Journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L-R)
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L-R)

The Obama-era State Department approved training in the United States for Saudi operatives who were involved in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the New York Times reported citing documents and people familiar with the matter.

The report said on Tuesday that the State Department under the Obama administration first granted a license in 2014 for the Saudi Royal Guard to receive paramilitary training from the Arkansas-based security company Tier 1 Group, which is owned by Cerberus Capital Management.

The training continued until at least the first year of former President Donald Trump's term, the report said.

Four Saudi operatives involved in Khashoggi's death received training in 2017, the report said, adding that two of the members had also participated in training from October 2014 to January 2015.

The paramilitary training given to the Saudis involved safe marksmanship, countering an attack, surveillance, and close-quarters battle, the report said.

The report said there is no evidence that US officials who approved the training or Tier 1 Group executives knew that the Saudis receiving training were involved in the crackdown on dissidents in Saudi Arabia.

In February, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a declassified report claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved an operation to assassinate Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2018. Turkish authorities reported that a bone saw had been used to dismember the journalist's body.

The Trump administration was harshly criticized for not punishing Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi affair. Trump was also roundly excoriated after publicly admitting he did not want to put US arms sales at risk.

After the New York Times' report, the news has gone viral on social media as many people are criticising the authorities.

Here's how people are responding. Have a look.

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