Saudi death squad members behind Khashoggi's killing received training in US: Report

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Several Saudis involved in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi received training from a security company in the United States, according to a new report.

Four members of the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group, a subset of the Saudi Royal Guard, were granted a contract for paramilitary training with Arkansas-based Tier 1 Group, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, the New York Times reported on Tuesday citing sources and documents. The State Department granted Tier 1 a license to provide paramilitary training to the Saudi Royal Guard in 2014 and continued training until at least 2017.

The squad members who participated in the 2018 killing of Khashoggi reportedly received training in 2017, with two of them also participating in a training session in 2014. The individuals were not identified by name.


Louis Bremer, a senior executive of Cerberus, said the individuals received training from Tier 1 Group but stressed the training was only defensive in nature.

“The training provided was unrelated to their subsequent heinous acts,” Bremer wrote in a document provided to the news outlet, adding that a 2019 internal investigation “uncovered no wrongdoing by the company and confirmed that the established curriculum training was unrelated to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”

Agents linked to the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman killed and dismembered Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, where he sought paperwork for his wedding to his Turkish fiancee. A U.S. intelligence report released on Feb. 11 concluded the operation was most likely a direct order from the crown prince himself.

Salman denied he ordered the killing but has said he "bears responsibility" for it. The Saudi government maintains Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation" gone wrong.

The assassination has been the subject of international condemnation and tension between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia conducted an internal investigation into the matter, resulting in the arrests of eight people the Saudi government claims are responsible for Khashoggi's killing. Five of these men were sentenced to death, but were later reduced to imprisonment.

Dr. Agnès Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur who authored the U.N.'s report on the killing, condemned the Saudi investigation as "the antithesis of justice" and a "mockery."

Khashoggi was a longtime friend and adviser to the Saudi royal family, who also possessed Islamist sympathies. The journalist traveled to Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War, where he befriended Mujahideen fighter Osama Bin Laden.

Upon learning of Bin Laden’s killing in 2011, he tweeted, “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah [Bin Laden's nickname]. You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”

Despite his sympathies, Khashoggi’s former colleagues deny he was an extremist.


His relationship with the Saudi royal family soured when King Salman took power in 2015, causing him to go into exile in 2017. Khashoggi relocated to the U.S. and reinvented himself as a critic of the Saudi regime.

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Tags: Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman , Journalists, Mohammed bin Salman

Original Author: Brady Knox

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Saudi death squad members behind Khashoggi's killing received training in US: Report

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