing Riyadh for “tangible progress” toward holding to account those behind the killing ahead.

Read: Nine key questions Saudi Arabia hasn’t answered about Khashoggi killing

Eleven Saudi suspects have been put on trial in secretive proceedings but only a few hearings have been held. A UN report has called for Prince Mohammed and other senior Saudi officials to be investigated.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, where he was to receive papers ahead of his wedding. His body was reportedly dismembered and removed from the building, and his remains have not been found.

Opinion

Editorial

16 Jan, 2022

Omicron threat

AS Pakistan grapples with the fifth coronavirus wave fuelled by the Omicron variant, the state must take timely...
Updated 16 Jan, 2022

Grim picture

There is much the govt can do to create an environment free of repression and coercion so that democracy is strengthened.
16 Jan, 2022

Larkana jail unrest

THAT Larkana Central Prison authorities had to resort to the excuse of “cleaning the jail” to shift 13 dangerous...
‘Mini-budget’ comes into force
Updated 15 Jan, 2022

‘Mini-budget’ comes into force

MANY in the PTI government must have swallowed their pride to get the two controversial bills — one withdrawing ...
15 Jan, 2022

CNG relief

THE Peshawar High Court has granted partial relief to CNG stations against a ban on their operations by the district...
15 Jan, 2022

Street crime in Karachi

WEDNESDAY once again brought home the dangers that lurk on the streets of Karachi. Armed men waylaid a car in which ...