‘Crazy, Wrecking Ball’: US Senators Blast Saudi Prince Over Khashoggi

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WASHINGTON — US senators say they are more certain than ever after a private CIA briefing that the Saudi crown prince had a role in the murder of a journalist.

In a blistering attack, Senator Lindsey Gra­ham said he had “high confidence” Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, BBC reported.

The South Carolina Republican described the Sau­di royal as “a wrecking ball”, “crazy” and “dangerous”.

The Saudis have charged 11 people but deny the crown prince was involved.

Members of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Re­lations did not mince words after the briefing by CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday.

“There is not a smoking gun – there is a smoking saw,” Graham said, referring to Khashoggi’s alleged dismember­ment in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.

The senator said he could not support Saudi Ara­bia’s involvement in the war in Yemen or arms sales to the Saudi government as long as the crown prince remained in power.

Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, echoed those views.

He said the US must “send a clear and unequivo­cal message that such actions are not acceptable in the world’s stage”.

Another senator, Bob Corker, told reporters, using the crown prince’s initials: “I have zero question on my mind that the crown prince MBS ordered the killing.” The Tennessee Republican added: “If he was in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty.”

Corker suggested that US President Donald Trump had condoned the murder of a journalist by refusing to condemn the Saudi crown prince.

Fellow Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Ala­bama said: “Now the question is, how do you separate the Saudi crown prince and his group from the nation?”

The Senate is planning to vote on a proposal to end US military support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, after members of both parties advanced the resolution last week.

Senator Chris Murphy, who was not privy to Tues­day’s briefing, criticised the Trump administration.

“Not everything needs to be secret,” the Connecti­cut Democrat tweeted.

“If our government knows that Saudi leaders were involved in the murder of a US resident, why shouldn’t the public know this?”

The CIA has concluded Mohammed bin Salman “probably ordered” the killing of Khashoggi.

The spy agency has evidence he exchanged mes­sages with Saud al-Qahtani, who allegedly oversaw the Saudi reporter’s murder.

The CIA director — who has reportedly heard an audio recording of the murder — did not attend a recent congressional briefing by cabinet members, dismay­ing lawmakers.

Turkish prosecutor seeks arrests of two Saudis

Istanbul’s chief prosecutors office has filed arrest warrants for Saudi officials be­lieved to be involved in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The prosecutor’s office believes there is “strong suspicion” that Ahmed al-Asiri and Saud al-Qahtani were among the planners of the murder, which took place shortly after Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters news agency that the move reflects the view that Saudi authorities will not take formal action against the al-Asiri and al-Qahtani, both close allies of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The official added that Saudi Arabia could address international concern by extraditing all suspects in the killing to Turkey.

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