By Jason Ditz
In a further blow to US-Saudi ties, reports emerged this weekend on the October murder of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi kill team. The kill team’s leader, Maher Mutreb, and other members, had apparently been trained by the US government in the past.
It’s a familiar story, heard often enough when the US aligns itself with a country with a flimsy human rights record. The trainees were part of ongoing routine training operations meant to increase the ties of rank-and-file Saudi figures with the US security state.
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During his training Mutreb, a colonel in the Saudi spy agency, apparently went so far as to try to befriend Khashoggi, likely gathering more intelligence on him, but likely also making his murder all the more uncomfortable.
While the Trump Administration has time and again shrugged off Khashoggi’s murder as not worth risks to US-Saudi ties, and business relationships, Congress doesn’t feel that way at all. This new revelation is almost certain to add to Congressional calls to further stem ties with the Saudi government, specifically so US training and equipment aren’t involved in routine atrocities such as this.