Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Treading softly, the United States is asking its major ally Saudi Arabia to investigate the odd disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an avowed and vocal foe of the Saud family that rules the country.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the government of Saudi Arabia “to support a thorough investigation of Khashoggi’s disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation.”
The U.S. Department of State said its senior officials have spoken with Saudi Arabia through diplomatic channels about this matter.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, went into self-exile last year citing threats to his life from the Saudi royal family.
Citing Turkish authorities, The New York Times yesterday made the horrific claim Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad consisting of 15 men on orders of someone in the royal family. Turkish authorities confirmed that 15 Saudi nationals entered Turkey the same day Khashoggi was reported missing.
Khashoggi, 59, was likely tortured then murdered at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey some time after Oct. 2 when he entered the consulate. His corpse was allegedly cut to pieces and smuggled out of Turkey protected by diplomatic immunity.
The plot to murder Khashoggi might also involve Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who Khashoggi repeatedly criticized over the past year prior to his disappearance. Khashoggi has repeatedly lambasted the prince’s reforms as hollow. He also accused the prince of introducing a new era of “fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming.”
The Times claims the Saudi assassins tortured Khashoggi for several days inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Citing unidentified American senior officials, the Times said among the assassination team was a forensic expert who used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body
The hit squad finished the murder operation inside two hours and departed Turkey the same day, according to information the Times received from Turkish sources.
Saudi officials strongly denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. They claim he left the consulate on the same day he entered it. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded Saudi Arabia prove Khashoggi’s departure from the building, which isn’t verified by video.
The Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman, denies the claims the royal family has anything to do with Khashoggi’s disappearance.
The prince said it is “absolutely false, and baseless,” to accuse the kingdom of killing or detaining Khashoggi. The prince emphasized Saudi Arabia is taking “extraordinary” measures to locate Khashoggi, “just as we would if it were any other Saudi citizen.”
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