×
Khashoggi disappearance
October 19, 2018

Turkey and Saudi Arabia are progressing with their parallel investigations into the Oct. 2 disappearance of Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Turkey says it has evidence a 15-man Saudi death squad killed and dismembered Khashoggi inside the consulate, and a Turkish official told The Associated Press on Friday that authorities are looking into the possibility that the Saudis buried Khashoggi's remains in the nearby Belgrade Forest or the city of Yalova, where consulate vehicles traveled separately on Oct. 2. CNN reports that Turkish intelligence agents searched one of the two Saudi chartered jets that carried the 15 Saudis to and from Istanbul, and it did not appear to contain anything suspicious.

There's speculation that only a Saudi ruler could order a 15-man hit squad to murder a U.S. resident inside a Saudi consulate, but the Saudis "are considering blaming a top intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi," The New York Times reported Thursday, citing three people with knowledge of the Saudi plans. "The plan to assign blame to Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, would be an extraordinary recognition of the magnitude of international backlash to hit the kingdom," and it would make it "technically plausible" that the crown prince didn't ordered the killing.

"The Saudi rulers are expected to say that General Assiri received oral authorization from Prince Mohammed to capture Mr. Khashoggi for an interrogation in Saudi Arabia, but either misunderstood his instructions or overstepped that authorization and took the dissident's life," two people told the Times. "People close to the White House have already been briefed and given General Assiri's name." Peter Weber

October 18, 2018

It "certainly looks" like missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, President Trump said Thursday, and there will be "very severe" consequences if Saudi Arabia is responsible.

Trump's assertion puts him in line with many White House senior officials — attorney Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post that many in the administration believe Khashoggi was murdered. Turkish officials have said they have proof Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering Turkey's Saudi consulate on Oct. 2, was murdered by Saudi operatives. U.S. intelligence is likewise reportedly leaning toward blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi's apparent death.

But Trump has largely avoided discussing Khashoggi's disappearance, urging the public to wait for a completed investigation. Reports suggest Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has pushed the president to avoid blaming bin Salman for Khashoggi's suspected death.

Khashoggi's disappearance was the subject of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit with bin Salman in Riyadh earlier this week. During their meeting, bin Salman apparently phoned Trump to say he had no knowledge of what happened in the Saudi consulate. Trump on Wednesday said he will wait "for some results" before making a "very strong statement" regarding who was responsible for Khashoggi's death. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 18, 2018

Saudi Arabia paid $100 million to the U.S. government on Tuesday, the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Riyadh for an apparently friendly discussion with the Saudi rulers about the disappearance and presumed murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and government critic. A State Department official confirmed the payment on Wednesday but insisted it had nothing to do with the Khashoggi disappearance, widely blamed on the Saudi government.

The money was part of Saudi Arabia's pledged contribution to a U.S. stabilization effort in Syria, the State Department said. The Saudis promised the payment in August, and "questions persisted about when and if Saudi officials would come through with the money," The Washington Post notes. "We always expected the contribution to be finalized in the fall time frame," said Brett McGurk, the State Department envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition. "The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary's visit."

Middle East experts, who suspect the Saudis are also planning to compensate Turkey for agreeing to a joint investigation of Khashoggi's disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, aren't convinced that the timing of the payment is coincidental. "In all probability, the Saudis want Trump to know that his cooperation in covering for the Khashoggi affair is important to the Saudi monarch," Joshua Landis, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, tells the Post. "Much of its financial promises to the U.S. will be contingent on this cooperation." Peter Weber

October 17, 2018

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo doesn't "want to talk about any of the facts" regarding the disappearance of Jamal Khoshoggi.

The U.S.-based Saudi journalist hasn't been seen since he entered Turkey's Saudi Arabian consulate on Oct. 2, prompting a meeting between Pompeo and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday. Before Pompeo left Riyadh on Wednesday after the meeting, a reporter asked him if the Saudis had indicated whether Khashoggi was "alive or dead."

"I don't want to talk about any of the facts," Pompeo responded, and the Saudis "didn't want to either." Instead, the Saudis just want "the opportunity to complete this investigation" into Khashoggi's disappearance, Pompeo said, adding that it is "reasonable" to let them do so.

Few details have emerged from Pompeo's meetings with bin Salman and Saudi King Salman. But Pompeo and bin Salman apparently did make a joint call to President Trump, in which bin Salman "totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate," Trump tweeted Tuesday. Turkish officials reportedly have evidence that Saudi operatives killed Khashoggi, but Trump has pushed to presume Saudi Arabia's innocence until the investigation is complete. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 16, 2018

Turkish crime scene investigators spent nine hours searching the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Monday night and Tuesday morning, gathering evidence in the disappearance of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A team of about 10 Turkish investigators left the consulate at 5 a.m., followed 90 minutes later by a Turkish prosecutor and, a little later, a Saudi team, Reuters reports. The Turkish investigators carted away soil samples, a metal door from the garden, and other forensic evidence.

Turkish officials, who say they have proof that a Saudi team murdered and dismembered Khashoggi when he visited the consulate for marriage-related paperwork on Oct. 2, acknowledged the difficulty of finding useful evidence 13 days after the alleged crime.

The Saudis agreed to let Turkey inspect the consulate only after Saudi King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Sunday. Still, "hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops, and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution," The Washington Post reports. "When the Turkish investigators entered the consulate, some wearing white protective gear, they 'smelled chemicals had been used,' according to two officials in contact with the investigators."

Also Tuesday morning, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh for meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the behest of President Trump. The Saudis, who have denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, are now planning to claim he was accidentally killed during a botched interrogation by a Saudi intelligence operative dispatched by the crown prince to question the mildly critical journalist or spirit him to Saudi Arabia, according to reports in The New York Times and CNN. Some U.S. officials fear the Turks will play along in exchange for Saudi loans. Peter Weber

October 15, 2018

After speaking with Saudi King Salman about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump wants a second opinion.

Trump announced Monday on Twitter that he will be "immediately" sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the Saudi monarch. The president also noted King Salman "denies any knowledge of what may have happened" to Khashoggi, who disappeared after going to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain a document he needed to get married. Turkey says it has evidence that Saudi agents killed Khashoggi, The Washington Post reports.

Trump has threatened to inflict "severe punishment" on Saudi Arabia if it is proven to be responsible, and on Sunday, Saudi Arabia threatened retaliation if the U.S. follows through on any sanctions, per The Associated Press.

Trump in his tweet specifically references the fact that Jamal Khashoggi is not an American citizen, going out of his way to quote Salman as saying Khashoggi was "our Saudi Arabian citizen." This is something Trump has previously pointed out several times, although he told Fox & Friends last week that the fact that Khashoggi isn't an American citizen "in this case doesn't matter" and that "I don't like it." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads