Four Saudi Arabian nationals who participated in the horrifically brutal 2018 assassination of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi were taught how to kill by an American security company in 2017, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The paper’s findings highlight the insanity underlying the troubling and delicate alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the most preeminent state sponsors of terrorism on the planet.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s investigation into the slaying, Khashoggi was abducted and dismembered alive under the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom former President Donald Trump refused to hold accountable for the gruesome murder.
What the Times uncovered is as chilling as it is maddening:
The instruction occurred as the secret unit responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s killing was beginning an extensive campaign of kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, to crush dissent inside the kingdom.
The training was provided by the Arkansas-based security company Tier 1 Group, which is owned by the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. The company says the training — including ‘safe marksmanship’ and ‘countering an attack’ — was defensive in nature and devised to better protect Saudi leaders. One person familiar with the training said it also included work in surveillance and close-quarters battle.
There is no evidence that the American officials who approved the training or Tier 1 Group executives knew that the Saudis were involved in the crackdown inside Saudi Arabia. But the fact that the government approved high-level military training for operatives who went on to carry out the grisly killing of a journalist shows how intensely intertwined the United States has become with an autocratic nation even as its agents committed horrific human rights abuses.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.