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Saudi Officials Discussed Assassinating 'Iranian Enemies' - NYT

Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman waits for a meeting with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the Pentagon. March 2018

In a front-page article November 12, The New York Times reports that last year Saudi officials discussed ways to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom.

The report says that officials close to Crown Price Mohammad bin Salman discussed the possibility of using private companies to eliminate “Iranian enemies”.

This would indicate that long before Jamal Khashoggi’s killing in Turkey, Saudis were contemplating using assassinations as a way of dealing with opponents. After Khashoggi’s death, Riyadh ascribed the killing to rogue elements.

The New York Times however says that a top Saudi general, who was fired as the person responsible for the plot, was actually involved in the discussions of killing enemies in April 2017.

The officer named in the report is Maj. General Ahmed al-Assiri and he allegedly participated in a meeting with businessmen who discussed using private contractors to inflict harm on Iran and its economy and assassinate people, including IRGC Qods force commander Qassem Soleimani.

Iranian officials have often accused “enemies” of being behind civil unrest, terror acts and economic sabotage. The term is used in reference to the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Saudis in turn accuse Iran of supporting Houthis in Yemen and fomenting unrest among Shiites in the region, as well as wide-ranging involvement in the Syrian civil war and in Iraqi affairs.