President Biden will not directly sanction Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, for his alleged role in the 2018 gruesome murder and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The decision came after weeks of debate in which his national security team warned him that there was no way to bar the heir to the Saudi crown from entering the United States, or weigh criminal charges against him, without severing the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies, senior administration officials told The New York Times.
According to the report, Biden was being pressured to impose travel sanctions against the Crown Prince just as former President Donald Trump did to those involved in the assassination plot.
The Biden Administration applied visa sanctions Friday to more than 76 Saudis who “are believed to have been involved in threats to dissidents abroad,” State Department Secretary Blinken said in a statement. Some of those sanctioned are involved in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul.
The official indicated that, with the measure, the United States has “made it clear that Saudi Arabia’s extraterritorial threats and attacks against activists, dissidents and journalists have to stop. They are not going to be tolerated by the United States.”
In addition, the Treasury Department revealed that it sanctioned the former Deputy Director General of Saudi Presidential Intelligence, Ahmad Hassan Mohamed al Asiri. The official is described as the ringleader of the operation that killed the journalist, as well as the security corps Rapid Intervention Force, in charge of Bin Salman’s personal protection.