The CIA has reached out to friends of recently slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi, warning them of being possible targets of the Saudi government.
According to recent reports, the CIA as well as several other foreign intelligence services are warning associates and colleagues of Khashoggi that their efforts to continue the pro-democracy work of the murdered Saudi journalist has made them and their families the targets of “potential retaliation” from Saudi Arabia.
International media outlets have reported that at least three individuals have been contacted by various agencies with this ominous warning. So called “democracy advocates” Iyad el-Baghdadi in Oslo, Norway, Omar Abdulaziz of Montreal, Canada, and a third journalist based in the United States (who asked not to be named) were all working closely with Khashoggi on politically sensitive media and human rights projects at the time of his killing. The work of all three men involves heavy criticism of the various regimes in the Middle East, especially that of the al-Saud family.
Analyzing the bits of information media has been able to reveal indicates just what type of “threats” these journalists are facing.
El-Baghdadi, for instance, told reporters that Norwegian security services took him to a secure location two weeks ago and told him of the possible danger. Agents allegedly spent three hours with the journalist explaining to him the risks of various activities and urged him strongly not to travel. All of these tips were either directly received from or, at the very least, produced in tandem with the CIA. Similar encounters took place with the other two men in question.
What this boils down to is this: According to U.S. intelligence assessments, Saudi Arabia is likely planning an international operation to knock off journalists involved in unfavorable reporting.
It is worth noting that if any such activities do take place, it will be extremely difficult for the U.S. to keep business as usual with its Saudi allies. The Khashoggi incident alone caused major blowback for the Trump administration. Any more killings, let alone a global assassination conspiracy, would leave the U.S. hard-pressed to respond.