Top Saudi intelligence officials close to Crown Prince asked a small group of businessmen last year about using private companies to assassinate Iranian enemies of the kingdom including Major General Qassem Soleimani, according to the New York Times reports.

Iran Press/Middle East: Saudis inquired at a time when Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, then the deputy crown prince and defense minister, was consolidating power and directing his advisers to escalate military and intelligence operations outside the kingdom. 

According to New York Times, their discussions, more than a year before the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, indicate that top Saudi officials have considered assassinations since the beginning of Prince Mohammed’s ascent.

During the discussion, part of a series of meetings where the men tried to win Saudi funding for their plan, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri’s top aides inquired about killing Major general Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and a man considered a determined enemy of Saudi Arabia, the American daily added.

 Top Saudi officials discussed a “$2 billion plan” in 2017 to disrupt Iran economy and assassinate Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani

Saudi officials have portrayed Jamal Khashoggi’s death as a rogue killing ordered by an official who has since been fired. But that official, Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, was present for a meeting in March 2017 in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where the businessmen pitched a $2 billion plan to use private intelligence operatives to try to sabotage the Iranian economy.

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The interest in assassinations, covert operations and military campaigns like the war in Yemen — overseen by Prince Mohammed — is a change for the kingdom, which historically has avoided an adventurous foreign policy that could create instability and imperil Saudi Arabia’s comfortable position as one of the world’s largest oil suppliers, it said.

The British newspaper The Guardian published a lengthy, 3-page article On Friday that a terrorist outfit called the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK) financed by Saudi Arabia.

For most of its life in exile, the MEK was funded by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.The MEK has always denied it is financed by Saudi Arabia – but the former Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, made waves when he attended the group’s 2016 rally in Paris and called for the fall of the Iranian regime.

“The money definitely comes from Saudis,” says Ervand Abrahamian, a professor at the City University of New York and author of the definitive academic work on the group’s history, The Iranian Mojahedin. “There is no one else who could be subsidising them with this level of finance.”

On the same day, a Guardian journalist has revealed Jamal Khashoggi, killed on October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, lost his life because of disclosing Saudi Arabia's funding of an anti-Iran TV channel

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Guardian: Khashoggi killed for revealing Saudi funding of anti-Iran TV channel

I can confirm that Jamal Khashoggi was killed because of speaking to me on the phone from Istanbul in the morning on 26 September, revealing that London-based Iran International TV was funded by Mohammad Bin Salman and Saud al-Qahtani. Read this:

— Saeed Kamali Dehghan (@SaeedKD) November 9, 2018

In a report on October 2, the Guardian cited a source close to the Saudi government as saying that the anti-Iran London-based TV channel, Iran International received an estimated $250 million (£192 million) from the Saudi royal court each year.

Saudi funds UK based Television channel to wage media war on Iran: The Guardian

Earlier this summer, the station was criticized for airing extensive live coverage of a rally by the MEK terrorist group. Senior Trump administration officials, including John Bolton, are advocates of the group, which was listed as a terrorist group in the US until 2012.

The insider claimed the editorial content of the station had been influenced by its' secret investors who were hidden behind an offshore Cayman Islands company. The MEK coverage, the insider said, was one such example.

Ofcom has recently scrutinised "Iran International" for giving airtime to the spokesperson of a group that praised a terrorist attack in Iran last month.

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 Top Saudi officials discussed a “$2 billion plan” in 2017 to disrupt Iran economy and assassinate Iran