Crown prince disparaged Khashoggi in phone call
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist days after his disappearance in a phone call with President Donald Trump’s son-in-lawJared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton, according to people familiar with the discussion.
In the call, which occurred before the kingdom publicly acknowledged killing Khashoggi, the crown prince urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the U. S.Saudi alliance and said the journalist was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group long opposed by Bolton and other senior Trump officials.
The attempt to criticize Khashoggi in private stands in contrast to the Saudi government’s later public statements decrying the journalist’s death as a “terrible mistake” and “terrible tragedy.”
“The incident that happened is very painful, for all Saudis,” Mohammed, the kingdom’s de facto leader, said during a panel discussion last week. “The incident is not justifiable.”
The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Khalid bin Salman, described Khashoggi last month as a “friend” who dedicated “a great portion of his life to serve his country.”
In a statement released to The Washington Post, Khashoggi’s family called the characterization of the columnist as a dangerous Islamist inaccurate.
“Jamal Khashoggi was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He denied such claims repeatedly over the past several years,” the family said. “Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person in any way possible. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous.”
A person familiar with the discussion said Bolton did not signal that he endorsed the crown prince’s characterization of Khashoggi during the call.