US media reports revealed on Wednesday that Maher Mutreb, the suspected coordinator of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination, is a diplomat and very close to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. CNN reported detailed information about the case from different sources, including three with close connections to the ongoing investigations into the journalist’s disappearance.
“Mutreb is closely connected to Bin Salman,” a Saudi source told CNN. “He was seconded to an elite protection brigade within the Royal Guard to serve as the personal security force of [the Crown Prince].”
The prime suspect in what is now generally believed to be the assassination of Khashoggi has accompanied Bin Salman on several international tours, including those to Europe and the US earlier this year. On the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul, the reports revealed, Mutreb made 19 phone calls, including four with the office of Bin Salman’s secretary. In addition, the two private jets which carried the 15-members of the alleged assassination team were hired in Mutreb’s name.
The New York Times stressed that Mutreb, who served as a diplomat in the Saudi embassy in London in 2007, is part of the Crown Prince’s inner circle.
According to the Washington Post, Mutreb’s name appeared in Wikileaks documents three years ago. In one of them, his name was mentioned in correspondences with an Italian security firm in 2011, stating that he was to get advanced security training.
Meanwhile, the ex-CIA operative and CNN security analyst Bob Baer has said that US President Donald Trump is giving the Saudis some political cover. When asked about Khashoggi, Trump told Baer, “I want to find out what happened; where is the fault? And we will probably know that by the end of the week.”
Baer also said that Trump “can’t afford to lose Mohammad Bin Salman, he can’t afford to break with Saudi Arabia. He’s desperately looking for a way out of this and as more information comes out and more details and forensics, the harder it’s going to be.”