Four of the Saudi operatives involved in the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 took part in a State Department-approved paramilitary training course in the U.S. just a year earlier, The New York Times reports. Citing documents and sources familiar with the matter, the Times reports that a security firm called Tier 1 Group provided the training to members of the Saudi Royal Guard under a contract approved by the State Department. The training is said to have involved lessons on “safe marksmanship” and “countering an attack,” as well as surveillance, according to one source cited in the report.
Louis Bremer, a senior executive at Tier 1 Group’s parent company, Cerberus, provided a statement to the Times acknowledging the training of the Saudi operatives but stressing that it “was unrelated to their subsequent heinous acts.” The training was also carried out in 2014 and 2015, with some of the same Saudi operatives taking part, but Bremer said no Saudis were involved after 2017. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and outspoken critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was never seen again after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2017 for marriage documents. It was later determined that he had been murdered and dismembered there by Saudi operatives, reportedly at the behest of the crown prince.