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Melted in Acid? Gruesome Allegations About Khashoggi Disappearance, Ties to Crown Prince's Security Team

10-17-2018
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New reporting overnight could escalate a diplomatic crisis between the US and Saudi Arabia.

Published reports are now connecting the Saudi royal family to the suspects in the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

A pro-government Turkish newspaper published a gruesome account of the alleged murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, showing the writer was dismembered before he was killed, and his remains may have been melted in acid.

The Saudi consul general reportedly is heard on tape saying, "Do this outside; you're going to get me in trouble."
 
He was told, "Shut up if you want to live."

And a New York Times report says three of the suspects in the alleged Saudi "hit squad" served as part of the Crown Prince's security team.

Hours later, The Washington Post published a column by Khashoggi it said it received after he was reported missing. In the article,  Khashoggi calls out the international community's silence when it comes to how the Arab world treats dissenting journalists.  

"As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate," Khashoggi wrote. He added: "The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power."
                
President Trump, who earlier warned of "severe punishment" if the kingdom was found responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance, warned against rushing to conclusions:

"It depends if the king or crown prince knew about it, in my opinion," Trump said, "Number one, what happened? But, whether or not they knew about it. If they knew about it, that would be bad."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey Wednesday after holding talks with Saudi leaders in Riyadh. He said, "Each of those meetings, I stressed the importance of them conducting a complete investigation of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and they made a commitment, they said they would do that."

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC), a longtime Saudi supporter, warned of a serious problem in the US-Saudi relationship if the royal family was involved.

"He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey and for me to ignore it, I feel used and abused," Graham told Fox and Friends. "I know what I'm going to do and I'm going to sanction the hell out of Saudi."

But some experts do not expect a serious breach in US-Saudi relations even if the royal family is held responsible, because with Iran expanding its influence in the region, there's too much at stake.

The United States is supporting Saudi Arabia in its military efforts against Iranian backed Houthi rebels inside Yemen and so it's a very complex picture," said Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation. "Certainly the Russians and Chinese would like to take advantage of any conflict between Washington and Riyadh.

That's one reason some expect Washington to try to help Saudi Arabia find a way out of the political mess it faces over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. 

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