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Behind Journalist's Death Investigation: A Closer Look at Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

10-17-2018
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Watch as CBN News Senior International Reporter George Thomas gives some background information on the Saudi Crown Prince.

More than a year after becoming Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed Bin Salman is facing a political firestorm that could potentially damage his image and upend his political aspirations.

In the wake of Jamal Khashoggi's apparent murder by suspects attached to the Saudi crown prince's security detail, Bin Salman is under pressure to come clean about what, if any, potential involvement he had in connection with the journalist's death.

"Mohammed bin Salman is an extraordinarily powerful individual who wields full power in Saudi Arabia and something like this, going after a U.S. resident, a journalist for the Washington Post in a Saudi diplomatic mission abroad would require his personal authorization, in my estimation, because this is something that individuals would not carry out on their own volition," John Brennan, former CIA director, told NBC News.

So who is Mohammed Bin Salman? Often referred to as MBS, the 33-year-old is widely seen as the heir to his father, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz al Saud.

In June 2017, Bin Salman was appointed Saudi Arabia's crown prince, following his father's surprising decision to make him the heir apparent to the throne.

Unlike many other high-ranking members of the royal family, Bin Salman did not attend university in the West, instead went to private schools in Riyadh and eventually got his law degree from one of Saudi Arabia's leading universities.

Since becoming crown prince, MBS has pushed to modernize the desert kingdom. He has ushered in a host of economic and social reforms. He's allowed women to drive for the first time. Women can also open their own businesses.

Cinemas, banned 35 years ago, are now allowed to operate. The government recently announced it will begin issuing tourist visas. And those famous morality police that used to roam the streets of the country arresting people for un-Islamic behavior, are off the streets.

Experts say these changes have come with a more authoritarian rule. For example, he's clamped down on critics, arresting dozens of prominent business leaders, government officials, human rights activists and even members of the royal family. The number of executions in the kingdom has steeply increased. The crackdown is seen by many intelligence experts as a way for the young prince to consolidate his power.

In the wake of allegations that Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, and that the order to assassinate the journalist may have come from the crown prince, the outcry against Bin Salman grows by the day.

"I think the Saudis killed him," Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana told reporters Wednesday. "I think whether King Salman or Prince Mohammed knew about it or not is really irrelevant. They're captains of the ship."

Kennedy added the White House and Congress need to jointly "condemn the conduct in the strongest possible terms."

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