One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi is Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a frequent companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — seen disembarking from airplanes with him in Paris and Madrid and photographed standing guard during his visits this year to Houston, Boston and the United Nations, the New York Times reported on Oct. 16, 2018.
Mr. Khashoggi, a 60-year-old Saudi dissident, and US resident, visited the consulate on 2 October to obtain papers needed to get married.
Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb is seen walking past police barricades at the consulate at 9.55am with several men trailing behind him.
Mr Khashoggi arrived at the consulate several hours later at 1.14pm, then disappeared while his fiancee waited outside for him.
He has not been seen since and is widely suspected to have been tortured, murdered and dismembered for his opposition to the Riyadh regime.
Accordingto sources in Turkey, a Saudi team immediately grabbed the journalist after he entered the consulate, cutting off his fingers and later decapitating him.
It is also claimed his remains were dissolved in chemical acid, possibly at the consul general’s house.
Previously leaked surveillance footage showed consular vehicles moving from the consulate to the consul general’s official residence, just over a mile away.
The initial response from the Gulf kingdom has called the allegations “baseless”.
Back in 2007, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi embassy in London, according to British diplomatic roster.
The Times said three other suspects are Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hawsawi — a member of the security team that travels with Prince Mohammed — Thaar Ghaleb al-Harbi, and Muhammed Saad Alzahrani. Harbi and Alzahrani have the same names as two people who have been identified as members of the Saudi Royal Guard, the Times said. The fifth suspect is an autopsy expert, Salah al-Tubaigy, who the Times said identified himself on his Twitter account as the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics.
He also held high positions in the Interior Ministry and the kingdom’s top medical school, the report said.
On Monday, CNN cited two sources as saying the Saudis are preparing a report that Khashoggi’s death resulted from a botched interrogation, while The Wall Street Journal said the kingdom was weighing whether to say that rogue operatives killed Khashoggi by mistake.
According to the report, three others are linked by witnesses and other records to the Saudi crown prince’s security detail.
A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, a figure of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority.
The New York Times has confirmed independently that at least nine of 15 suspects identified by Turkish authorities worked for the Saudi security services, military or other government ministries. One of them, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, was a diplomat assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007, according to a British diplomatic roster. He traveled extensively with the crown prince, perhaps as a bodyguard.
The Turkish government has been leaking details in the domestic press that suggest that a 15-member hit team from Saudi Arabia, including Mr. Mutreb, assassinated Mr. Khashoggi inside the consulate, severing his fingers and decapitating and dismembering him.
Earlier today, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saudi Arabia promised to ensure a thorough probe and accountability over the missing Saudi journalist but stood by denials the kingdom killed him.
Mr. Pompeo, a former director of the C.I.A., referred to Mr. Khashoggi’s “disappearance” despite reports from American intelligence agencies, which are increasingly convinced that Mr. Khashoggi was killed.
President Donald Trump dispatched Pompeo on an urgent mission to Riyadh to defuse a crisis over Khashoggi.
After a full day of talks, a statement from Pompeo and a tweet by Trump said that the Saudi leadership “strongly denied knowledge of what took place” in the consulate, without outright rejecting that an incident occurred.
US President Donald Trump denied on Wednesday he was giving “cover” to his main Middle East ally but has said “we need to know all the facts” before deciding on any action.
A few minutes ago, President Trump said that he believes the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, and he expressed confidence in intelligence reports from multiple sources that strongly suggest a high-level Saudi role in Mr. Khashoggi’s assassination.
Mr. Trump stopped short of saying the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death. But the president acknowledged that the allegations that the prince ordered the killing raised deep questions about the American alliance with Saudi Arabia and had ignited one of the most serious foreign policy crises of his presidency.
“This one has caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately,” Mr. Trump said to reporters from The New York Times in a brief interview in the Oval Office. “It’s not a positive. Not a positive.”
“Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he’s dead,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s based on everything — intelligence coming from every side.”
Officials in Turkey, where Pompeo heads on Oct. 17, say that the Saudis killed Khashoggi inside the consulate. The Saudis earlier insisted, without evidence, that Khashoggi left freely while later reportedly hinted that rogue elements could be responsible — a theory that Trump has mused about aloud.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Pompeo at Ankara’s Esenboğa airport on Oct. 17.
The meeting, who was also attended by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and National Intelligence Agency (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, took 40 minutes.
– New York Times I Hurriyet Daily News