Saudi Crown Prince Launched Covert Campaign Against Dissent Before Khashoggi Murder

Kidnapping, torture career began over a year before Khashoggi's murder

Congress and other US officials continue to try to delve into the murder of reporter Jamal Khashoggi, and the presumptive ringleader of this is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Many in Congress were taken aback by the brazen murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, while the administration has suggested that it was unthinkable the prince would be involved.

Yet intelligence reports show that far from an isolated incident, the murder was part of a covert campaign of intimidation, torture, and kidnapping of dissidents who were seen as a threat to the prince’s rule, and the campaign was known to be ongoing for over a year before Khashoggi’s murder.

It wasn’t just a general Saudi campaign, either. At least a dozen of the operations that happened were involving the exact same so-called “Rapid Intervention Group” that would later become the kill team that murdered Khashoggi.

The stories are all very familiar to the attempts to try to trick Khashoggi into returning to Saudi Arabia with promises he wouldn’t be harmed, with many Saudis forcibly taken off the streets of other countries around the Middle East and being repatriated to an uncertain fate.

All of this adds context to the Khashoggi murder, showing that the crown prince was going after dissidents, no matter how seemingly minor and unimportant, in an aggressive campaign.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.