Jamal Khashoggi’s sons and other family members were brought to the Saudi palace to accept condolences from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — even though Crown Prince Mohammed is alleged to have ordered the journalist’s murder.
Salah and Sahel Khashoggi were invited to the Yamama Palace in Riyadh to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed and the Saudi king, with photos showing a handshake between Khashoggi’s son and the Crown Prince. The meeting came as Saudi Arabia admitted that its agents were responsible for the death of the Washington Post journalist, despite initial denials that it had anything to do with his murder. As NBC News reported, Turkish authorities say they have evidence that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the building, though Saudi officials claimed that he died during a fight.
As The Guardian reported, a former MI6 intelligence officer said all evidence points to Crown Prince Mohammed ordering Khashoggi’s murder. The Mirror reported that Khashoggi’s severed fingers were taken to the Crown Prince for proof of his killing, and the Observer reported that Turkish investigators intercepted communications from the team sent to kill Khashoggi. The report claimed that Saud al-Qahtani, a top adviser to Bin Salman, called into the room where Khashoggi was killed and instructed them to “bring me the head of the dog.”
The palace meeting on Tuesday came as Crown Prince Mohammed faces growing international pressure over Khashoggi’s death.
“The absolute monarchy is a longtime U.S. ally and considered a bulwark against Iran, but the crisis over Khashoggi’s death has helped crystallize growing unease about the 33-year-old crown prince, the country’s de facto ruler,” the NBC News report noted.
Spare a thought for Khashoggi's son, banned from leaving Saudi Arabia, who had to go and do this today pic.twitter.com/HyTA896LwF— Tom Gara (@tomgara) October 23, 2018
That includes U.S. President Donald Trump, who after initially saying he found the Saudi explanation that Khashoggi died during a “fist fight” to be “credible” has since turned against the Saudis. As the BBC noted, Trump called the Saudi excuses the “worse cover-up ever” and said he expects a CIA report on Khashoggi’s killing to be completed shortly.
Some lawmakers have called for strict sanctions against Saudi Arabia, though Donald Trump has expressed reluctance to do so. While Trump said on Tuesday he believed the Saudis should face consequences, he has taken off the table the idea of blocking a planned arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia had previously said it did not know the whereabouts of Jamal Khashoggi’s body, but reports on Tuesday indicated that it had been found. As the Mirror reported, the Washington Post journalist’s face was “disfigured” and his body dismembered.