CNN reported Monday afternoon that the Saudi government is preparing a report that will say Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and that his death was as a result of an unapproved interrogation gone wrong. By Friday night, the Saudi’s admitted Khashoggi was killed in its embassy in Turkey. But said it was a fist fight gone wrong. In statements posted on Twitter, it was also revealed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would oversee the investigation.
The Washington Post reported five top officials were fired and 18 Saudis had been arrested.
Earlier this week Pres. Donald Trump said he’d spoken to King Salman, who “firmly denies” any involvement, that “it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”
Trump’s statement was the first apparent official confirmation that Khashoggi, who vanished Oct. 2 after going into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was in fact dead. He’s also since said he’s supportive of bin Salman and vice-versa.
Trump told the AP there’s a rush to judgment as he defended the Saudis.
The AP quoted Trump as saying: “I think we have to find out what happened first. Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”
Sec. Mike Pompeo met with bin Salman Wednesday and said he anticipates a full and transparent investigation and Saudi Arabia’s support of the Turkish authorities’ investigation.
Khashoggi, who was of late a U.S. resident, is reported to have been murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. State-run Turkish TV aired video and images it says shows a Saudi “assassination team” arriving in Istanbul the day Khashoggi vanished.
The U.S. resident since 2017 and columnist for The Washington Post was reported to have visited the Saudi consulate Oct. 2 for documents he needed to marry accompanied by his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. It was reported that Cengiz said Khashoggi went in and never came out. She asked the Turkish government to question “the Saudi authorities where is your citizen Mr Jamal…”
Khashoggi, who self-exiled from Saudi Arabia and was living in Washington D.C., traveled to Turkey in September.
It was reported friends thought he was perhaps detained and removed to Saudi Arabia. He has been critical of the Saudi kingdom’s suppression of the press.
The BBC reported a Turkish official said “initial investigations indicated he was murdered” in the consulate. Saudi Arabia initially claimed it was searching for Khashoggi and denied accusations he was killed.
But the Middle East Eye reported Saturday that a senior Turkish police official said Khashoggi was “brutally tortured, killed and cut into pieces” inside the consulate after visiting the building on 2 October,” adding that “Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country.”
In an initial statement, Pompeo said Monday the State Department has seen “conflicting reports on the safety and whereabouts” of Khashoggi adding that the U.S. is concerned and has spoken with “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through diplomatic channels about this matter” and Pompeo called on the Saudis to “support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”
A week after his disappearance, The Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence intercepted correspondence between Saudi officials where a scheme to capture Khashoggi was planned. The Saudi’s were “laying in wait …” and reportedly planned to “arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the U.S. warned Khashoggi that he was a target,” the Post reported.
State-run TRT aired video that it reported shows CCTV video footage of a Saudi “assassination squad” arriving via private jet in Istanbul the same day Khashoggi went missing.
TRT reported the video and images show a Saudi team arrive the day Khashoggi vanished on two private flights into Istanbul, travel to the consulate and hours later, leave on the same flights.
Two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen, on Tuesday The New York Times reported that Turkish police have five suspects, several, the paper said, linked to bin Salman, the government and his security force. The Times reported the government official seen as a suspect in the alleged murder is a high ranking official who could only have been directed by an even higher authority.
The Irish Times reported last week thata Turkish official then identified a number of the men said to be Saudi officials and agents including one man identified as “an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body,” the official told The Irish Times.
Middle East Eye reported there’s audio of Khashoggi being murdered and dismembered.
A report Wednesday Oct. 17 said Turkish police were not going to share the audio and images they have with the U.S.
The Saudi Kingdom says a fight broke out and Khashoggi died as a result of a choke hold and that his interrogators tried to cover it up.
Khashoggi’s children called for a full investigation in a statement posted to a Twitter account earlier this week. Since it was announced bin Salman would oversee the investigation, and admitted Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents, there’s been no update on the Twitter account that posted this: “The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death.”
Here’s what you need to know about their father, Jamal Khashoggi:
1. Khashoggi Has Been a Journalist Since the ‘80s & Covered the War in Afghanistan & the First Gulf War. A Saudi, he Knew & Interviewed Osama bin Laden
Khashoggi is a decades-long journalist, columnist and author who began his career in the 1980s as a reporter for the English language Saudi Gazette. He was among the first reporters to cover the Afghan war.
CNN reported Khashoggi, “knew bin Laden when he was living in Jeddah and the first journalist from a major Arab media organization to cover mujahideens’ efforts against Soviets when bin Laden invited him to Afghanistan in 1987 after the battle of Jaji.” Khashoggi was out of contact with bin Laden years before the 9/11 attacks, it was reported.
Khashoggi, who also covered the first Gulf war, has worked for myriad Arabic and English-language newspapers. He was editor of Al-Watan but was fired in 2003 for columns that questioned the authority of clerics to support holy wars, it’s reported. He worked as a press aide for Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal when he was ambassador to the U.S.
Al Watan has reported on the “disappearance of Turkish writer” Khashoggi. It’s not clear why he’s referred to as Turkish in the story on Al Watan’s website. It is an Arabic-language newspaper. The paper reported that an “official source at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul denied Sunday that Turkish writer Jamal Khashoggi had been killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.”
“The Saudi consulate in Istanbul opened its doors on Saturday to reporters from Reuters, where they toured the consulate and photographed their tour. The Saudi consul told Reuters that his country was helping to search for Khashoggi and denied his abduction,” Al Watan reported.
2. Khashoggi Was a Sometimes US Resident. He Earned a Degree in Business From Indiana State University in 1982
According to Al Jazeera, Khashoggi graduated in 1982 from the Indiana State University with a degree in business administration. Presumably he lived in the Terra Haute area while studying at the university. Born in
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia and came to the U.S. in early 2017. He took up residence in the U.S. capital.
Editors at The Washington Post worried out loud about Khashoggi.
Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said Khashoggi “has been writing for Global Opinions for a year.”
“Jamal was — or, as we hope, is — a committed, courageous journalist. He writes out of a sense of love for his country and deep faith in human dignity and freedom.”
Journalist Christiane Amanpour called the Post’s decision to keep the space for Khashoggi’s column blank “powerful.”
3. Khashoggi Has Been Writing for the Washington Post Since Early 2017 After His Self-Imposed Exile From Saudi Arabia
The Washington Post said it would be a “monstrous and unfathomable act” if he had been killed.
“Turkey has concluded that Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent journalist from Saudi Arabia and a contributor to our Global Opinions section, was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this week by a Saudi team sent ‘specifically for the murder,’ sources say.”
“If the reports of Jamal’s murder are true, it is a monstrous and unfathomable act,” Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor for The Post, said in a statement.
All of his columns can be found here.
He wrote regular columns for The Washington Post and in one from a year ago, lamented he did not do more to advocate for other journalists and dissenters that were imprisoned by the Saudi government.
The headline reads that “Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable.”
“…I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom …”
4. A ‘Light’ Detractor of the Kingdom, Khashoggi Supported Saudi Reforms, But Press Crackdowns Forced Him Into Exile
It’s reported Khashoggi encouraged Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s measures to, for example, improve the lives of women by providing freedoms previously prohibited. Like driving. Khashoggi wrote that he hoped to see further reformation and not just rhetorically but in reality.
But a crackdown on dissent in Saudi Arabia countered reforms. And, following remarks he made in 2016 about the Trump administration and Riyadh including his criticism of Trump, it was reported Saudi authorities shut him down: he was not permitted to write or even tweet.
He left for the U.S. where he was provided temporary asylum. His wife in Saudi Arabia divorced him, it’s reported. He is the father of two sons.
Khashoggi’s reported fiancee Cengiz tweeted that she cannot believe he’s been killed.
“Jamal did not kill and cannot believe that he has been killed…”
5. Where is Khashoggi? Is He Alive? Turkish Police Believe He’s Been Murdered
In a Middle East Eye report, it’s said Khashoggi had traveled to Turkey and planned to marry. He went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul the last week of September to get documentation that his Saudi wife had divorced him so he could marry again. He was told to come back. He and his fiancée, a Turkish citizen, returned to the consulate this week. She waited in a lobby for him for hours. He never came out.
Turkish officials are investigating, according to Middle East Eye:
Yasin Aktay, a former MP for Turkey’s ruling AK (Justice and Development) party and the man Khashoggi told his fiancee to call if he did not emerge from the consulate, said Turkish authorities had “concrete information” regarding the matter.
Speaking to CNN Turk on Sunday, Aktay, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said: “Khashoggi discussed to go there or not with his fiancee beforehand.
“Our security officials are investigating the issue in every detail. We have some concrete information, it won’t be an unresolved crime.
“We could determine his entrance but not any exit. That’s confirmed. We asked them [the Saudis], they say ‘he left,’ but there is no such thing on the camera footage.
“That’s underestimating Turkey. They are wrong if they think Turkey is as it was in the 90s. The consulate should make a clear statement.”
Aktay said he believed Khashoggi had been killed in the consulate and that Turkish authorities believed a group of 15 Saudi nationals were “most certainly involved” in the matter.
Police said about 15 Saudis, including officials, came to Istanbul on two private flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as the journalist. They left again the same day, according to MEE’s sources.
Their diplomatic bags could not be opened, a security source told MEE, but Turkish intelligence was sure that Khashoggi’s remains were not in them.
An unnamed official from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul dismissed the claim on Sunday, describing the allegations to the Saudi Press Agency as “baseless.”
Prisoners for Freedom of Conscience has tweeted a number of reports, at least one indicating Khashoggi’s body had been found. It also has shared statement from Amnesty International and other groups decrying Saudi Arabia for its alleged assassination of Khashoggi, if in fact he has been killed.
The group also alleges that Khashoggi’s wife, who worked for the Saudi government when he husband fled to the U.S., was forced by Saudi authorities “to divorce him after being stopped at the airport while traveling. They told her literally that “she was forbidden to travel and that if she did not divorce, they might arrest her.”
Cengiz has put her faith in the Turkish authorities.
“Four days after my fiancé disappeared and I remain @JKhashoggi confident that my dear government will help me to know his fate and bring joy to my heart. Your prayers for me, I need it because I’m in a very #أين_جمال_خاشقجي #اختطاف_جمال_خاشقجي #جمال_الخاشقجي difficult Time.”
Khashoggi’s last tweet, a re-tweet, was about a Wall Street Journal story.
“Saudi sovereign wealth fund says WSJ report on shelving SoftBank’s $200 billion solar project is inaccurate …”