The documents, filed as part of a Canadian civil lawsuit earlier this year, are labeled “Top Secret” and signed by a Saudi minister who relayed the orders of the crown prince, the young de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
“According to the instruction of His Highness the Crown Prince,” the minister wrote according to a translation, “immediately approve the completion of the necessary procedures for this.”
The filing lays out how ownership of Sky Prime Aviation was ordered to be transferred into the country’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund in late 2017. The company’s planes were later used in the October 2018 killing of Khashoggi.
“He would have been tracking [the company] and would’ve been aware of how it was used,” Dan Hoffman, the former director of the CIA’s Middle East Division, said of the powerful crown prince. “And it’s just more potential evidence that he was in the know on this. Which has always been the contention. This is just more evidence of that.”
Faisal Gill, a lawyer for Khashoggi’s former fiancée and a nonprofit organization that have filed a federal lawsuit against MBS and two dozen co-defendants, said his client was “pleasantly surprised” that evidence of bin Salman’s control over Sky Prime Aviation has come to light.
“Any evidence that basically ties MBS and others, especially in a direct line way, which we believe this does, is extremely important,” said Gill.
“[MBS] wanted to use a company that he controls, in a fund that he absolutely controls in hopes that it would not get out,” Gill added. “That to me is not only a direct line to him killing Jamal but also a direct line of him trying to cover it up using an aviation company that he absolutely has full control of.”
According to the UN report, after Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, the murderers quickly made their escape and headed for the planes. One jet, with the tail number HZ-SK1, had just landed that evening. An hour and fifteen minutes after landing it was back in the air with six members of the Saudi team. Four and a half hours later, the second plane, tail number HZ-SK2, took off from Ataturk Airport with seven more men onboard, the UN report said.
The first jet flew through Cairo, the second through Dubai on their way back to Riyadh. The last two members of the hit team flew commercial from Istanbul to Riyadh.
Sky Prime Aviation had been run by Aljabri’s son-in-law, Salem Almuzaini. According to an amended complaint filed this month by Aljabri against MBS in Washington DC, Almuzaini was kidnapped in Dubai in September 2017 and forcibly rendered back to Saudi Arabia.
The documents ordering the transfer of Sky Prime Aviation in December 2017 include the Saudi Kingdom’s palm tree seal with crossed swords and the words “TOP SECRET NOT FOR CIRCULATION AND VERY URGENT,” according to the translation provided to the court. Another document showing the transfer of shares is signed by Almuzaini, whose current whereabouts are unknown.
Sky Prime Aviation, three of its Sky affiliates and 16 other companies were ordered transferred to the fund’s control by Alsheikh.
It was so important to the Crown Prince that the fund take over the companies, Alsheikh wrote, that “His Highness is to be kept abreast of what’s being done.”