Friend: Khashoggi's fiancé asked me to pray

Karen Attiah, a colleague of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, says that the United States needs to take a firm stance on Saudi Arabia or risk "sending a chilling message that it is okay to kill and butcher" journalists.

Posted: Oct 17, 2018 3:31 PM
Updated: Oct 17, 2018 3:49 PM

President Donald Trump has defended Saudi Arabia as accusations mount over its de facto ruler's close links to the men who apparently killed a journalist in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia has come under intense international pressure to explain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance after he visited the consulate on October 2 to obtain papers that would have allowed him to marry his Turkish fiancée.

The disappearance of Khashoggi, an insider-turned-critic of the Saudi government, has prompted international outrage and calls for punitive action against Saudi Arabia.

It has also thrown Trump's close ties with the kingdom into the spotlight as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is engaged on a tough diplomatic mission to contain the crisis.

On Tuesday sources told CNN that a group of Saudi men, whom Turkish officials believe are connected to Khashoggi's possible death, was led by a high-ranking intelligence officer, with one source saying he was close to the inner circle of the Kingdom's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Trump suggested in an interview on Tuesday that the wave of criticism the Middle Eastern kingdom has faced over Khashoggi's disappearance is premature, comparing the case to sexual assault allegations against recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"Here we go again with you know you're guilty until proven innocent," Trump told The Associated Press in an interview at the White House.

"I don't like that," he added. "We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh, and he was innocent all the way."

Later during an interview with Fox, he said that if Saudi Arabia knows what happened to Khashoggi, "that would be bad."

'Must be held to account'

Despite Trump's caution, Washington's "working assumption" is that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, a US official previously told CNN.

On Tuesday, G7 foreign ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the US, plus the high representative of the European Union, urged Saudi Arabia to conduct a "thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation."

"Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account," they added in a statement.

Pompeo will arrive in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday where he held talks with King Salman and the crown prince, who he said "strongly denied" any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

"My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials," Pompeo said Tuesday after meeting.

Turkish authorities believe 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected to Khashoggi's possible death. At least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Saudi government.

Turkish officials have told CNN that Khashoggi's body was dismembered after he was killed in the consulate.

Several US officials have told CNN that any such operation could not have happened without the crown prince's direct knowledge.

Previously, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that showed Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate. The evidence, which was described to the source by a Western intelligence agency, showed there had been an assault and a struggle inside the consulate. There is also evidence of the moment that Khashoggi was killed, the source said.

Diplomatic rift

The crisis has created a diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and the West and led to international firms pulling out of a high-profile summit in Riyadh. The CEOs of three top banks -- Standard Chartered, HSBC and Credit Suisse -- announced their withdrawal from the conference Tuesday.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde was the latest senior invitee to pull out, according to a Tuesday statement.

Prominent Republican lawmakers on Tuesday forcefully demanded answers and retaliatory action over the disappearance, with Senator Lindsey Graham threatening to "sanction the hell" out of Saudi Arabia.

President Trump has been reluctant to castigate the kingdom, a key US ally that plays a central role in his administration's Middle East policy, despite growing pressure at home and internationally.

Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have also developed personal and business relationships with the Saudis.

Kushner has developed close links with the crown prince, whose attempts to foster an image as a reformer may be fatally damaged by the crisis.

The prince's reputation has already been tarnished by the detention of Lebanon's prime minister, the war in Yemen, his arrest of large numbers of Saudi's elite, and the campaign against Qatar, as well as the imprisonment of activists.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," Trump bristled at the idea of cutting weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and in comments on Monday, he touted a denial from the Saudi King and offered up the idea that "rogue killers" may have been involved.

Trump's comments may be a sign that Washington is preparing to accept Saudi Arabia's efforts to distance its leaders from whatever fate befell Khashoggi.

Sources have told CNN that the kingdom was preparing a report to acknowledge that Khashoggi died at the consulate in Istanbul in an interrogation that went awry. The sources said the interrogation was intended to lead to his enforced return to Saudi Arabia.

One source said the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.

Passport scans point to the Crown Prince

Saudi authorities had previously maintained Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but they provided no evidence to support the claim.

However, an admission that Khashoggi died in the consulate is not likely to deter difficult questions over the whereabouts of his remains and the movements of the 15 men and their links to the crown prince.

Three sources familiar with the case told CNN that the high-ranking officer who was close to the crown prince's inner circle and led the group of men to Istanbul came from the General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia's main intelligence service. One source said the officer assembled and sent his own team to interrogate Khashoggi.

Turkish officials provided CNN with passport scans of seven men they say suspect to have been part of the Saudi team. The passport scans were taken on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance.

One of the passport scans appears to belong to Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi, listed as the head of forensic medicine at the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Another member of the group identified by Turkish official media and appearing in the alleged passport scans is Muhammad Saad al-Zahrani, who has appeared on Saudi state TV alongside the Crown Prince.

If that group is to be characterized as part of a rogue operation intended to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia alive, questions could arise about al-Tubaiqi.

If the autopsy specialist left Saudi Arabia for Istanbul before Khashoggi entered the consulate, as Turkish sources have asserted, it might be hard to square with the explanation that any killing was the result of a botched interrogation, and not premeditated.

Questions have also been raised by Turkish authorities over Saudi Arabia's lack of cooperation in investigating the disappearance.

By the time Turkish investigators gained access to the consulate Monday evening, a fresh coat of paint had been applied "everywhere" inside the building, a Turkish official told CNN Tuesday. The source said Saudi Arabia must make "a genuine contribution" to the investigation of Khashoggi's disappearance in Istanbul.

Earlier Tuesday, Erdogan suggested investigators were looking into possibility that evidence of toxic materials had been concealed.

"My hope is that we can reach conclusions that will give us a reasonable opinion as soon as possible, because the investigation is looking into many things such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over," Erdogan told reporters.

Terre Haute
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 19°
Robinson
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 19°
Indianapolis
Overcast
29° wxIcon
Hi: 32° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 16°
Rockville
Overcast
28° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 17°
Casey
Overcast
29° wxIcon
Hi: 33° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 18°
Brazil
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 19°
Marshall
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 19°
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 720114

Reported Deaths: 12882
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3042206595
DuPage45087788
Will38684563
Lake37299631
Kane31767467
Winnebago18948262
Madison14379255
McHenry14269156
St. Clair13410259
Champaign1079858
Sangamon1015799
Peoria9147133
Kankakee8636103
Rock Island8612135
McLean848954
Tazewell6835104
Macon6517132
Kendall626947
LaSalle6108134
DeKalb499047
Adams473548
Vermilion391551
Boone390733
Whiteside3743115
Williamson361083
Clinton330861
Coles329859
Ogle285037
Knox280766
Grundy277618
Effingham277021
Henry270015
Jackson268536
Marion248551
Stephenson246635
Randolph226826
Livingston224527
Macoupin223218
Morgan220936
Bureau211643
Monroe207545
Franklin204825
Lee201034
Christian189443
Jefferson187859
Woodford175827
Fayette170931
Logan170113
Iroquois169326
McDonough158241
Fulton146012
Shelby137426
Douglas135416
Jersey127224
Union118228
Montgomery115519
Crawford112213
Saline111625
Perry110223
Warren109020
Jo Daviess107617
Carroll107024
Lawrence107011
Bond104810
Pike101427
Cass96423
Hancock95612
Wayne90833
Moultrie89810
Clay84020
Greene82831
Edgar80815
Clark79820
Piatt7835
Richland78019
Ford75222
Mercer74510
Mason72120
Johnson7136
Washington7002
Jasper64411
Cumberland61416
White6148
De Witt61317
Massac5993
Wabash5708
Menard4661
Pulaski4132
Marshall4066
Hamilton3873
Brown3224
Henderson2891
Schuyler2711
Stark2683
Alexander2562
Calhoun2470
Putnam2430
Scott2310
Edwards2263
Gallatin1913
Unassigned1850
Hardin1551
Pope1011
Out of IL100

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 333312

Reported Deaths: 5685
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion45371865
Lake28722469
Allen19325304
Elkhart17945235
St. Joseph17599237
Hamilton14061171
Vanderburgh10280127
Tippecanoe920230
Porter873389
Johnson6973170
Hendricks6674158
Vigo637392
Monroe560850
Madison5410122
Clark540478
Delaware5184103
LaPorte492897
Kosciusko480741
Howard379478
Bartholomew347365
Warrick343073
Wayne340985
Floyd334978
Marshall317946
Cass307931
Grant295450
Hancock286957
Noble269347
Henry262837
Boone261955
Dubois249632
Dearborn238231
Jackson235534
Morgan228743
Gibson201229
Shelby199859
Knox196621
DeKalb190234
Clinton189222
Lawrence187949
Wabash181122
Miami176817
Adams176223
Daviess165845
Fayette157634
Steuben156415
Jasper155913
Montgomery154629
Harrison154124
Ripley151521
LaGrange150631
Whitley146815
Huntington140210
Decatur137144
Putnam134828
White134823
Wells134630
Clay132724
Randolph132622
Jefferson131316
Posey127718
Scott118921
Greene109053
Sullivan105016
Jay104414
Jennings97814
Starke96624
Spencer9078
Fulton88619
Perry86421
Fountain8608
Washington8387
Franklin75727
Carroll73713
Orange71828
Vermillion6867
Owen6598
Tipton62727
Parke6226
Rush5918
Newton58812
Blackford57312
Pike54020
Pulaski44215
Benton3843
Martin3826
Brown3705
Crawford3221
Union2862
Switzerland2725
Warren2653
Ohio2437
Unassigned0267