- The Saudi hit squad believed to have killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi reportedly asked for a bonus as they had been so busy torturing and kidnapping state dissidents.
- The “Saudi Rapid Intervention Group” was set up in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to silence critics of the regime, intelligence officials told The New York Times.
- By June 2018 the group was so busy that they reportedly asked a top royal advisor if the crown prince could give the team bonuses, according to The Times.
- Saudi Arabia has consistently maintained that Crown Prince Mohammed had no involvement in the assassination on October 2, 2018, and has brought charges against 11 men.
The elite Saudi hit squad believed to be involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi reportedly asked the country’s Crown Prince for a bonus because they had tortured and kidnapped so many people.
The squad, reportedly dubbed the “Saudi Rapid Intervention Group” by US intelligence, was reportedly set up in 2017 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to silence dissenters.
But by June 2018 the team had been so busy that its leader asked the crown prince whether he would give the team bonuses for Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, The New York Times reported US intelligence officials as saying.
The hit squad’s day-to-day duties included the kidnap, detention, and torture of critical Saudi clerics, intellectuals, and activists, the officials said.
Some of the operations involved forcibly repatriating Saudis from other Arab countries and torturing prisoners inside royal palaces, the officials said.
The Times’ report did not say whether Crown Prince Mohammed decided to bestow the hit squad with a bonus.
- Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS
Saudi Arabia has long denied the involvement of the crown prince in Khashoggi’s assassination, saying the decision to kill him was made in the moment by the hit squad.
Khashoggi died at the hands of Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2. A transcript of an audio recording of his death is said to describe him gasping for air and saying “I can’t breathe.”
Eleven unidentified Saudis now face criminal charges for the murder, and five are facing the death penalty.
US intelligence services reportedly intercepted communications from September 2017 in which the Crown Prince said he would use “a bullet” against Khashoggi.
Several senior US senators said in December they had “high level of confidence” the Crown Prince was “complicit” in the brutal killing of Khashoggi.