Turkey and Saudi Arabia are progressing with their parallel investigations into the Oct. 2 disappearance of Saudi journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkey says it has evidence a 15-man Saudi death squad killed and dismembered Khashoggi inside the consulate, and a Turkish official told The Associated Press on Friday that authorities are looking into the possibility that the Saudis buried Khashoggi's remains in the nearby Belgrade Forest or the city of Yalova, where consulate vehicles traveled separately on Oct. 2. CNN reports that Turkish intelligence agents searched one of the two Saudi chartered jets that carried the 15 Saudis to and from Istanbul, and it did not appear to contain anything suspicious.
There's speculation that only a Saudi ruler could order a 15-man hit squad to murder a U.S. resident inside a Saudi consulate, but the Saudis "are considering blaming a top intelligence official close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi," The New York Times reported Thursday, citing three people with knowledge of the Saudi plans. "The plan to assign blame to Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, would be an extraordinary recognition of the magnitude of international backlash to hit the kingdom," and it would make it "technically plausible" that the crown prince didn't ordered the killing.
"The Saudi rulers are expected to say that General Assiri received oral authorization from Prince Mohammed to capture Mr. Khashoggi for an interrogation in Saudi Arabia, but either misunderstood his instructions or overstepped that authorization and took the dissident's life," two people told the Times. "People close to the White House have already been briefed and given General Assiri's name." Peter Weber