Saudi Arabia Diplomat 'Pivotal' In Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Has Close Ties To Crown Prince

CNN reports that the Turkish investigation into the disappearance and apparent death of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist, has uncovered a new wrinkle. A former Saudi diplomat and current intelligence officer who is closely linked to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played an important role in the alleged killing.

Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb is a colonel in Saudi intelligence and served as the first secretary at the Saudi embassy in London. Mutreb also worked within an "elite protection brigade" within the Royal Guard, serving as part of the Prince's personal security force.

Mutreb accompanied bin Salman to the U.S. when the crown prince visited earlier this year.

Officials in Turkey say that Mutreb is one of the 15 men who were part of the hit squad that allegedly tortured and killed Jamal Khashoggi. Many inhumane acts were reportedly committed to Khashoggi. His fingers were broken, his body was mutilated, and his head was cut off, according to various reports.

The investigation in Turkey is ongoing, as investigators are now hunting woodlands and farmlands to locate Khashoggi's body.

Turkish media outlets have published pictures that allegedly show Mutreb in Istanbul on October 2, the day that Khashoggi disappeared. Reports say that the images show Mutreb in several key locations throughout the day. The first shows Mutreb arriving at the Saudi consulate at 9:55 am, according to Business Insider. Another image, this one taken at 4:53 pm, shows him in front of the consul general's residence.

Investigators in Turkey have already extensively searched both these locations, and samples they obtained from each have been sent for DNA testing.

Another image reportedly shows Mutreb arriving at the Istanbul airport at 5:58 pm, just before a private aircraft lifted off from here.

Saudi Arabia has denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi and categorically denies having any part in his disappearance and presumed death. Initially, the Saudi royal family said that Khashoggi left the consulate safely by a back door. Later, they suggested that he was killed by rogue agents, an opinion Donald Trump repeated earlier this week.

If the surveillance images are proven to be photographs of Mutreb, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will have a more difficult time denying a link to the death of Jamal Khashoggi.

Harder still to deny is Dr. Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, a Saudi forensics expert who has appeared in several media reports because of his work. He has been identified in surveillance footage as well, and his voice can allegedly be heard in the audio recording of the killing that Turkish officials have stated they have.

Also on the hit squad, according to The Guardian, are members of the security team that protects the Saudi royal family, including a major general in the Prince's special security force, and multiple members of the royal guard, including a lieutenant.
It has been widely reported that Saudi Arabia plans to release a statement explaining that Khashoggi was killed accidentally during an interrogation that was not sanctioned by the royal family.

In the wake of all the evidence that has come pouring forth, Saudi Arabia is facing a significant challenge to explain all these elements.