Britain Knew of Khashoggi Plot, Begged Saudis Not to Act

Britain was told of plot three weeks before disappearance

British media are reporting that the GCHQ, the British version of the NSA, had intercepts giving them three weeks of advanced notice before the death of Jamal Khashoggi that a plot was in the offing.

At the time, the plot was believed to be a kidnapping plot to force Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia. This is in keeping with some of the Saudi preliminary reports, which suggest the “kill team” told Khashoggi this is what was going to happen, before ultimately killing him.

The intercepts suggested the Saudis were concerned about some forthcoming Khashoggi reports on the war in Yemen, and that was what precipitated the plot. Britain apparently “begged” the Saudis not to follow through, but to no avail.

Britain’s intercepts also apparently attributed the plot to a member of the “royal circle” of the Saudis, though they concede they don’t know for sure if this is the crown prince, as would generally be assumed.

Legally, it’s unclear if Britain was obliged to tell Khashoggi all of this. It will raise concerns again about the US, who did have a legal obligation to warn Khashoggi, a permanent resident, but chose not to do so.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of