Saudi government's allegations that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi died in a physical abuse in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul prompted skepticism and opposed earlier banknotes from Saudi and Turkish officials. The Saudi foundations, as all but released the faithful, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, increased pressure on the Trump administration to conduct an independent investigation of Khashoggi's death. CIA officials have listened to an audio recording as Turkish officials say that the journalist was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate, according to people familiar with the matter. If verified, the recording would make it difficult for the White House to accept the Saudi version that Khashoggi's death was indeed an accident. A CIA spokeswoman refused to comment. In a statement issued early Saturday morning in Riyadh, Saudi Arabian capital, Saudi claims that a number of unnamed "suspects" had traveled to the consulate to meet Khashoggi, "as there were indications of the possibility of returning" to Saudi Arabia. The journalist, a frequent critic of the Saudi government's policy, had lived in self-imposed exile in Virginia. "The discussions that took place … did not go as required and developed in a negative way" continued the statement, leading to a "battle and battle" and a "brawl" that led to Khashoggi's death. The unnamed suspects tried to "hide and cover what happened," said the Saudi government without elaborating. Current and former US intelligence officials, foreign policy experts and legislators were quick to accuse the Saudi government…
Saudi government’s allegations that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi died in a physical abuse in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul prompted skepticism and opposed earlier banknotes from Saudi and Turkish officials.
The Saudi foundations, as all but released the faithful, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, increased pressure on the Trump administration to conduct an independent investigation of Khashoggi’s death.
CIA officials have listened to an audio recording as Turkish officials say that the journalist was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate, according to people familiar with the matter. If verified, the recording would make it difficult for the White House to accept the Saudi version that Khashoggi’s death was indeed an accident. A CIA spokeswoman refused to comment.
In a statement issued early Saturday morning in Riyadh, Saudi Arabian capital, Saudi claims that a number of unnamed “suspects” had traveled to the consulate to meet Khashoggi, “as there were indications of the possibility of returning” to Saudi Arabia. The journalist, a frequent critic of the Saudi government’s policy, had lived in self-imposed exile in Virginia.
“The discussions that took place … did not go as required and developed in a negative way” continued the statement, leading to a “battle and battle” and a “brawl” that led to Khashoggi’s death. The unnamed suspects tried to “hide and cover what happened,” said the Saudi government without elaborating.
Current and former US intelligence officials, foreign policy experts and legislators were quick to accuse the Saudi government of a whitewash. [1
9659007] “They buy time. And they buy covers,” later Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Said. “They actually try to shift the debt to a group of guilds and limit the investigation to the Saudi government.”
Khashoggi had went to the Saudi consulate on October 2 to get the documents he needed to marry his fiancee, a Turkish citizen. It has not been found that he would meet Saudi to return to his country of origin.
The Saudi government had previously said that Khashoggi left the consulate that day and that officials did not know where he was. Surveillance camera film soon appeared by Khashoggi who entered the building, but there was no picture of him to leave.
The White House did not immediately accept the Saudi findings, which constituted the first official confirmation that Khashoggi is dead.
President Trump has privately expressed skepticism that the operation could have been done without Mohammed’s knowledge and the president has been told by a number of advisors that the Saudi people would try to create a cover story that avoids blaming the crown prince, said Trump’s advisor. 19659012] But Trump is also careful to overreact to Khashoggi’s death, whose purpose is to avoid worsening an international crisis and breaking US-Saudi relations.
US officials knew what the Saudis planned to say hours before they released their statement, said a Trump advisor.
“Trumps slope is not destroying the relationship,” said the adviser.
But the counselor said that officials like Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) has warned Trump and his counselor that if they do not respond, Saudi people will see it as weakness.
“If they respected you, they would not do it and believe they could get away with it,” said the adviser and reflected a conversation with the president.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders issued a cautious statement.
“The United States acknowledges the announcement by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that its investigation of Jamal Khashoggi desert is progressing and that it has taken action against the suspects it has so far identified,” said her statement.
The Saudi government announced that it had detained 18 unnamed individuals and fired two top officers. I suspected to be involved in the operation.
“We will continue to closely follow the international investigations in this tragic event and advocate for justice that is current, transparent and in accordance with all appropriate processes. We are sorry to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death and we offer our deepest compassion to his family, fiancé and friends, says Sanders.
The Saudi government said it would take another month to complete a complete investigation, which would be monitored by Mohammed. That decision also drew intense skepticism, as the Crown Prince has linked to the operation that led to the death of Khashoggi, including through US intelligence reports.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the Pentecostal of the House Intelligence Committee, said the announcement that Khashoggi was killed while fading over a team of more than one Dozens sent from Saudi Arabia are not credible. If Khashoggi fought inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he fought for his life with people sent to capture or kill him.
Later Foreign Affairs Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) Said the Saudi version of the events to change “with every passing day, so we should not assume that their latest history holds water.”
The official Saudi account explained not what happened to Khashoggi’s body and was not supported by any evidence.
“This is the worst cover I’ve ever seen,” said Bruce Riedel, a Saudi expert who served for more than 30 years in the CIA. “Where is the body? Why did it take 17 minutes to bring this account? “
Khashoggi had recently told friends that Saudi officials near the Crown Prince had tried to draw him back to the Kingdom, but he said he believed that they would never guarantee his security.
US intelligence had also intercepted messages from Saudi officials such as discussed plans to attract Khasghoggi, an initiative that was personally ruled by Mohammed, a frequent topic for Khashoggi’s journalistic criticism, according to people who have seen the inquiry reports.
One of the two top officials as the Saudis had been removed from his posts, Saud Al-Qahtani, a media adviser to the Crown Prince, had personally tried to convince Khashoggi to return and assure him that he would be safe and even keep the prospect of a job working for Mohammed, according to the journalist’s friends.
“He said : “Do you joking? I do not trust them a bit,” says Khaled Saffuri, an Arabic American political activist, told a conversation he had with Khashoggi, the day Khashoggi received a phone call from Qahtani in May.
It was not clear if any of the Saudis that Turkish officials claim participated in the operation in Istanbul were among those that the Saudi authorities have detained.
Washington Post has reviewed passport information and 15-man men as Turkish officials say was part of the team. Some of them have links to Mohammed, the daily ruler of the Saudi empire.
Five members of the team have traveled to the United States in recent years on trips overlapped with Mohammed’s visit, three more than previously known, travel documents and photographs show.
Proximity to their flight to Mohammed’s movements suggests that men are members of his security band, experts said that potentially complicates the government’s ability to claim that killing was performed without Muhammad’s consent.
“They are security officers, almost safe,” said Riedel. “From what I have seen the pictures of them with the prince, they are security and bodyguards.”
The post received images of the passport on seven of the 15 saudis on Tuesday and used that information to verify it, Khalid Aedh Alotaibi, arrived in Washington in March three days before the crown prince.
The post on Friday received passport information for the remaining eight Saudis identified by Turkish officials and found that three others had also traveled to the United States on trips that coincided.
Mustafa Mohammed M. Almadani, 57, ran into New York three days after the start of Mohammed’s nationwide tour, just before the Crown Prince passed away in New York.
A year earlier, a similar scenario appeared. In February 2017, Alotaibi and Fahad Shabib arrived Albalawi, another alleged member of the team, in Washington the same day. Three weeks later, Mohammed met Trump at the White House. Both Shabib and Albalawi left the US in May.
In 2015, Alotaibi and a fourth Saudi Arabia arrived from the alleged team Thaar Ghaleb T. Alharbi before a summit in Camp David where then Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Mohammed, then Deputy Crown Prince.
The New York Times reported this week that images show a fifth man, Maher Abdulaziz M. Mutreb, with Mohammed during the past year to France, Spain and the United States. Mutreb’s Login and Exit Register does not show any arrival or departure in the United States during Mohammed’s visit to the United States.
Riedel said that the absence of a Mutreb Reporting Report could mean that he used a second passport. “Many security services provide multiple passports to their officers,” he said.
The passport shows that Mutreb visited the United States in July 2016, coinciding with a visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will accept Saudi Arabia’s handling of the investigation, predicted analysts, given the seniority of Saudi officials arrested.
“Erdogan will accept this,” said Soner Cagaptay, a Turkish researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Politics. “Erdogan is smart, he knows that Trump will not break the Saudis over this. He knows the borders that the United States can drive against the Saudis. He gets enough face-saving measures so he’s not thrown one but two big fishes under the bus.”
Joby Warrick, Aaron Davis, Souad Mekhennet, John Hudson, Josh Dawsey, Karoun Demirjian, Andrew Ba Tran and Julie Tate contributed to this report.