Four Saudi agents who took part in the gruesome 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an Istanbul consulate received military training on American soil the previous year, by a private security company and under a contract approved by the United States State Department, The New York Times revealed Tuesday. According to the report, the four men, members of the Saudi Royal Guard and later part of the personal protection outfit for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), were granted a license to train at the Arkansas-based Tier 1 Group starting in 2014. The training continued on and off until 2017. The company says the curriculum included “safe marksmanship” and “countering an attack” and was strictly defensive in nature, devised to better protect Saudi leaders. In 2017, MBS, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, launched a massive crackdown on critics, protesters, human rights activists, supporters of his political rivals and his own palace challengers. Though eight defendants were eventually sentenced to jail time by a Saudi court for their role in Khashoggi’s killing, and despite the new White House administration releasing an intelligence report implicating the crown prince in the affair and sanctioning Riyadh officials, MBS has largely escaped the incident unscathed.
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