Police in Turkey investigating the October 2 disappearance and reported murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi are combing the Belgrad Forest, a 21-square-mile wooded area about 12 miles north of Istanbul, in their search for Khashoggi's remains, media reports out of the Middle East said on Thursday morning.
After poring over footage from more than 150 surveillance cameras placed throughout Istanbul, forensic investigators have figured out the locations of 14 vehicles entering the grounds of the Saudi Arabian consulate on October 2, according to a report by the London-based Mideast news source Middle East Eye. According to the MEE report, the surveillance footage revealed that sometime after the 14 vehicles entered the compound, a single black van emerged.
The van appears especially suspicious because, MEE reported, "a few minutes after leaving the parking lot the van's GPRS system was torn out and discarded on the road." But by piecing together the security footage from multiple cameras, police traced the van's trip through the city to the Belgrad Forest and back into Istanbul.
As Inquisitr has covered, the 60-year-old Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on October 2 to complete some routine paperwork — but he never came out. Reports say that audio recordings from inside the consulate reveal that a team of 15 Saudi assassins tortured and killed Khashoggi, dismembering him while he was still alive and finally cutting off his head as the killers listened to music through earphones.
Returning Thursday from a diplomatic trip to the Middle East, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Donald Trump at the White House and advised Trump to allow Saudi Arabia "a few more days" to finish their own "investigation" into Khashoggi's disappearance, according to an MSNBC report.
Speaking to the media, Pompeo said that in his meetings with top Saudi officials, they "made clear to me that they too understand the serious nature" of the Khashoggi disappearance, The Washington Post reported.
But questions remain about the credibility of any Saudi-run investigation into Khashoggi's fate, as U.S. intelligence agencies now believe that Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is himself "culpable" for the disappearance and possible slaying of one of his most prominent critics, according to a Tuesday New York Times report.
According to an Associated Press report, Turkish police have found what one source termed "certain evidence" that Khashoggi was killed inside the Istanbul Saudi consulate, but Trump has dismissed reports that the Saudi Arabian government was behind Khashoggi's disappearance as a case of "guilty until proven innocent."