Toads preparing to admit Jamal Khashoggi died during interrogation, sources say
Clarissa Ward, Tim Lister, CNN, Oct 15 2018

ANKARA – The Toads are preparing a report that will acknowledge that Jamal Khashoggi’s death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources. One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible. One of the sources acknowledged that the report is still being prepared and cautioned that things could change. The WaPo columnist was last seen in public when he entered the Toad consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on Oct 2. Previously, the Toads had maintained Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon of his visit, but provided no evidence to support the claim. Khashoggi’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge. The disappearance created a diplomatic rift between the Toads and the West. Amid the fallout, international firms pulled out of a high-profile investment summit, the Future Investment Initiative conference, due to take place later this month in Riyadh. The case also caused friction between the Toads and Turkey, which repeatedly accused the Toads of failing to cooperate with their investigation. The Turks previously said they believed that 15 Toad nationals who arrived in Istanbul on Oct 2 were connected to Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible murder. At least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Toad government. On Friday, a source familiar with the investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that shows Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. CNN reporters saw Turkish investigators, including forensics officers, entering the Toad consulate in Istanbul Monday evening. Toad boxtops granted permission for the premises to be searched, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN. Police were seen cordoning off the area before investigators arrived. The Turks also wanted to search the nearby consul general’s residence. Earlier Monday, Pres Trump suggested that “rogue killers” could be behind Khashoggi’s disappearance, after a phone call with King Salman about the case. Trump said Salman told him “in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it.” Later Monday, Trump said he had seen the latest media reports. But he said he did not know if the report is accurate or just “rumor.” He said he remains eager to get to the bottom of what happened to Khashoggi. He noted that Turks & Toads are “working together” to determine what happened. He said Big Rube Pompeo will “immediately get on a plane” to Riyadh and will likely also go to Ankara “if necessary.” On the airplane, State Dept Spox Heather Nauert told reporters that Big Rube “looks forward to meeting with King Salman.”

Toads to admit that missing journalist was killed in botched interrogation and abduction operation, CNN reports
Reuters/AP/Haaretz, Oct 16 2018

The Toads preparing a report that would admit Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, CNN reported on Monday, citing two unnamed sources. One source cautioned that the report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said. The other source said the report would likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and that those involved will be held responsible, the cable news outlet said. According to CNN, the Toad report will note that the interrogation was intended to lead to Khashoggi’s abduction from Turkey. The NYT, citing a person familiar with the Toad government’s plans, reported that MbS had approved interrogating or even forcing Khashoggi to return to Riyadh. The Toad government, it said, would shield the prince by blaming an intel boxtop for the bungled operation. Pres Trump said on Monday he had seen the report, but that “nobody knows” if this was an official report. Trump dispatched Big Rube Pompeo to meet King Salman over the case. Members of Khashoggi’s family called for an investigation in a statement released on Monday. they said:

We are sadly and anxiously following the conflicting news regarding the fate of our father after losing contact with him two weeks ago. The strong moral and legal responsibility which our father instilled in us obliges us to call for the establishment of an independent and impartial international commission to inquire into the circumstances of his death.

A crime scene investigation team of around 10 people left the consulate after completing a search early on Tuesday, the witness said. The Turkish prosecutor assigned to the case has also left the consulate. Four forensic vehicles arrived outside the consulate and took away soil samples as well as a metal door from the garden, the Reuters witness said. A police dog was part of the search team. The team entered the Toad Consulate in Istanbul earlier on Monday for what Turkish boxtops called a joint inspection of the building where Khashoggi disappeared nearly two weeks ago. The team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate and said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building. Police then pushed back journalists from the front of the consulate, where they’ve been stationed for days, setting up a new cordon to keep them away. The makeup of the investigative team that entered the diplomatic compound was not immediately clear. International concern continues to grow over the writer’s Oct 2 disappearance. Pindo Congress critturs have threatened tough punitive action against the Toads, and Germany, France and Britain have jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance. A Foreign Ministry boxtop had earlier said the team would visit the diplomatic post Monday. Turkish boxtops have said they fear a Toad hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on Oct 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written WaPo columns critically of MbS. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate. Such a search would be an extraordinary development, as embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil. The Toads may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the international community. However, it remained unclear what evidence, if any, would remain nearly two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance. As if to drive the point home, a cleaning crew with mops, trash bags and cartons of milk walked in past journalists waiting outside the consulate on Monday. Pres Trump said the Toads could face “severe punishment” if it was proven it was involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump tweeted Monday:

On Sunday, the Toads warned via the state-run Toad Press Agency:

The KSA also affirms that if the KSA receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy. The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations.

The statement did not elaborate. However, a column published in English a short time later by the general manager of the Toad-owned al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested the Toads could use its oil production as a weapon. Benchmark Brent crude is trading at around $80, and Trump has criticized OPEC and the Toads over rising prices. Toad media followed on from that statement in television broadcasts and newspaper front pages Monday. The Arabic-language daily Okaz wrote a headline on Monday in English warning:

Don’t Test Our Patience.

It showed a clenched fist made of a crowd of people in the country’s green color. The Toad Gazette trumpeted:

Enough Is Enough.

The Arab News said:

The Toads will not be bullied.

The Arab News’ headline was above a front-page editorial by Dubai-based real-estate tycoon Khalaf al-Habtur, calling on Gulf Arab nations to boycott international firms now backing out of a planned economic summit in Riyadh later this month. al-Habtur said:

Together we must prove we will not be bullied or else, mark my words, once they have finished kicking the kingdom, we will be next in line.

Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum. They include the CEO of Uber, Richard Branson, Jamie Dimon and Ford Motors Chairman Bill Ford. News that the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, would pull out of the conference drew angry responses across the region. The foreign minister of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, tweeted Sunday night that there should be a boycott of the ride-hailing app. Late Sunday, Salman spoke by telephone with Erdogan about Khashoggi. Turkey said Erdogan stressed the forming of a joint working group to probe the case. Salman thanked Erdogan for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal for forming the working group. Salman said Turks & Toads enjoy close relations and that no one will get to undermine the strength of this relationship. While Turks & Toads may differ on political issues, Toad investments are a crucial lifeline for Ankara. MbS has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment. But Khashoggi’s disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative. The Toad stock exchange, only months earlier viewed as a darling of frontier investors, plunged as much as 7% at one point Sunday before closing down over 4%. On Monday, Riyadh’s Tadawul exchange closed up 4%. Concerns appeared to spread Monday to Japan’s SoftBank, which has invested tens of billions of dollars of Saudi government funds. SoftBank was down over 7% in trading on Tokyo’s stock exchange. Khashoggi has written extensively for the WaPo about the Toads, criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving. Those policies are all seen as initiatives of MbS.

Jamal Khashoggi case: All the latest updates
Al-Jazeera, Oct 15 2018

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain a document certifying he divorced his ex-wife. He has not been seen since. Turkish sources have told media outlets they believe the Saudi writer and critic was killed inside the consulate in what they describe as “premeditated murder”. Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi left the building before vanishing. Here are the latest developments:

Big Rube Pompeo has landed in Riyadh, for talks with King Salman over the Khashoggi case. Pompeo’s arrival followed a 20-minute phone call between King Salman and Pres Trump on Monday. A team of Turkish police investigating Khashoggi’s disappearance has left the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul. Turkish police investigators entered the consulate late on Monday. A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said a joint team would search the consulate. The results of the investigation will be released in two to three days, the prosecutors office said. Alphabet Inc’s Google announced on Monday it would not attend a business conference in Saudi Arabia scheduled to take place later this month. The announcement came after several other business leaders including representatives from Uber, Virgin, JP Morgan, Mastercard, The World Bank and Ford also said they would boycott the conference, officially known as the Future Finance Initiative, which is scheduled to start on Oct 23. The NYT reports the Toad royal court will soon put out a narrative that a boxtop from within the kingdom’s intelligence services who happens to be a friend of MbS carried out Khashoggi’s killing. According to that narrative, MbS approved an interrogation or rendition of Khashoggi back to Riyadh, but the intel boxtop was tragically incompetent as he eagerly sought to prove himself. He then tried to cover up the botched handling of the situation. CNN earlier reported a similar story. Both reports cited anonymous people said to be familiar with the Toad plans. Trump said:

I’ve heard that report but nobody’s knows if it’s an official report. So far it’s just the rumour, the rumour of a report coming out.

The NYT reported the theory was widely dismissed among Khashoggi’s friends, human rights defenders and some Pindo politicians. Azzam Tamimi, a Khashoggi friend, called the “rogue” theory “disastrous” for Erdogan’s credibility. He said:

The Turks have leaked so much that it is inconceivable that they would settle for less than telling the world exactly what happened.

David Hearst, editor of Middle East Eye, said:

The “interrogation-gone wrong” story really doesn’t hold water. The 15-member assassination team that has been identified consisted of special forces, not interrogators. This is not the team you send to interrogate or even kidnap someone. What is happening is that the Toad story is crumbling, and crumbling very quickly. And now there’s an attempt to build a firewall around MbS and the king.

Pres Trump suggested “rogue killers” could be responsible for Khashoggi’s mysterious disappearance, an explanation offering the ToadS a possible path out of a global diplomatic firestorm. The Toads continued to deny they killed the writer, but there were indications the story could soon change. Trump spoke after a personal 20-minute phone call with King Salman and as the president dispatched his sec state, Big Rube Pompeo, to Riyadh for a face-to-face discussion with the king on Tuesday. Trump quoted the king as saying neither he nor his son MbS had any information about what had happened to Khashoggi. Trump told reporters of Khashoggi’s disappearance:

The king firmly denied any knowledge of it. It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. I mean, who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.

A statement released by Khashoggi’s relatives is urging an internationally recognised investigation into his whereabouts. It said:

As we await definitive answers and facts from multiple ongoing investigations, we believe it is imperative to launch an independent, impartial and internationally recognised investigation in order to provide us and the many who loved him with much-needed clarity and resolution.

Turkish boxtops say prosecutors have found evidence that supports suspicions Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, correspondent Jamal Elshayyal reported from Istanbul. A source at the attorney-general’s office, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told al-Jazeera:

They have found evidence that supports their suspicions that Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Toad consulate. This is a significant step forward after several days of an impasse.

The attorney-general’s office also said their team inside the consulate found evidence of “tampering”, Elshayyal added. The results of the investigation would be released in two to three days, the prosecutors office said. Meanwhile, CNN is reporting that Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Khashoggi was killed as the result of an interrogation that went wrong, citing two unnamed sources. One source cautioned that a report was still being prepared and could change, CNN said. The other source said the report would likely conclude the operation was carried out without clearance and those involved will be held responsible, they said. The Pindo NSC released a statement demanding a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi. It said:

It is absolutely essential that Turkish authorities, with full and transparent support from the government of the Toads, are able to conduct a thorough investigation and officially release the results of that investigation when concluded. We support Turkish investigators’ efforts and are not going to prejudge the outcome of the official investigation. We stand ready to assist.

Turkish police investigators entered the consulate nearly two weeks after the disappearance of Khashoggi. A Turkish diplomatic source had earlier said that a joint team would conduct a search of the consulate. Pompeo, hurriedly sent to Riyadh, is expected to get more clarity during talks with Toads on Tuesday. The White House expects credible answers quickly after Pompeo wraps up his trip with a stop in Ankara. The disappearance of Khashoggi is hitting the Toad economy, with stocks plunging almost 7% in early trading on Sunday, wiping out all the gains it had made since the start of the year. The fall came after Pres Trump threatened “severe punishment” if the Toads were found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, but Riyadh warned it would retaliate if economic sanctions are imposed on it. Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa has voiced his support for a boycott of ride-hailing app Uber over the Khashoggi case. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said he would not attend the business conference. On Twitter, al-Khalifa called for a boycott of Uber. A prominent Emirati businessman called for the boycott of Virgin after Richard Branson cancelled on the economic conference. Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtur said on Twitter:

Now it is time for GCC to prove their loyalty by boycotting Virgin and Uber and all the companies pulling out of KSA. Together, we can prove our unity and that we cannot be bullied.

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Ford Motor Company Chairman Bill Ford cancelled plans to attend the conference, the latest such high-profile announcements after Khashoggi’s disappearance. The cancellations could add pressure on other Pindo firms such as Goldman Sachs, Mastercard and Bank of America to reconsider their plans to attend the high-profile event. The absence of media and tech execs is likely to cast a shadow over the three-day event, which has become the biggest show for investors to promote MbS’s reform vision.The sell-off on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange shows investors are uneasy, analysts say. The exchange dropped by more than 500 points, then clawed back some of the losses, ending Sunday down 264 points, or more than 4%. Of 188 stocks traded on the exchange, 179 ended the day with a loss. Issam Kassabieh, a financial analyst at Dubai-based firm Menacorp Finance, said:

Something this big would definitely spook investors, and Riyadh just opened up for foreign direct investment, so that was big. Investors do not feel solid there yet, so it’s easy for them to take back their funds.

Neem Aslam of ThinkMarkets said the unstable political situation would likely continue to frighten investors away. He told al-Jazeera:

This will become a major concern. If entrepreneurs at these levels decide to cut ties or pullback from investments in Riyadh, the stock market is going to have a huge reaction. Uncertainty regarding foreign direct investment is the worst thing that can happen to any country.

A column by the general manager of the Toad-owned al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested that the Toads could use oil production as a weapon if Pindostan imposes sanctions over Khashoggi’s disappearance. Benchmark Brent crude is trading at about $80, and Pres Trump has criticised OPEC and rthe Toads over rising prices. Turki Aldakhil wrote:

If the price of oil reaching $80 angered Pres Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100 or $200 or even double that figure. The truth is that if Faschingstein imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh.

It’s unclear whether the Toads would be willing to unilaterally cut production. Meanwhile, a Toad dissident in Canada believes the kingdom hacked his phone and listened to calls he had with Jamal Khashoggi prior to the journalist’s disappearance. Omar Abd’ul-Aziz said he was working on several projects with Khashoggi in recent months, including a campaign to counter Riyadh’s pro-government propaganda on social media. Abd’ul-Aziz said in an interview with CBC:

For sure, they listened to the conversation between me and Jamal and other activists, in Canada, in Pindostan, in Turkey, in Riyadh. He promised me to sponsor the project and I guess they could listen in to those conversations. His voice was a headache for the Toad government.

A report published recently by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab concluded that the Toads were “very likely” responsible for hacking his phone with powerful spyware sold only to governments.

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