Four of the murderers of Saudi critical journalist Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the US | International

Vigil in memory of Khashoggi on the second anniversary of his assassination in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October 2020.
Vigil in memory of Khashoggi on the second anniversary of his assassination in front of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October 2020.OZAN ​​KOSE / AFP

Four Saudi nationals who participated in the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist from the Washington Post Very critical of the Riyadh authorities, they received paramilitary training in the United States the previous year thanks to a contract approved by the State Department, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The New York Times.

The investigation came precisely as the secret unit responsible for Khashoggi’s assassination was launching an extensive campaign of kidnappings, arrests and torture of disaffected Saudis on the orders of Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salmán (MBS), the ruler. de facto of the country, to crush dissent within the kingdom.

The training was conducted by a private security company, Tier 1 Group, based in Arkansas and owned by the investment fund Cerberus Capital Management. The training program was defensive in nature, according to the company, and was aimed at training the elite guard of the Desert Kingdom. “The State Department initially granted a license for the paramilitary training of the Saudi Royal Guard to Tier 1 Group starting in 2014, during the Administration [del presidente demócrata Barack] Obama ”, reports the New York Times. “The training continued for at least the first year of Donald Trump’s term.” Two other members of the corps exercised between October 2014 and January 2015.

Louis Bremer, a top executive at Cerberus later nominated by Trump to occupy a high position in the Pentagon, revealed all the information about the existence and operation of the school during the hearing in Congress that was to approve his appointment. Bremer told lawmakers that an assessment of Tier 1 Group’s practices and objectives in March 2019 “did not reveal any wrongdoing on the part of the company” and confirmed that the established curricular training was not linked to the murder of the dissident. “The training provided was not related to the subsequent atrocities” committed by the four Saudis, he stressed.

But Trump backtracked on Bremer’s nomination, and the congressmen never received his explanations about the role of Tier 1 Group, and by extension the Cerberus fund, in the paramilitary training subcontract, nor about its contractual links with him. Saudi regime. As the New York newspaper emphasizes, the episode highlights the risks of any military association with authoritarian and repressive governments.

The first year of Trump’s presidency was 2017, that is, one before the Saudi dissident Khashoggi, who had gone into exile between Turkey and the United States, disappeared inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he intended to process some papers to get married. with his fiancee, a young Turkish woman. An elite commando, close to the almighty MBS and made up of 15 people, assassinated him, dismembered him and made his remains disappear. Last February, the White House released a classified intelligence report showing that MBS approved the murder of the critical journalist. The UN rapporteur for extrajudicial cases, Agnes Callamard, reached the same conclusion. Following the report’s release, Washington imposed restrictions on the visas of 76 Saudi nationals, but has not adopted any sanctions against the heir.

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