Trump demands Saudis explain missing journalist

Friday, 12 Oct, 2018

The Daily Sabah published images and security video of the so-called "assassination squad" as they entered the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi-a prominent Saudi journalist and regime critic-was last seen entering in the same day on October 2.

Turkish officials believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, which Saudis deny but have not been able to provide proof he left the consulate safely.

A bipartisan group of US senators is forcing the Trump administration to investigate the disappearance of a Saudi journalist, triggering a human rights probe that could result in sanctions against Saudi officials and entities.

The video later shows some of the men leaving a hotel near the Saudi consulate and Khashoggi entering the consulate.

Reports about the USA appointing investigator over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi are untrue, said Turkish diplomatic sources on Thursday. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. They're going to take that money and spend it in Russian Federation or China or someplace else".

The identity and the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services are now known to the Turkish officials. Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, said he believed the Saudis killed Mr Khashoggi; his colleague Lindsey Graham said there would be "hell to pay" if so. He says that stepping back from arms sales to the Saudis "a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country".

Several other U.S. lawmakers have also raised concerns, saying the United States should reevaluate its ties to Saudi Arabia in light of the journalist's case.

Signs of such a challenge began to emerge Monday night when Secretary of State Mike 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".

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales to the Kingdom over the disappearance, citing economic reasons.

The White House said Wednesday top Trump administration officials have spoken to Salman about the mysterious disappearance of Khashoggi.

"Yes, we're looking at it". He says such a move "would be hurting us". "We want to bring her to the White House", Trump told reporters.

Turkey says it will conduct a search of the Istanbul consulate, while Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said the country was "open to co-operation" and a search of the building could go ahead.

The Washington Post, the daily to which Khashoggi was a contributor, added to the mystery by reporting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered an operation to "lure" the critical journalist back home. Picture taken September 29, 2018.

Rubio said on "America's Newsroom" that if evidence of Saudi involvement is found, there will be an effort in Washington, "fundamentally alter" the U.S. -Saudi relationship. His fiancée Hatice Cengiz said she waited for him by the front entrance, and so far, there is no public evidence showing he ever walked out. "We're demanding everything. We want to see what's going on there", President Trump said on Wednesday.

The New York Times cited a Turkish official who said Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents.

Last week, the crown prince told Bloomberg News that his government was "very keen to know what happened to him", and that Mr Khashoggi had left "after a few minutes or one hour".

Graham told Al Jazeera on Thursday that he has read U.S. intelligence that points to the Saudi government's involvement in the disappearance of the Saudi writer. "I don't trust them one bit, '" said activist Khaled Saffuri, recounting a conversation he had with Khashoggi in May, moments after the journalist had received a call from Saud al-Qahtani, an adviser to the royal court.