Iran president: Saudi consulate murder unthinkable ‘without US backing’

As Tehran joins international outcry over death of Khashoggi, Rouhani says no government would dare execute a political enemy without American support

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York City, on September 26, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York City, on September 26, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AFP) — Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s “heinous murder” would have been unthinkable “without US backing,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday.

“I don’t think that any country would dare do such a thing without US backing,” Rouhani said in remarks to cabinet broadcast on state television.

Rouhani said that before Khashoggi’s murder “it would have been unthinkable that in this day and age we would witness such an organized felony.

“It is extremely significant that an institution planned such a heinous murder.

In this photo taken on December 15, 2014, Jamal Khashoggi attends a press conference in the Bahraini capital Manama. (AFP/Mohammed Al-Shaikh)

“The tribal group that is ruling that nation (Saudi Arabia) has a security margin. That security margin is that it relies on US backing. It is this superpower that is backing them.”

Khashoggi, a government critic who was living in self-imposed exile in the United States, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 as he organized the paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancee.

The case has triggered an international outcry against Saudi Arabia. US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ridiculed Riyadh’s response as “one of the worst cover-ups” in history.

Iran had been silent about the Khashoggi case until Monday when its judiciary chief slammed Saudi Arabia over his death.

“This heinous murder further revealed the nature of Saudis, their kingdom and that young man who is seeking fame and murdering innocent people,” Sadegh Amoli Larijani was quoted as saying by the judiciary’s news agency Mizan Online, apparently referring to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

This image taken from CCTV video purportedly shows Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018.(CCTV/TRT World via AP)

‘Child-killing regime’

Iran has closely followed the backlash its regional rival Saudi Arabia has faced over the Khashoggi murder.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and three of its officers, including Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani, as terrorist sponsors.

“The House of Saud is seeking to divert international and regional public opinion away from the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Brigadier General Esmail Kowsari of the Guards said in reaction to decision, quoted by Mehr news agency.

In this May 20, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“Saudi Arabia is stuck in a quagmire they can’t get out of,” Kowsari said, adding that the designation was an attempt to utilize the tactic of attack being the best form of defense.

“The murder of this journalist is one of the thousands of villainies committed by this child-killing regime, but they want to revolve the world’s attention away from themselves onto Iran,” said Kowsari.

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