Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is seen during a meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
Was Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and then his body cut up with a bone saw and flown to Riyadh in Gulfstream jets owned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman?
So contend the Turks, who have video from the consulate, photos of 15 Saudi agents who flew into Istanbul that day, Oct. 2, and the identity numbers of the planes.
Supporting the thesis of either a murder in the consulate or a "rendition," a kidnaping gone horribly bad, is a Post story that U.S. intel intercepted Saudi planning, ordered by the prince, to lure Khashoggi from his suburban D.C. home back to Saudi Arabia. And for what beneficent purpose?
If these charges are not refuted by Riyadh, there will likely be, and should be, as John Bolton said in another context, "hell to pay."
And the collateral diplomatic damage looks to be massive.
Any U.S.-backed "Arab NATO" to face down Iran, with Riyadh as central pillar, would appear dead. Continued U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen would now be in question.
The special relationship the crown prince and President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have established could be history.
Congress could cancel U.S. arms sales to the kingdom that keep thousands of U.S. defense workers employed, and impose sanctions on the prince who is heir apparent to the throne of his 82-year-old father, King Salman.
Today, the Saudi prince has become toxic, and his ascension to the Saudi throne seems less inevitable than two weeks ago. Yet, well before Khashoggi's disappearance in the consulate, Crown Prince Mohammed's behavior had seemed wildly erratic.
Along with the UAE, he charged Qatar with supporting terrorism, severed relations, and threatened to build a ditch to sever Qatar from the Arabian Peninsula. To protest criticism of his country's human rights record by Canada's foreign minister, he cut all ties to Ottawa.
Last year, he summoned Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh, held him for a week, and forced him to resign his office and blame it on Iranian interference in Lebanon. Released, Hariri returned home to reclaim his office.
A professed reformer, Crown Prince Mohammed opened movie theaters to women and allowed them to drive, and then jailed the social activists who had called for these reforms.
Three years ago, he initiated the war on the Houthis, after the rebels ousted a pro-Saudi president and took over most of the country.
And, since 2015, the crown prince has conducted a savage air war that has brought Houthi missiles down on his own country and capital.
Yemen has become Saudi Arabia's Vietnam.
That our principal Arab ally in our confrontation with Iran, which could lead to yet another U.S. war, is a regime headed by so unstable a character should raise serious concerns about where it is we are going in the Middle East.
Have we not wars already?
Do we not have enough enemies in the region — Taliban, al-Qaida, ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iran — to be starting another war?
As for our regional allies, consider.
NATO ally Turkey, which is pressing the case against our Saudi allies, leads the world in the number of journalists jailed. Our Egyptian ally, Gen. al-Sissi, came to power in a military coup, and has imprisoned thousands of dissidents of the Muslim Brotherhood.
While we have proclaimed Iran the "world's greatest state sponsor of terror," it is Yemen, where Saudi Arabia intervened in 2015, that is regarded as the world's great human rights catastrophe.
Moreover, Iran is itself suffering from terrorism.
Last month, a military parade in the city of Ahvaz in the southwest was attacked by gunmen who massacred 25 soldiers and civilians in the deadliest terror attack in Iran in a decade.
And like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, Iran suffers, too, from tribalism, with Arab secessionists in its southwest, Baloch secessionists in its southeast, and Kurd secessionists in its northwest.
The U.S. cannot look aside at a royal Saudi hand in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist in its consulate in Istanbul. But before we separate ourselves from the Riyadh regime, we should ask what is the alternative if the House of Saud should be destabilized or fall?
When Egypt's King Farouk was overthrown in 1952, we got Nasser.
When young King Faisal was overthrown in Baghdad in 1958, we eventually got Saddam Hussein. When King Idris in Libya was ousted in 1969, we got Qaddafi. When Haile Selassie was overthrown and murdered in Ethiopia in 1974, we got Col. Mengistu and mass murder. When the Shah was overthrown in Iran in 1979, we got the Ayatollah.
As World War I, when four empires fell, testifies, wars are hell on monarchies. And if a new and larger Middle East war, with Iran, should break out in the Gulf, some of the Arab kings, emirs and sultans will likely fall.
And when they do, history shows, it is not usually democrats who rise to replace them.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever."
Washington Post: Turkey has proof Saudi writer was killed
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s government has told U.S. officials it has audio and video proof that missing Saudi Arabian writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Washington Post reported Friday.
The newspaper, for which Khashoggi is a columnist, cited anonymous officials as saying the recordings show a Saudi security team detained the writer when he went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding.
The Associated Press was not immediately able to confirm the report, and Turkish officials would not comment.
A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey Friday as part of an investigation into the writer’s disappearance, Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu said.
Saudi Arabia has called the allegation it abducted or harmed Khashoggi “baseless.” However, it has offered no evidence to support its claim he left the consulate and vanished despite his fiance waiting outside.
Anadolu Agency said the delegation would hold talks with Turkish officials over the weekend. It did not provide further details.
On Thursday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey and Saudi Arabia would form a “joint working group” to look into Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The 59-year-old journalist, who was considered close to the Saudi royal family, had became a critic of the current government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old heir apparent who has introduced reforms but shown little tolerance for criticism.
Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year. As a contributor to the Washington Post, he has written extensively about Saudi Arabia, including criticism of its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving.
Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince, who has also presided over a roundup of activists and businessmen.
BARACK Hussein OBAMA: THE CLOSET MUSLIM PSYCHOPATH WHO HATED AMERICA!
"But the Obamas are the center of the most delusional cult of personality that the media has yet spawned. And so we get bizarre pieces like these."
“Facilitating strategic technology transfer in return for money is an old Clinton game. The Chinese bought their way to access of considerable space technology when Bill Clinton was president. Remember Charlie Trie, Loral, and the rest of the crew?”
“Facilitating strategic technology transfer in return for money is an old Clinton game. The Chinese bought their way to access of considerable space technology when Bill Clinton was president. Remember Charlie Trie, Loral, and the rest of the crew?”
Graham: If Saudi Arabia Murdered Khashoggi, Everything Should Be on the Table
On Thursday’s broadcast of CNN’s “OutFront,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that if Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi Arabia there should be “all-out sanctions” and everything should be on the table.
Graham said that if Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, there will be “hell to pay.” He added that this “means all-out sanctions against those who engaged in this behavior, isolating the regime, treating it with the contempt they showed to us. … And if they, in fact, did this, I want every other country that we deal with to understand what would happen to you. We’d hit them in the wallet and everything, in my view, would be on the table.”
As more and more details emerge about the disappearance on October 2 of the well-known Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, it is becoming clear that a monstrous crime has been committed with serious worldwide implications.
The Turkish media has published photographs and video footage documenting the arrival at Ataturk airport—on the same day as Khashoggi’s disappearance—of a 15-member Saudi death squad. It included two air force officers, intelligence operatives and members of the elite personal guard of the Saudi monarchy. Also among them, according to Turkish authorities, was a forensics expert, who reportedly came equipped with a bone saw.
Turkish media reports indicate that Khashoggi had visited the consulate a week earlier seeking documents he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman. He was told to return on October 2 at 1 p.m. Local staff were instructed to take the afternoon off as the 15 state assassins arrived. Khashoggi was, according to accounts of Turkish security officials speaking on condition of anonymity, dragged from the consul’s office and killed, and his body then dismembered with the saw.
This crime has attracted worldwide attention for its brazenness and brutality, as well as because of the identity of the apparent victim. Khashoggi’s journalistic career has been that of an insider within Saudi ruling circles, with close connections to some of the Kingdom’s most powerful officials and billionaires. He served as an aide to the long-time Saudi intelligence chief and former ambassador to the US, Prince Turki bin Faisal, and was known as an interlocutor between the monarchy and Western media and officials.
In September 2017 the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS)—praised by the Western media as a great “reformer” and feted by the Trump administration as well as America’s financial elite—launched a brutal crackdown, including against members of the royal family, prominent business figures and some journalists. The dictatorial actions were largely ignored or supported by the Western media. The ineffable foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times, Thomas Friedman, who was wined and dined at a royal palace in Riyadh, wrote at the time that “not a single Saudi I spoke to here over three days expressed anything other than effusive support for this anticorruption drive.”
Khashoggi chose to avoid imprisonment through self-imposed exile in the US, where he was given a column in the Washington Post and initiated the process of becoming a US citizen. He used the column to criticize Mohammed bin Salman from a standpoint reflecting the divisions within the royal family itself. Most recently, he wrote a condemnation of the war waged by the Saudi regime against Yemen, an intervention initiated by MBS.
Despite his prominence, the Trump administration has been extremely reticent to call any attention to Khashoggi’s disappearance, waiting a week to make any statement. Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he knew “what everybody else knows—nothing” about the journalist’s fate. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement calling on the Saudi monarchy to support a “thorough investigation” of its own crime.
It appears, however, that the US government was well informed of Saudi plans to eliminate Khashoggi, with the Washington Post reporting that before his disappearance, US intelligence had intercepted communications between Saudi officials revealing a plan to abduct the journalist.
Whatever the case, Saudi Arabia’s vicious monarchical regime has long been the linchpin of imperialist domination and political reaction throughout the Middle East. These ties—under both Democratic and Republican administrations—have remained firm as the regime has routinely beheaded political opponents and non-violent offenders, putting 150 to the sword in 2017 alone.
Before Khashoggi’s disappearance, an estimated 30 Saudi journalists had already been imprisoned or disappeared, without any protest from the Western powers, the US chief among them, who sell billions of dollars in arms to the kingdom and profit off its oil wealth.
The US-Saudi connection has grown only closer under the Trump administration, which has sought to forge an anti-Iranian axis based upon Saudi Arabia and Israel, while continuing and expanding US aid to the near-genocidal war against the people of Yemen.
This relationship—underscored once again by Washington’s official reaction to the disappearance of Khashoggi—exposes the unmitigated cynicism and hypocrisy of US imperialism’s “human rights” pretensions and feigned outrage over alleged crimes carried out by governments that it views as strategic rivals or that it is seeking to overthrow, from Russia and China to Iran, Syria and Venezuela.
The Khashoggi affair has far broader international significance. It is emblematic of a sinister shift in world politics, in which such heinous crimes are becoming more and more common and accepted. It recalls the conditions that existed in the darkest days of the 1930s, when fascist and Stalinist death squads hunted down and murdered socialists and other opponents of Hitler and Stalin throughout Europe.
Journalists have suffered the consequence of this change in global politics, with the Committee to Protect Journalists reporting 48 killed this year—a 50 percent increase over all of 2017—as well as another 60 “disappeared” around the planet.
Targeted assassinations, developed by the Israelis as a central instrument of state policy, were adapted by Washington in its so-called “global war on terror” on an industrial scale. The killings, torture and “extraordinary renditions” begun under the Bush administration—for which no one was ever punished, not to mention a “black site” torturer being elevated to director of the CIA—were institutionalized under Obama with the White House organizing its so-called “terror Tuesdays” in which targets for assassination were selected from files and photographs presented to the president and his aides.
US wars of aggression that have claimed the lives of millions, the routine assassination of supposed “terrorists,” and the wholesale repudiation of international law as an unacceptable fetter on American interests, have created a fetid global political environment in which crimes like that committed against Khashoggi are not only possible, but inevitable.
In the face of growing social tensions and sharpening class struggle rooted in the crisis of the global capitalist system, there has been a sharp turn to the right and toward authoritarianism in bourgeois politics, from the rise of Trump in the US, to the increasing strength of far-right forces in Europe, to the near election of a fascistic former army captain in Brazil. Under these conditions, the methods of assassination and disappearances as a means of dealing with opponents of the existing governments and social order will become ever more prevalent.
The fate of Jamal Khashoggi, whose high-level connections apparently failed to protect him, must be taken as a serious warning. Those who place themselves in the hands of the state in virtually any country have no reliable expectation that they will emerge intact.
The only answer to this threat—and that of a global relapse into fascism and world war—lies in the building of a mass revolutionary socialist movement to unite the international working class in the struggle against social inequality, dictatorship and war.
Bill Van Auken
Trump defends arms sales to Saudi Arabia as senators push for kingdom to be sanctioned over missing journalist feared to have been chopped up by its agents
In the Oval Office President Trump said the U.S. could not miss out on $110 billion in military equipment sales
Some senators are already pushing for sanctions on the country and say the suspected death of Jamal Khashoggi bolsters their case
Washington Post columnist Khashoggi was a long-term critic of the Saudi regime and has not been seen since entering its Istanbul consulate last week
Turkish police fear he was killed, chopped up and his remains smuggled out of the country by a 15-strong team of Saudi agents who flew in for just a day
Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has cultivated close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
PUBLISHED: 01:56 EDT, 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 18:36 EDT, 11 October 2018
President Donald Trump defended continuing huge sales of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia on Thursday despite rising pressure from lawmakers to punish the kingdom over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist who lived in the United States and is now feared dead.
As senators pushed for sanctions under a human rights law and also questioned American support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, Trump appeared reluctant to rock the boat in a relationship that has been key to his strategy in the Middle East. He said withholding sales would hurt the U.S. economy.
'I don't like stopping massive amounts of money that's been pouring into our country. They are spending 110 billion on military equipment,' Trump said, referring to proposed sales announced in May 2017 when he went to Saudi Arabia in the first overseas trip of his presidency. He warned that the Saudis could instead buy from Russia or China.
Trump maintained that the U.S. is being 'very tough' as it looks into the case of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi leadership and a contributor to The Washington Post who has been missing since Oct. 2.
He had entered a Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul to get marriage paperwork as his fiancee waited outside and hasn't been seen since.
No go: 'I don't like stopping massive amounts of money that's been pouring into our country. They are spending 110 billion on military equipment,' Trump said as he rejected sanctions over the suspected state-ordered murder of Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi's Istanbul consulate
Deal maker: Trump's son in law Jared Kushner struck up a close relationship with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Trump welcomed him to the Oval Office in March to discuss arms sales
Turkish officials say they fear Saudi Arabia killed and dismembered Khashoggi but have offered no evidence beyond video footage of the journalist entering the consulate and the arrival in the country of what they describe as a 15-member Saudi team that allegedly targeted him. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegation as 'baseless.'
In Istanbul, Turkish media said that Saudi royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert had been part of the team flown in and targeting Khashoggi.
Those reported details, along with comments from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appeared aimed at gradually pressuring Saudi Arabia to reveal what happened while also balancing a need to maintain Saudi investments in Turkey and relations on other issues.
Trump, questioned by reporters at the White House, said, 'If it turns out to be as bad as it might be, there are certainly other ways of handling this situation' besides canceling arms sales. He did not elaborate.
He said earlier on 'Fox & Friends' that 'we have investigators over there and we're working with Turkey' and with Saudi Arabia on the case, but he provided no evidence or elaboration.
Meanwhile, there was a clear and growing disconnect between many in Congress, who want tougher action, and the president.
Even before Khashoggi's disappearance, lawmakers had soured on a Saudi government they view as having a high-handed attitude. Some have been incredulous at its denials of wrongdoing and contention it has no recorded video footage from the consulate showing Khashoggi, who had been living in self-exile in Virginia for the past year.
'There's a sense of entitlement, I hate to use the word, arrogance, that comes with dealing with them,' said Sen. Bob Corker, Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 'Part of that may be that they have an incredibly close relationship with the administration.'
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy voiced doubt there would be support in Congress to approve another arms sale to Saudi Arabia - although lawmakers haven't blocked sales before.
He also called for at least a temporary halt in U.S. military support for the Saudi bombing campaign against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen.
If Saudi Arabia is not telling the truth about Khashoggi, he told reporters, 'why would we believe them that they are not intentionally hitting civilians inside Yemen?'
Murphy was among seven senators who wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday raising concerns over last month's certification that a Saudi-led coalition was taking actions to protect civilians despite what the lawmakers described as a dramatic increase in deaths.
The Trump administration, however, is heavily invested in the long-standing, U.S. relationship with Riyadh. with...
Secrets inside: A security guard checks on the entrance of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul. Saudi royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert were part of a 15-member team from the kingdom that targeted missing writer Jamal Khashoggi
Eye of the storm: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who posed inside his plane with journalists traveling with him from a state visit to Hungary, has stepped up pressure on Saudi Arabia for answers to what happened to Jamal Khashoggi
It relies on Saudi support for its Middle East effort to counter Iranian influence and fight extremism.
Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has cultivated close ties with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and was instrumental in last year's $110 billion arms package.
Those associations could become a political liability if Prince Mohammed is implicated in Khashoggi's disappearance.
The Washington Post, citing anonymous American officials it said were familiar with U.S. intelligence, said the crown prince had previously ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him.
The Associated Press could not confirm that report, but a U.S.-based friend of Khashoggi said the journalist had told him he had received a call from an adviser to the Saudi royal court in late May or early June urging him to return to his homeland.
Khaled Saffuri said the adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, told Khashoggi 'that the crown prince wants him back and said you are our son, you are loyal, the crown prince would like you to come and be his adviser, stuff like that.'
Saffuri said he asked Khashoggi if he would return. 'He said: 'Are you crazy? I don't trust him for a minute.''
In Turkey on Thursday, a spokesman for President Erdogan told the state-run Anadolu Agency that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would form a 'joint working group' to look into the journalist's disappearance.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. was traveling to Saudi Arabia, and that the U.S. expects him to provide information about the Khashoggi case when he returns. She added that the U.S. had not requested the ambassador, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, to leave.
Congress Threatens Sanctions Against Saudi Arabia over Journalist Disappearance
A bipartisan group of senators wrote to the White House on Wednesday invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to demand an investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and possible sanctions against Saudi Arabia.
One of the co-authors of the letter, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), said he has seen intelligence reports indicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia so he could be arrested.
The letter was written by Corker and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) of the Foreign Relations Committee and Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. The 22 signatories included Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Ron Johnson.
The letter noted the Magnitsky Act – named for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who the Russian government arrested and killed in 2009 after uncovering widespread corruption – requires the president to investigate “extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights” by foreign authorities upon request by the Senate. The senators indicated there are reasons to believe Khashoggi has suffered such abuse.
“Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi. Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia,” the letter stated.
Corker told reporters on Wednesday he appreciates the reform agenda pursued by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is commonly referred to by his initials “MBS,” but made it clear the abduction or murder of Khashoggi was completely unacceptable if the Saudi government was involved.
“MBS is a person of the future. He’s got a vision for the country that I think is extraordinary for a young leader,” Corker said, while making it clear the Crown Prince could nonetheless be targeted personally by U.S. sanctions if he was complicit in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“We need to push back on activities like this if they have occurred,” Corker said. “We need to nip it in the bud. This is what this is intended to do, to send a strong message from us. It’s my hope that it doesn’t lead to the top. Indications are that if in fact he was murdered, it could well do so.”
The Washington Poston Wednesday reported U.S. intelligence intercepted communications from Saudi officials over the past four months indicating Crown Prince bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia so he could be arrested.
“Several of Khashoggi’s friends said that over the past four months, senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had called Khashoggi to offer him protection, and even a high-level job working for the government if he returned to his home country,” the Post reported.
Khashoggi’s response to these offers, according to one of his friends, was: “Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit.”
U.S. officials quoted by the Post described the intelligence concerning a Saudi plot to abduct Khashoggi as too vague to trigger a warning to the journalist under longstanding American policy. The office of the Director of National Intelligence would neither confirm or deny that Khashoggi received a warning. A spokesman for the State Department insisted the U.S. government had “no advance warning” of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“We can confirm that Ambassador Bolton and Jared Kushner have spoken to the crown prince yesterday, and we can confirm as well that the Secretary of State then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate our request for more information. We continue to call for a transparent investigation, and we’re going to continue to monitor this situation,” the State Department said on Wednesday.
One former intelligence official speculated the mysterious 15-member team sent from Saudi Arabia to Istanbul on the day of Khashoggi’s disappearance intended to conduct a “rendition” operation and spirit him back to Saudi territory, but something may have gone wrong and resulted in Khashoggi’s death. On the other hand, a “source close to the royal family” told the UK Daily MailKhashoggi is alive and was successfully transported to Saudi Arabia.
The Washington Post described President Donald Trump as increasingly frustrated with the lack of response from Saudi officials on questions related to the Khashoggi case. The White House is reportedly considering options to “force Saudi Arabia to provide answers” and punish the Saudi government if necessary.
“We cannot let this happen to reporters, to anybody. We’re demanding everything. We want to see what’s going on there,” President Trump said on Wednesday.
Turkish media on Thursday identified more of the 15 members of the Saudi team sent to the Istanbul consulate last Tuesday when Khashoggi disappeared. The team was already known to include a forensic medical expert. According to the new reports, it also included intelligence officers, soldiers, and members of the royal guard. The uniform nature of these reports and their detailed nature suggest the Turkish government is feeding intelligence reports to the media for publication.
Possibly angered by Turkey’s extensive coverage of the team that was sent to the consulate, Saudi authorities abruptly changed their minds about allowing Turkish investigators access to the consulate and blocked the Turks from entering on Wednesday.
The New York Times on Wednesday withdrew as a media sponsor of the upcoming “Davos in the Desert” economic conference, a major event hosted by Saudi Arabia from October 23 to 25. Human rights activists are pressuring other media operations and corporate participants to withdraw from the conference to protest Khashoggi’s disappearance. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is currently scheduled to attend the event.
Saudi Arabia told to come clean over disappearance of exiled journalist 'chopped up in embassy' by alleged 15-member assassination squad
Saudi Arabia faced mounting pressure to come clean over Jamal Khashoggi
They failed to release any proof the exiled journalist left Istanbul consulate alive
Identities of an alleged 15-member Saudi assassination squad surfaced
It is said to include a special forces officer and members of the royal guard
PUBLISHED: 18:39 EDT, 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:56 EDT, 11 October 2018
Saudi Arabia was last night facing mounting international pressure to come clean over the disappearance of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As the kingdom failed to release any proof that the dissident left its consulate in Istanbul alive, the identities of an alleged 15-member assassination squad surfaced.
The team is said to include a Saudi special forces officer, members of the royal guard and a senior forensics expert.
Saudi Arabia was last night facing mounting international pressure to come clean over the disappearance of exiled journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pictured in December 2014
How the 'hit squad', said to include a Saudi special forces officer, swooped
Another was named as Maher Mutreb, described online as a colonel in Saudi intelligence, stationed previously at the Saudi embassy in London for two years.Their identities emerged as:
US intelligence was said to have intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him;
Turkish investigators were examining CCTV showing the movements of the alleged hit squad;
It was revealed consulate staff were reportedly given the afternoon off on the day Mr Khashoggi went missing because of a ‘high level’ meeting;
Turkish officials claimed he was murdered on the orders of the royal court in a scene like ‘Pulp Fiction’ which included use of a bone saw;
US President Donald Trump said he had talked to Saudi authorities ‘at the highest level’ to demand answers;
The Spectator reported claims that Mr Khashoggi had been offered a role as an adviser if he returned to Saudi Arabia but had declined because of ‘moral and religious’ principles.
Mr Khashoggi vanished on October 2 after entering his country’s consulate to obtain official documents ahead of his marriage to his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz. Turkish sources believe he was tortured, killed and dismembered. They said at the weekend they believed Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team sent to Istanbul and thought to consist of 15 Saudis.
Arriving to 'death' - 1.14pm: Jamal Khashoggi, right, at Saudi consulate in Istanbul
Pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah yesterday published the names and photographs of 15 nationals who flew in on the day of his disappearance. They allegedly arrived in Istanbul on board at least two private jets in the early hours of October 2 and checked into two five-star hotels – the Movenpick and the Wyndham.
CCTV released by Turkish TV showed a man believed to be Mr Khashoggi enter the consulate as well as a vehicle entering and leaving the building after he went inside. Footage also showed some of the Saudis arriving in Istanbul.
It is said some of the men went into the Saudi consulate before Mr Khashoggi. According to the images, a vehicle that went inside the consulate was then driven to the consul-general’s residence nearby, around two hours after Mr Khashoggi had gone in.
On the move - 3.08pm: Vehicles with diplomatic plates leave the Istanbul consulate
One of them, a Mercedes Vito, stops for several hours at Saudi consul general's residence
Askam newspaper speculated it was ‘almost certain’ that Mr Khashoggi had been taken in the vehicle. Media also reported the possibility Mr Khashoggi was taken aboard one of the private planes. Both aircraft later returned to Riyadh with one stopping in Dubai and the other in Egypt, it was claimed.
Sabah published the names and images of what it called the ‘assassination team’. Two appeared to be members of the Saudi royal guard, pictured in a photograph next to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Police were seen entering the consulate yesterday but it is understood the Saudis rescinded an offer to allow forensic experts onto the premises after details of the Saudi identities emerged.
Riyadh has insisted Mr Khashoggi, 59, left the building alive and murder claims are ‘baseless’. It says CCTV at the consulate were not working on the day in question.
15 men investigated over missing journalist are caught on camera
Fiancée 'overcome with fear'
Worried fiancée: Hatice Cengiz, circled right, makes a call outside the consulate
Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee yesterday spoke of her ‘fear and concern’ for his wellbeing.
Hatice Cengiz spent 11 hours waiting for the journalist after he went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork for their marriage.
‘I don’t know how I can keep living if he was abducted or killed in Turkey,’ the 36-year-old wrote in the Washington Post, the paper Mr Khashoggi worked for.
Miss Cengiz, who lives in Istanbul, said she believed she was the woman seen in CCTV footage taken outside the consulate.
‘We were in the middle of making wedding plans, life plans,’ she added. ‘After the consulate, we were going to buy appliances for our new home and set a date. All we needed was a piece of paper.’
Miss Cengiz said Mr Khashoggi had visited the consulate on September 28 despite some concern that he could be in danger.
She wrote: ‘Although his opinions had angered certain people, he said, the tensions between himself and Saudi Arabia did not amount to hate, grudges or threats.
‘He was, however, increasingly worried about an unprecedented wave of arrests in his country.’
She said he did not think the Saudis could force him to stay at the consulate, adding: ‘He did not believe that something bad could happen on Turkish soil. After a positive first meeting with consular staff, who welcomed him warmly and assured him that the necessary paperwork would come through, Jamal was hardly concerned ahead of his second visit.
‘He walked into the consulate of Saudi Arabia, his native country, without doubting he would be safe there. But after three hours I was overcome with fear and concern.’
She went in to ask where he was but was told he had left without her noticing. ‘Although my hope slowly fades away each passing day, I remain confident that Jamal is still alive,’ she added.
Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen centuries of war between Islam and the West
by Raymond Ibrahim
De Capo Press/Hachette Book Group
394 pages with notes and index
Every once in a while, I come across a book that I can say changed the way I understand the world I live in. Raymond Ibrahim's new book, Sword and Scimitar, altered the way I understand the development of our civilization – I mean the one that America inherited from Europe and made our own. It drove home to me how little I knew about the way Islam – in the form of attempted and often successful conquest – really changed the way our civilization evolved and the way it grew to understand itself.
For one thing, prior to Mohammed, our predecessors didn't think of themselves as part of "Western" or even "European" civilization. Back when Mohammed kicked off the promise of eternal jihad in 630 (recorded in Koran 9:29), our civilizational forebearers thought of themselves as part of Christendom, an area that included North Africa, much of the Middle East, modern Turkey, and more. Mohammed and his successor jihad warriors over the next centuries cut Christendom down to Europe, the western flank of the dar al-harb, where more secular geographic and cultural identities eventually thrived. They became "Western civilization" because they were west of the Islamic heartland in Arabia and beyond.
Sword and Scimitar takes the form of a military history of eight key battles between Muslims and the Christian world over the course of almost a millennium and a half, in which a variety of Islamic military leaders of very different ethnic and racial backgrounds – Arab, Berber, Mongol, Tartar, and Turk – carried out Mohammed's injunction of eternal jihad. They understood jihad not as a spiritual quest to be better, but as armed conquest, followed by plunder, enslavement, mass torture and execution, and repopulation, with mass conversion under threat or advantage, helped along, I might add, by systematic rape of the nubile female population to produce Muslim babies.
I think I understand why my education left me bereft of a good understanding of the role of Islam in defining my own civilization. It is often an uncomfortable history, too often a story of failure with the direst possible consequences for the side I (and our past but not current crop of historians) identified and sympathized with. At many junctures, factionalism, greed, stupidity, and worse played a major role. Ibrahim does an excellent job of showing how this played out on both sides, and not always for the worse in the West. It should be noted that four of the battles covered are Christian defeats and Muslim victories, but four are the reverse.
Raymond Ibrahim tells this history vividly, clearly, and engagingly. He deserves the major credit for this feat, but it is worth noting that he is a student of Victor Davis Hanson – and it shows. Sword and Scimitar is in a sense two books: the author provides a historical narrative that moves along briskly, telling the stories of the development of the eight battles, their fighting, and the outcomes and consequences. For each of the battles, Ibrahim provides an excellent look at the political, cultural, and economic context on both sides, so the detailed accounts of what happened in battle fill in a broader picture of civilizational conflict. But the large number of footnotes on the bottom of pages provides not just further details, but excursions into tangential topics raised by the main narrative. I confess that I was often torn between continuing the main narrative and following the additional thoughts and stories of the footnotes. (This was not an unhappy dilemma – books can be picked up again to return to the footnotes.)
The author, born to Coptic Christian immigrants from Egypt, has spent years reading and translating Arabic, Greek, and other historians, often incorporating phrases and sentences from them in the midst of his narrative. He strives to convey and succeeds in conveying how both sides saw their confrontations and how later historians on each side explained the outcomes.
He starts with the six-day-long Battle of Yarmuk in 636, two years following the Arab invasion of Syria, then much larger and deeply Christian, a province of the Roman Empire (governed from Constantinople). There, vastly numerically inferior Arab forces defeated a far larger detachment sent by the Byzantine emperor to crush the early military challenges coming from Arabs inspired by messianic expansionism. Following the collapse of Christian forces at Yarmuk, near the current Jordanian-Syrian border, the Arab jihad warriors spread rapidly, capturing Jerusalem the following year, and on to Egypt, the oldest continuous Christian community in the world, as Ibrahim points out, and from there, North Africa (completely subdued by 709) and then Spain and into France, where Charles Martel finally halted the advance at Tours in 732.
One of the things that makes Sword and Scimitar so valuable is that unlike the dominant secular mindset of most academic historians, Ibrahim understands the role religion plays in the lives of individuals, groups, nations, and civilizations. He makes it clear that religion was central to the Islamic conquests – which seems obvious, except that many modern historians prefer to see the battles in economic terms. The fact that Muslim warriors were promised heaven and a supply of virgins if they died in battle, and the chance at plunder, rape, and domination if they survived and won, provided a tremendous advantage in recruiting and motivating the troops – so much so that after the better part of a millennium, a countervailing doctrine was cooked up for the Christian forces in the Middle Ages.
A second and even more valuable feature of Sword and Scimitar is the author's examination of the continuities in jihad warfare across the fourteen centuries of battle and on to our own time of terrorism and ISIS. If you want to understand these current vital concerns, you need to read this book.
FBI Chief Warns: MS-13, Islamic State May Use Drones to Attack U.S.
WASHINGTON, DC — The United States is facing an “escalating” threat from the use of civilian drones as weapons by the likes of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and MS-13, the FBI director cautioned on Wednesday.
In written testimony prepared for hearing by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray declared:
The threat from Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS] in the U.S. is steadily escalating….While there has been no successful malicious use of UAS by terrorists in the United States to date, terrorist groups could easily export their battlefield experiences to use weaponized UAS outside the conflict zone. We have seen repeated and dedicated efforts to use UAS as weapons, not only by terrorist organizations, such as ISIS and Al Qa’ida, but also by transnational criminal organizations such as MS-13 and Mexican drug cartels, which may encourage [the] use of this technique in the U.S. to conduct attacks.
The FBI assesses that, given their retail availability, lack of verified identification requirement to procure, general ease of use, and prior use overseas, UAS will be used to facilitate an attack in the United States against a vulnerable target, such as a mass gathering.
According to the FBI, the MS-13 gang maintains a presence in at least 42 states in the District of Columbia and counts with the support of “about 6,000-10,000 members nationwide.”
While describing shifts in the threat landscape more than 17 years after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen identified the use of civilian drones to advance nefarious activities as an example of emerging threats that are outpacing America’s defenses.
The DHS secretary, who appeared alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray at the hearing, told lawmakers via written testimony:
Terrorists are using drones on the battlefield to surveil and to destroy; drug smugglers are using them to monitor border patrol officers so they can slip into America undetected; and criminals are using them to spy on sensitive facilities. The threat is real, and they can be used for a wide array of nefarious purposes.
Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), a component of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), also highlighted the menace posed by the use of drones as weapons while testifying alongside Wray and Nielsen.
We are particularly concerned by their ongoing and future weaponization of more secure forms of communication, social media, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and weapons of mass destruction…an increasing number of terrorist organizations are making use of UAS for reconnaissance and surveillance, and we believe the use of this technology for kinetic operations will only grow.
Nielsen noted that until recently the federal government lacked the authority to combat the growing threat posed by drones, officially known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
The DHS secretary told lawmakers:
Unfortunately, outdated laws have prevented us from setting up the sophisticated countermeasures we need to protect significant national events, federal facilities, and other potential targets from an airborne menace. DHS has lacked the clear legal authority to track and identify dangerous drones—and to neutralize them effectively if they are determined to be a threat.
Furthermore, we have not been able to test many of the crucial countermeasures we need in real-world environments where the risks exist.
According to Nielsen, the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] Reauthorization Act of 2018, signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump this week, will help DHS secure the authorities it needs to combat the drone threat.
“It will give us the ability to better protect Americans against unmanned aerial threats. We have already begun planning in earnest for how to best deploy these authorities and defensive technologies to defend the United States against this emerging danger,” she explained, referring to the measure.
U.S.-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) linked to jihadi groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda represent the top threat facing the United States, the witnesses testified.
The U.S. government has also deemed transnational criminal organizations like Mexican drug cartels and MS-13 a prominent menace against the U.S.
Turkish TV airs VIDEO of missing journalist walking into Saudi consulate, black van leaving
A Turkish TV station has aired CCTV footage of missing dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last Tuesday, with a black van later arriving and presumably taking him away.
Footage of Khashoggi entering the consulate on October 2 was broadcast by private Turkish news channel 24 on Wednesday, followed by a video of a black Mercedes Vito leaving the premises. The video suggests that Khashoggi was in the vehicle at the time.
The channel added that the van then drove the short distance to the consul's home, where it parked inside a garage.
Earlier on Wednesday, several Turkish newspapers published the identities of 15 Saudi men who Turkish authorities believe were part of a hit squad which touched down in Istanbul the same day Khashoggi visited the consulate, departing later that day.
Stills of the airport show the men arrived from Riyadh to Istanbul in two private jets with the tail numbers HZ SK1 and HZ SK2, the Daily Sabah reported. The report added that most of the men stayed at the Wyndham Grand Hotel and Movenpick Hotel, both located close to the consulate.
It’s believed that several of the men belong to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's elite close protection unit, a source told Middle East Eye.
Saudi authorities have denied any foul play, calling the allegations “baseless.”
On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hami Aksoy, said the Saudis would allow Turkish police to search the consulate building, a week after Khashoggi disappeared. However, a time for the search was not given.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who fled his country last year for fear of political repression, had been a vocal critic of Salman’s crackdown on political dissent and the Saudi military’s conduct in the Yemen civil war.
A columnist with the Washington Post, Khashoggi was living between Washington DC and Istanbul at the time of his disappearance, and was visiting the consulate in order to obtain documents proving an earlier divorce so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée.
ONCE A MUSLIM, ALWAYS A MURDERER!
Muslims Stone to Death Christians in Barack Hussein Obama’s hometown of Kenya
Earlier this month, jihadists of the Al-Shabaab terror group hijacked a bus heading to Garissa and ordered all the passengers to exit the vehicle. The assailants asked for identification cards, then proceeded to separate the Muslims from the Christians.
When two Christians refused to recite the Islamic statement of faith, or Shahada, they were executed.
No Safe Haven
The Saudi regime appears to have butchered a prominent dissident.
Late last week, the Washington Post ran blank space where a column by dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for its Global Opinions section, should have appeared. The wordless column was a powerful expression of concern about Khashoggi’s fate. A leading critic of the Saudi kingdom’s leadership, Khashoggi had not been seen since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last Tuesday to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage. According to his fiancée, who accompanied him and waited outside, he entered the building at 1:30 pm and failed to emerge when the office closed at 5 pm. By the time the Post published the blank column, there was still hope that he was being held inside the consulate and would be released.
That hope diminished over the weekend, when several news outlets reported the possibility that Khashoggi had been killed and dismembered at the consulate so that his body could be smuggled out of the building without detection. The media also reported that a 15-member Saudi hit team had arrived in Turkey and entered the consulate shortly before Khashoggi’s arrival.
Saudi Arabia has denied involvement. Claiming that Khashoggi left the embassy, Saudi officials expressed concern about his mysterious disappearance. “We hear the rumors about what happened,” Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Salman, known in the West as MBS, told Bloomberg News in an extensive interview. “He’s a Saudi citizen and we are very keen to know what happened to him. And we will continue our dialogue with the Turkish government to see what happened to Jamal there.”
There is, unfortunately, no Arabic word for chutzpah, since such an egregious act would undoubtedly have required the brash 33-year-old prince’s authorization or acquiescence.
Having known (and debated) Jamal for many years, I continue to hope, against logic, that he remains alive. But if Khashoggi has joined the long list of Saudi critics whom the notoriously thin-skinned crown prince has punished, the time has come to decry his increasingly brutal, reckless behavior.
Khashoggi’s last column for the Post, in which he attacked MBS’s signature foreign policy initiative—the disastrous war in Yemen—may have been the proverbial straw for the crown prince. As a newly minted 29-year-old defense minister in 2015, MBS relentlessly promoted Riyadh’s intervention in the Yemeni civil war against the Iranian-backed Zaydi Shiite Houthis. Khashoggi condemned that war, arguing that the kingdom was becoming morally indistinguishable from Syrian president Bashar Assad and the Iranians in helping continue the civil wars in Syria and Yemen.
A decision to kill such a prominent dissident would add to MBS’s growing list of unforced errors—including leading the effort to boycott Qatar, the arrest of Saudi women who led the campaign to let women drive (a long-overdue reform for which MBS claimed credit), and the temporary kidnapping of Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad al-Hariri, whom MBS saw as too close to Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, now Lebanon’s leading political force.
Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst who advised four presidents and is now at the Brookings Institution, called Khashoggi’s disappearance consistent with the pattern of “crude intimidation” and the growing silencing of dissent in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has a long history of abducting critics from abroad, and MBS has doubled down on such intimidation. Last year, his police conducted raids and supervised the mass detention and torture of wealthy Saudis in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Given America’s silence about the extortion of detainees’ funds to secure their release, MBS must be confident that the Trump administration “will do nothing about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia,” Riedel wrote, adding, “He is probably right.” So far, other than expressing “concern” about Khashoggi’s fate, the Trump administration has said little. “There are some pretty bad stories going around,” the president said Monday. “I do not like it.” That’s not good enough.
On his first foreign trip, President Trump went to Riyadh, in an effort to improve relations with the kingdom. Among other things, as MBS told Bloomberg, the visit prompted Riyadh to commit to buying more than 60 percent of its weapons in the next decade from Washington. “I love working with him,” MBS said about his relationship with Trump and their joint battle against the Islamic State and other Islamist militants who endorse terrorism. The prince also confirmed reports that Trump had asked Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members to pump enough oil to ensure that the reduction of Iran’s oil exports of 700,000 barrels a day would not lead to a surge in oil prices. Such gestures forge stronger economic and strategic ties.
But even hard-nosed pragmatists, like Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations, have urged the White House to denounce the prince should it be established that Khashoggi has, in fact, been murdered. “In failing to call MBS out on just about anything, particularly repression at home,” Miller tweeted, the administration “has emboldened him and given him [the] sense he can do anything.”
Silence will not serve the long-term interests of either the prince or the Saudi kingdom. Khashoggi is just the kind of Saudi from whom MBS needs to hear. A former Muslim Brotherhood member who befriended Osama bin Laden but later condemned his violence, Khashoggi became a leading proponent for Arab reform—some of the same reforms, in fact, that MBS has spearheaded as part of his Vision 2030 campaign for the kingdom. But MBS’s ostensible reforms will come to naught, unless he learns to be more tolerant of dissent and creates institutions that abide by the rule of law rather than respond to tribal whim and princely pique.
Washington Post columnist David Ignatius recently noted that his friend Khashoggi had endured a crisis of conscience last year when MBS was jailing and torturing his Saudi friends. “I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom. I worried about my family. I have made a different choice now,” Khashoggi wrote at the time, explaining his decision to flee the kingdom for America. “We Saudis deserve better.” So does he.
Pakistani Christian Woman Appeals Death Sentence for Insulting Prophet Mohammed
ISLAMABAD (AP) – A defence lawyer says Pakistan’s top court will hear the final appeal of a Christian woman who has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of insulting Islam’s Prophet Mohammad.
Asia Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook said Saturday the Supreme Court will take up her appeal on Monday.
Bibi’s first appeal was dismissed by a Lahore High Court in 2014, but the Supreme Court stayed her execution in 2015.
Her case is being closely watched internationally and nationally as a test of Pakistan’s tolerance for its minorities.
Bibi was arrested in 2009 after a quarrel with Muslim women and since then she has languished in prison. Pakistani Islamists have demanded her execution and two politicians, a governor and a minister of minorities, were killed in 2011 for supporting he
Koran 2:191 "slay the unbelievers wherever you find them" Koran 3:21 "Muslims must not take the infidels as friends" Koran 5:33 "Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam" Koran 8:12 "Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Koran" Koran 8:60 " Muslims must muster all weapons to terrorize the infidels" Koran 8:65 "The unbelievers are stupid, urge all Muslims to fight them" Koran 9:5 "When the opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you find them" Koran 9:123 "Make war on the infidels living in your neighborhood" Koran 22:19 "Punish the unbelievers with garments of fire, hooked iron rods, boiling water, melt their skin and bellies" Koran 47:4 "Do not hanker for peace with the infidels, behead them when you catch them".
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11/2001, said:
* We will take advantage of their immigration policy to infiltrate them.
* We will use their own welfare system to provide us with food, housing, schooling, and health care, while we out breed them and plot against them. We will Caliphate on their dime.
* We will use political correctness as a weapon. Anyone who criticizes us, we will take the opportunity to grandstand and curry favor from the media and Democrats and loudly accuse our critics of being an Islamophobe.
* We will use their own discrimination laws against them and slowly introduce Sharia Law into their culture..
DID DIRTY MUSLIM SAUDIS MONEY FINANCE THE BUSH, CLINTON AND OBAMA LIBRARIES?
“The tentacles of the Islamist hydra have deeply penetrated the world. The Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood poses a clear threat in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood also wages its deadly campaign through its dozens of well-established and functioning branches all over the world.”
“The Wahhabis finance thousands of madrassahs throughout the world where young boys are brainwashed into becoming fanatical foot-soldiers for the petrodollar-flush Saudis and other emirs of the Persian Gulf.” AMIL IMANI
Washington Post writer who fiercely criticized the Saudi government 'was tortured, murdered and cut into pieces inside his country's consulate in Istanbul', Turkish police claim
Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after appointment at Saudi Arabia's consulate
Turkish police believe Saudi journalist and critic Khashoggi was murdered
Khashoggi went to consulate to obtain documents but 'did not come back out'
Journalist lived in self-imposed exile in the U.S. and wrote for Washington Post
A regime-critical Saudi journalist who went missing after visiting his country's consulate in Istanbul was 'tortured, murdered and cut to pieces', Turkish police claim.
Jamal Khashoggi, 59, entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in the Turkish capital to obtain official documents for his upcoming wedding, and 'never came back out again'.
Turkish police believe Khashoggi was murdered inside the building, which Riyadh fiercely denies, instead claiming the journalist disappeared after leaving the consulate on Tuesday afternoon.
Turkish police believe Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, a government source said, but Riyadh denied the claim
Khashoggi, who has been a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies, was brutally tortured before he was murdered, a police source told Middle East Eye.
'Everything was videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country,' the source said.
Khashoggi had been a vocal critic of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies
Police said earlier that around 15 Saudis, including officials, arrived in Istanbul on two flights on Tuesday and were at the consulate at the same time as Khashoggi.
'Based on their initial findings, the police believe that the journalist was killed by a team especially sent to Istanbul and who left the same day,' a government source told AFP on Saturday....
Ankara announced on Saturday it had opened an official probe into his disappearance and are closely monitoring the Saudi Consulate and Istanbul's airports, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today.
Mr Erdogan said he is still hopeful that Mr Khashoggi is alive.
'God willing we will not be faced with the situation we do not desire,' he added, calling Mr Khashoggi a 'journalist and a friend'.
The journalist's Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said he had visited the consulate to receive an official document for their marriage
Khashoggi reportedly went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday, but never came back out again
Officials leave the Saudi Arabian Consulate following accusations that Khashoggi was murdered inside the building earlier this week
Saudi officials gather outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul today
Video playing bottom right...
Click here to expand to full page
The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted an unnamed official at the Istanbul consulate as denying the reports of Khashoggi's murder.
'The official strongly denounced these baseless allegations,' the agency wrote. It said a team of Saudi investigators were in Turkey working with local authorities.
Reacting to the news, the journalist's Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said on Twitter she was 'waiting for an official confirmation from the Turkish government to believe it'.
Mr Khashoggi had gone to the consulate to receive an official document for their marriage, with Ms Cengiz, 36, left waiting outside - but he never came back.
Officials seen leaving the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul on Sunday. A friend of the Saudi journalist said officials told him to 'make your funeral preparations'
In his newspaper columns for the Washington Post, Khashoggi has been critical of some policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen.
The former government adviser, who turns 60 on October 13, has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year to avoid possible arrest.
Writing in the Washington Post in February this year, he stated that 'writers like me, whose criticism is offered respectfully, seem to be considered more dangerous than the more strident Saudi opposition based in London'.
Turan Kislakci (right) head of Turkish-Arab Media Association talks to members of the media regarding his missing friend Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi
He also said that the campaign for the country to back the Crown Prince's 'Vision 2030'- the policies he hopes will usher in a more prosperous future - 'has sucked the oxygen from the once-limited but present public square'.
Fred Hiatt, the director of the Washington Post's editorial page, said if the reports were true 'it is a monstrous and unfathomable act'.
'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,' Hiatt said in a statement on the US newspaper's website.
Yasin Aktay, an official in Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who was close to the journalist, said Khashoggi had made an appointment in advance with the consulate and called to check the documents were ready.
Support: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 'God willing, we will not be faced with the situation we do not desire', and described Khashoggi as a friend
In his opinion articles, Khashoggi has been critical of some policies of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Riyadh's intervention in the war in Yemen
Friend of missing Saudi journalist confirms he was killed
'His friends had warned him, 'Don't go there, it is not safe,' but he said they could not do anything to him in Turkey,' said Aktay.
He added that he still hoped the reports of his friend's death were untrue.
Britain 'must stand up to Saudi Arabia', says shadow chancellor
Britain must stand up to Saudi Arabia after a journalist was allegedly murdered in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said.
Labour's Mr McDonnell told Sky News's Sophy Ridge on Sunday: 'If the information that's coming out is true, it is absolutely appalling. It's unacceptable.
'We, along with other nations now, should stand up to the Saudi government and make sure they know it is unacceptable, and if this means taking action in some form, we should take those actions.
'I've been on a number of demonstrations when the Saudi regime have sent representatives here because of human rights abuses and if this is another example of that, we've got to be much firmer.'
Prince Mohammed said in an interview published by Bloomberg on Friday that the journalist had left the consulate and Turkish authorities could search the building, which is Saudi sovereign territory.
'We are ready to welcome the Turkish government to go and search our premises,' he said. 'We have nothing to hide.'
Turkey's foreign ministry on Wednesday summoned Saudi Arabia's ambassador over the issue.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Riyadh give 'a full and credible account' of what happened to Khashoggi inside the consulate.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Twitter that if reports of his death were confirmed, 'this would constitute a horrific, utterly deplorable, and absolutely unacceptable assault on press freedom'.
OSCE media freedom representative Harlem Desir said on Twitter that he was 'shocked' by the claims.
'If confirmed, that's an unprecedented crime against journalists. I trust Turkey authorities will unveil details. Those responsible for this horrific crime must face justice,' Desir added.
A spokesperson for the US State Department said it could not confirm the reports but was 'closely following the situation'.
The British Foreign Office said in a statement it was 'working urgently' to verify the 'extremely serious' allegations.
The former government adviser, pictured outside the BBC in London, has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year to avoid possible arrest.
Ankara announced Saturday it had opened an official probe into Khashoggi's disappearance
Khashoggi fled from Saudi Arabia in September 2017, months after Prince Mohammed was appointed heir to the throne, amid a campaign that saw dozens of dissidents arrested including intellectuals and Islamic preachers.
The journalist said he had been banned from writing in the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper, owned by Saudi prince Khaled bin Sultan al-Saud, over his defence of the Muslim Brotherhood which Riyadh has blacklisted as a terrorist organisation.
He has also criticised Saudi Arabia's role in Yemen, where Riyadh leads a military coalition fighting alongside the government in its war with Iran-backed rebels.
Saudi Arabia, which ranks 169th out of 180 on RSF's World Press Freedom Index, has launched a modernisation campaign since Prince Mohammed's appointment as heir to the throne.
The ultra-conservative kingdom in June lifted a ban on women driving.
But it has drawn heavy criticism for its handling of dissent.
Khashoggi's criticism of Prince Mohammed's policies have appeared in both the Arab and Western press.
Iran Executes Kurdish Child Bride Days After Delivering Stillborn Child
Iranian authorities executed a former child bride this week on charges of murdering her abusive husband after she gave a false confession under torture, according to reports.
Zeinab Sekaanvand, 24, was 15 when she was forced to marry her husband. Soon into the relationship, Sekaanvand said that he started physically abusing her and his brother-in-law raped her. The family ignored her concerns.
Following his death in 2012, Sekaanvand was arrested on charges of stabbing him to death and confessed to his murder under torture. She later retracted the confession, saying she had been tortured and interrogated without access to a lawyer.
On Tuesday, two days after she delivered a child stillborn, she was sentenced to death by hanging at the Euromieh central prison, in the city of Urmiya in northern Iran. The execution was condemned by the likes of Amnesty International and the Head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission Michelle Bachelet.
“The execution of Zeinab Sekaanvand is a sickening demonstration of the Iranian authorities’ disregard for the principles of juvenile justice and international human rights law,” said Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Philip Luther. “Zeinab was just 17 years old at the time of her arrest. Her execution is profoundly unjust and shows the Iranian authorities’ contempt for the right of children to life. The fact that her death sentence followed a grossly unfair trial makes her execution even more outrageous.”
It appears the Iranian authorities are increasingly scheduling the execution of people who were children at the time of the crime at very short notice to minimize the possibility of effective public and private interventions. We are horrified by their continuous use of the death penalty against people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime, which is a violation of international human rights law. This is the fifth execution of a juvenile offender that we have recorded this year and we fear that it will not be the last unless urgent action is taken by the international community.
We continue to urge the Iranian authorities to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions, commute all death sentences with a view to abolishing the death penalty, and prohibit the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime.
Bachelet described the case as “deeply distressing” and called for an end of Iran’s use of the death penalty.
“The serious question marks over her conviction appear not to have been adequately addressed before she was executed,” she said. “The bottom line is that she was a juvenile at the time the offense was committed, and international law clearly prohibits the execution of juvenile offenders.”
According to estimates from human rights organizations, Iran executed more than 500 people, many on unproven charges that are often politically motivated, in the past year. Just last month, three Iranian Kurdish men – Zaniar Moradi, Loghman Moradi, and Ramin Hossein Panahi – were executed on murder charges after reportedly giving a confession under torture.
Follow Ben Kew on Facebook, Twitter at @ben_kew, or email him at email@example.com.
Regardless of what you may think of the death penalty, and Oct. 10's World Day against the Death Penalty, it's a very real awfulness for 2,320 brave death row prisoners in Iran. For this occasion, they issued a statement:
– While 176 prisoners were executed during the first half of 2018
– While the Iranian regime has executed prisoners despite repeated international calls, including three Kurdpolitical prisoners, Ramin Hossein Panahai, Zaniar Moradi and Loghman Moradi, to intimidate the public in fear of the spread of protests and the anger and frustration of the people;
– While the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet condemned the execution of juveniles;
– While Iranian truckers have been on strike since September 23 which has spread to more than 310 cities;
– While the government has threatened truck drivers to death and has arrested 250 truck drivers;
– While we are among the thousands of prisoners across Iran awaiting our death, and like Zaniar Moradi, who wrote before his death: "Nine years have passed. Nine years in which I languished in prison while being sentenced to the inhumane death sentence. During these long years... I dreamed of being hanged by the noose. I've spent these nine years thinking about the gallows and the noose and that they will hang around my neck... Every time a young person was hanged in this country, I felt as though it was my turn to be hanged ...
In recent years, these brave death row prisoners, in Iran, especially the political prisoners who are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care, are speaking out. In the central prison of Ardebil, or Orumeih, they remain especially active, despite threats and harassment. They are determined to continue their fight against despotism and make their legitimate demands incessantly. One of them is a man named Sohail Arabi. His picture is here:
He's an activist who has been imprisoned since November 2013. In prison, he's been outspoken against the atrocities there and was subjected to the most severe torture during these years in the Great Prison of Tehran. He tells his fellow inmates: "Do not ask me to be silent. At that moment, being silent is the greatest of betrayals."
Abloghasem Fouladvand is another human rights activist. He went on a hunger strike to support Iran's nationwide strike led by the truck-drivers as well as the general uprisings in recent months.
There are also political prisoners at Gohardasht Prison in western Tehran, in which political prisoner Mehdi Farahi Shandiz wrote, "The mercenaries cannot achieve their objectives by intimidating and harassing the political prisoners and human rights activists."
Mehdi Farahi Shandiz.
Another example is political activist Majid Asadi, who was detained without charge in Evin Prison's Ward 209 under the control of Iran's Intelligence Ministry since February 2017.
Majid Asadi, 34, a former student activist at Allameh Tabatabaie University in Tehran, was arrested by agents from an unknown Iranian agency without a warrant at his home in Karaj, west of Tehran, on Feb. 21, 2017.
Another resistant political prisoner is human rights-defender Atena Daemi, who recently sent out a letter from Evin Prison on May 25, 2018. In this letter, she condemned the death penalty, which is heavily utilized by the mullahs.
They are all known for their bravery in the face of the murderous mullah regime, which employs the death penalty at one of the highest rates on Earth.
Amnesty International said, "By detaining dozens of prisoners of conscience after grossly unfair trials, the Iranian authorities are already shamelessly flouting their human rights obligations. These are people who shouldn't even be behind bars in the first place, yet instead of being released from custody they are being punished further by being held in appalling conditions."
On Jan. 30, 2018, Amnesty International said it was outraged by reports that the Iranian authorities executed a young man who was only 15 years old at the time of the crime.
"By carrying out this unlawful execution, Iran is effectively declaring that it wishes to maintain the country's shameful status as one of the world's leading executers of those who were children at the time of their crime," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
In their statement, Iran's "Death Row Prisoners" continued to say:
– We request that the 40 years of execution, public execution and systematic killings be stopped in Iran. Currently executions have turned into an instrument in the hands of the authoritarian rulers of Iran to consolidate their rule and suppress the people. We consider the execution of prisoners as systematic killings carried out by the government. The gallows are not the solution to the Iranian people's problems.
– As prisoners who have faced death and execution throughout these years, we call on the families of all death row prisoners, political prisoners and all political and human rights activists to unify and become the voice for the annulment of the death sentence and to aid the people of Iranian in countering this historical calamity.
The report adds new detail to Khashoggi’s disappearance, directly implicating the crown prince, who is notably close to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Turkish authorities said they believed that Khashoggi, a former insider who grew increasingly critical of the Saudi royal family, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week and his body removed from the premises.
There was a detailed plan to entice Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, according to the Post, which cites intelligence documents outlined by U.S. officials. Crown Prince Mohammed reportedly offered Khashoggi government protection and a high-level job if he returned to the country, an offer the journalist was deeply skeptical of.
“He said: ‘Are you kidding? I don’t trust them one bit,’” Khaled Saffuri, who spoke with Khashoggi in May, recounted to the Post.
Officials in multiple countries said that if Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate last week, it may have been because a plan to capture the man went awry, the Post reported.
Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and said he left the consulate shortly after he entered last Tuesday. The only available CCTV footage appears to show him entering the building but not leaving.
On Tuesday, The New York Times first reported that Turkish officials believed Khashoggi was assassinated under orders from senior members of the Saudi royal court. Those unnamed officials said they believed the operation was carried out by a squad of 15 people flown into Turkey on two charter flights ― something that could only have been ordered by the country’s leadership due to its complexity and risk.
Turkish officials said the event reminded them of the film “Pulp Fiction,” and said one of the men wielded a bone saw they suspect was used to dismember the journalist’s body.
As public pressure mounts on the Trump administration to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the US defense industry is alarmed while critics of the Yemen war hope for the best.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist living in Turkey who wrote for the Washington Post, was last seen entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul last Friday. Turkey claims he was murdered by Saudi assassins, which Riyadh has denied.
Several major US weapons manufacturers have expressed concern to the White House about proposals to block further arms sales to the Saudis over the Khashoggi case, Reuters reported on Friday citing anonymous US officials.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) has already suggested freezing the sale of US weapons to Riyadh until the Khashoggi case is resolved. President Donald Trump has so far remained unconvinced.
“They’re spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs ... for this country. I don’t like the concept of stopping an investment of $110 billion into the United States, because you know what they’re going to do? They’re going to take that money and spend it in Russia or China or someplace else,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
If it turns out that Khashoggi was abducted and killed on orders of the Saudi government, “it will destroy the relationship as we know it,”Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) told Fox News on Friday. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) had said the day before that such a turn of events would “hugely change our relationship.”
Corker and Graham were among the 22 senators that sent Trump a letter earlier this week, demanding a US probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Act. The White House is now obligated to provide a report within 120 days, including recommendations for sanctions against those responsible.
Washington, DC lobbyists The Harbour Group announced on Friday they will be ending their $80,000 a month contract with the Saudi Embassy, CNN reported. The Saudi ambassador to Washington, brother of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, reportedly returned to Riyadh for consultations earlier this week.
Though a number of US-based companies have chosen to withdraw from the upcoming Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is still going. The desert kingdom has “been a very good partner,” he told CNBC on Friday.
Though the missing journalist is not an American citizen, he did write for the Washington Post - a newspaper beloved by the US political establishment and openly hostile to the Trump administration. Therefore, the Khashoggi affair has quickly grown into an internal US political issue, with some of Trump’s critics blaming it on the president’s “anti-press rhetoric.”
Critics of the Saudi war on Yemen have welcomed the newfound scrutiny of US support for the government in Riyadh, even if it took an unrelated case to bring it about. A Saudi-led coalition invaded Yemen in 2015, on behalf of a pro-Riyadh president ousted by what they say are Iranian-backed rebels. The war has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and widespread civilian suffering.
Saudi Arabia has bombed and starved Yemen and caused a cholera outbreak. But US and UK kept selling weapons. Now the disappearance of #JamalKhashoggi has embarrassed them. One death has more impact than the deaths of thousands.
.@RepRoKhanna of California on the U.S. selling weapons to Saudi Arabia to use in Yemen: "I don't think there's a single American citizen who would say that we should be aiding the Saudis in killing women and children for $100 billion, that that's a price worth paying." #DNlivepic.twitter.com/srDQBqNeTr
#Trump defends continuing arms sales to #Saudi regime, despite Kashoggi murder, citing defense industry jobs that would be lost. That implies all those wars in Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa have to continue to keep those arms contractors healthy. https://ti.me/2A6taH2
As we all focus on Saudi Arabia this week, let's not forget that they were one of the biggest contributors to Cindy & John McCain's "humanitarian foundation" at the same time as he was instrumental in blessing them with more U.S. weapons