ANALYSIS: Who ordered assassination of Saudi journalist?

Saudi Crown Prince has a good deal of explaining to do to President Trump regarding mysterious death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Yochanan Visser,

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva.

The disappearance and possible assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey continues to make headlines and could have serious repercussions for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s future as leader of Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi, 59, was living in self-imposed exile in the United States because he feared his life was in danger after he wrote critical articles about the House of Saud and Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) in particular.

This week, more gruesome details on what seemed to be a carefully planned and horrible assassination by the Saudi government were revealed, indicating MBS was heavily involved in the operation on Turkish soil.

As we reported on October 12,th the Saudi team which allegedly assassinated Khashoggi and dismembered his body in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul included two bodyguards of the Saudi Crown Prince.

The two have now been identified as Abdulaziz Mohammed al Hawsawi and Muhammed Saad Alzahrani, both members of MBS’ security detail.

On Thursday, the Turkish paper Sabah published a report which included stills from a CCTV video taken at the entrance of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showing a Saudi official who entered the consulate more than three hours before Khashoggi arrived.

The man, Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, was also seen in the entourage of MBS during his recent month-long trip to the United States and his trip to France and the United Kingdom.

Mutrib had been identified by Turkish intelligence as being a member of the 15-man-strong- team which arrived in Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared.

Another member of the Saudi team, Mashal Saad al-Bostani, a 31-year-old lieutenant of Saudi Arabia’s air force, died this week in a “suspicious car accident” in the Saudi capital Riyadh according to the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak.

Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist for the Turkish paper Hürriyet, furthermore, claimed Mohammad al-Otaibi, the Saudi consul in Istanbul, could be the subject of “the next execution” by MBS, since he objected to the assassination of Khashoggi in the consulate.

Al-Otaibi reportedly told the assassins to “do it somewhere else outside or I will be in trouble.”

They then warned him: “Shut up if you want to live when you are back in Saudi Arabia, be quiet.”

The Saudi diplomat returned to Saudi Arabia before his residence was searched by Turkish investigators this week.

During the investigation in both the Saudi consulate and the consul’s residence in Istanbul, Turkish investigators found evidence of a cover-up operation after Khashoggi disappeared, but also found new evidence indicating the journalist was murdered there.

Some walls and furniture had been recently painted and traces of a “very fast acting chemical acid” were found in the consulate, according to Sky News.

The discovery of the traces suggests the body of the Saudi journalist may have been dissolved by the acid after which his remains were flushed through the toilet.

Turkish investigators earlier claimed they had found forensic evidence of the murder in the sewage system of the Saudi consulate.

Yeni Şafak, which obtained the audio recording of Khashoggi's assassination, also reported the Saudi journalist was tortured by cutting off his fingers before he died by decapitation.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) spoke to unnamed Turkish officials who seemed to confirm the Yeni Şafak report.

WSJ reported Khashoggi was beaten up and drugged before being killed and dismembered.

The Trump Administration has now requested Turkey hand over the audio and video evidence of Khashoggi’s murder.

President Trump told reporters he had asked for the tapes - ‘if they exist’.

“We have asked for it if it exists. We have asked," Trump said, while adding. "I'm not sure yet that it exists. It probably does. Possibly does."

The President this week dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia and Turkey where he talked to MBS and Turkish president Erdogan about Khashoggi's disappearance.

In Saudi Arabia, Pompeo told the Saudi Crown Prince that “every fact is going to get out,” while urging MBS to “own up” to the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi “even if he didn’t know it beforehand.”

MBS’ future as King of Saudi Arabia would be dependent on how he handles the situation, warned the former CIA director.

Pompeo told MBS the US would take action “because the world would demand it.”

Coincidence or not, on the same day that Pompeo warned MBS to come clean on Khashoggi’s assassination, the Kingdom transferred $100 million to the United States.

The money, destined to support US efforts to stabilize Syria, was already pledged in August, and the sudden payment raised eyebrows in Washington although the US envoy for the war against ISIS said the transfer had nothing to do with Pompeo’s visit.

Trump himself indicated that for him it’s important to know if MBS and his ailing father King Salman had any knowledge about what happened in the Saudi Consulate on Oct.2, despite the fact that US intelligence agencies have become “increasingly convinced” that it was MBS who ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.

The President also made it clear that he doesn’t want to scupper a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia because of the assassination of Khashoggi.

The Saudi Crown Prince, meanwhile, continues to deny any involvement in Khashoggi’s assassination and hasn’t addressed the issue in the past few days.

However, MBS has a track record of reckless behavior towards opponents and people who criticize him.

He has ordered the detention of members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia and organized a crackdown on influential people who he said had plundered state funds.

He detained Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri while he visited the Kingdom and forced him to submit his resignation from Riyadh.

MBS, furthermore, instigated a conflict with Canada and imposed a blockade on Qatar. He is also blamed for the crisis in Yemen which exacerbated after a Saudi-led coalition of Muslim countries intervened in the civil war there.