U.S. investigators working with Saudis, Turkey on missing journalist

Jamal Khashoggi's alleged murder in Saudi consulate in Turkey has put Trump administration in a delicate spot

Jamal Khashoggi's alleged murder in Saudi consulate in Turkey has put Trump administration in a delicate spot

A US intelligence source told the New York Times that USA intelligence had intercepted communications of Saudi agents discussing a plot to either capture or kill Khashoggi.

That same day, President Trump was asked about Khashoggi's disappearance and didn't have much to say apart from "I am concerned about it".

A Turkish official, speaking anonymously and without providing evidence, said earlier this week that Khashoggi, a Global Opinions section columnist for the Washington Post, was murdered inside the consulate, a claim the Saudi government has vehemently denied.

USA intelligence officials reportedly intercepted communications that the Saudis discussed a plan to lure and capture Khashoggi before his disappearance, a person familiar with the situation said in The Post.

Asked if US-Saudi ties were in jeopardy in light of the Khashoggi matter, Trump did not give a direct answer, saying, "I have to find out what happened. and we're probably getting closer than you might think".

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) reportedly spoke to a Saudi ambassador about viewing security video that would show whether or not Khashoggi left the consulate. No one has produced any such footage of Khashoggi leaving the consulate.

Corker says, "the Saudis have a lot of explaining to do because all indications are that they have been involved at minimum with his disappearance".

US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Khashoggi before he vanished, according to the Post, which cited two people familiar with the information.

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A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Mr Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the USA and writing opinion pieces for the Washington Post before his disappearance.

The identity and the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services are now known to the Turkish officials. This could lead to sanctions against Saudi Arabia within 120 days.

Surveillance footage from outside the consulate shows Mr Khashoggi entering the consulate on October 2.

Britain is a close ally and trade partner of Saudi Arabia. Connecticut's Democrat Senator Chris Murphy said it would be time for the U.S. to rethink its relationship with Saudi Arabia if it turned out Khashoggi was lured to his death by the Saudis.

The Saudi government maintains that they had nothing to do with Khashoggi's disappearance, and that the journalist left the consulate soon after he got there. They said at the weekend they believed Mr Khashoggi was killed by a team sent to Istanbul and thought to consist of 15 Saudis.

"It's not intended though as a shot at them, it's meant to put in place.it's the forcing mechanism to ensure that we use all the resources available to get the bottom of this and if in fact at the very highest levels of Saudi Arabia they have been involved in doing this, that appropriate steps will be taken to sanction them", Corker added.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Bloomberg News in an interview last week that Khashoggi had left the consulate shortly after entering it last week and that he was ready to let Turkey to search the building.

He added, "The Saudis continue to claim that they aren't targeting civilians inside Yemen, but how can we believe them when they apparently just hunted down and murdered an American resident whose only offense was writing critical articles about the Saudi royal family?" The administration's Middle East agenda heavily depends on the Saudis, including efforts to counter Iranian influence in the region, fight extremism and build support for its yet-to-be-released plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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