Bipartisan group of senators calls for investigation into Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance

11 October, 2018, 20:15 | Author: Dominic Spencer
  • The image taken from Turkey's Daily Sabah shows 15 Saudi operatives suspected of having killed Kamal Khashoggi upon his arrival at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul

US President Donald Trump said he has spoken with Saudi Arabia "at the highest level" about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and prominent critic of his country's royal family, who was last seen entering the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. The Post, citing anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Mr Khashoggi from his home in Virginia, where he lived most recently, to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

That same day, President Trump was asked about Khashoggi's disappearance and didn't have much to say apart from "I am concerned about it".

"We're monitoring this very closely, this situation very closely, and we are working closely with [the] State Department", Mattis said.

The Post reported late Wednesday that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered that Khashoggi, a prominent critic, be lured from his home in the us and detained.

"It's a very serious situation for us and this White House", he said.

While angry members of Congress likely won't cause the administration to end decades of close security ties with Saudi Arabia, the initiation on Wednesday of possible sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act indicated the depth of concern on Capitol Hill over Khashoggi's case. "And we want do get to the bottom of it", the USA president said.

Trump said nobody knows exactly what happened and expressed hope that Khashoggi is not dead.

Later on Thursday, Trump told reporters at the White House that he saw no reason to block Saudi Arabian investments in the United States despite the Khashoggi incident, saying the Gulf nation would then just move its money into Russian Federation and China.

On October 2, Khashoggi's fiancée Hatic Cengiz waited for him outside the Consulate for 11 hours, but he never came out-and Cengiz fears that Khashoggi was either kidnapped or killed.

US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi before he vanished, according to the Post, which cited two people familiar with the information.


While the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far been reluctant to confirm the killing of Khashoggi, grisly details of the murder and the operation to assassinate the Saudi journalist are being released by senior Turkish security officials.

Khashoggi, a wealthy former government insider who had been living in the U.S.in self-imposed exile, had written a series of columns for the Post critical of Mohammed bin Salman.

What's next: As the two sides preserve the veneer of cooperation, Turkish investigators were widely expected to conduct a search at the consulate today after Saudi Arabia granted its permission.

Since 2009, the executive branch has notified Congress of proposed foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia of major defense articles and services with a potential aggregate value of almost $139 billion, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Khashoggi, 59, has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Around the time Khashoggi entered the consulate, a second private plane from Riyadh took off for Istanbul. On Wednesday, State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said that the USA had "no advance knowledge" of Khashoggi's disappearance. "We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before", Trump said.

Of the crown prince, who is often referred to as "MBS", Corker went on to say, "MBS is a person of the future".

A total of 25 to 30 professional and non-professional journalists are now believed to be detained in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the organisation also said.

The administration also relies on Saudi support for its Middle East agenda to counter Iranian influence, fight extremism and support an expected peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

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