Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman says Khashoggi killing ‘happened under my watch’ in new PBS FRONTLINE documentary

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman loves fast cars and exerting absolute rule over his people, and Frontline got to him at a race to ask him tough questions. Pic credit: PBS/Frontlne
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman loves fast cars and Frontline got to him at a race to ask him tough questions. Pic credit: PBS/Frontline

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in the news again over the horrific death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Various interviews with him hit the US television market this weekend and into next week, with PBS FRONTLINE  getting the scoop first that he admitted some responsibility over the killing last October.

Khashoggi’s grisly death and dismemberment shocked the world. Airing Tuesday (October 1), new documentary The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia sees PBS FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith say as the report opens:

It is December 2018. It’s been less than three months since the murder and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. But just outside of Riyadh, Saudi leaders and some of their friends are gathered for a celebration.  Featured is a big electric-car race, intended to showcase the kinds of reforms underway here. I have managed to get into the royal box.

Since Khashoggi’s murder, there has been intense political pressure in the US for the country to condemn and distance itself from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS for short, who has been on friendly terms with both current and past administrations.

FRONTLINE’s conversation with bin Salman reveals that the Saudi leader admits some responsibility over the killing, because it happened while he was in charge.

“It happened under my watch,” the Saudi leader told Smith. “I get all the responsibility because it happened under my watch.”


The Saudi royal’s comments to Smith, who has been covering the Middle East for FRONTLINE for nearly two decades, are just one facet of new reporting featured in The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The documentary, which airs on the eve of the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, also includes never-before-seen FRONTLINE interview footage with Khashoggi that sheds new light on his transformation from a supporter of MBS to his critic.

Saudia Arabia is an absolute monarchy and regularly comes under criticism for its stance on things like homosexuality and the way women are treated in society. The House of Saud counts over 15,000 relatives and descendants and they are considered to be the wealthiest family in the world.

Tune in Tuesday to see this fascinating display of wealth and power assembled at the race outside of Riyadh, as players in the Saudi power regime are identified and given background by Smith, who has devoted many years covering the region. CBS news series 60 Minutes also has a segment devoted to Mohammad bin Salman and the Khashoggi murder this Sunday.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia premieres Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST. Tune in or stream on PBS (check local listings), on the PBS website and on the PBS Video App.

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