UK intelligence was aware of the plan to murder Jamal Khashoggi three weeks before he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to unnamed intelligence sources cited by the Sunday Express.
Khashoggi’s close friend says that the journalist was investigating the Saudi usage of chemical weapons before his death.
According to the Sunday Express’ anonymous sources, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intercepted communications by the Kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate and discovered orders “member of the royal circle” to abduct the journalist and return him to Saudi Arabia.
The sources also said that the orders did not come directly from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and do not implicate him in any way.
Despite ordering to abduct and return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, the orders did not prohibit further actions if the journalist proved “troublesome.”
The intelligence source was cited by the Sunday Express:
“We were initially made aware that something was going in the first week of September, around three weeks before Mr Khashoggi walked into the consulate on October 2, though it took more time for other details to emerge. These details included primary orders to capture Mr Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning. However, the door seemed to be left open for alternative remedies to what was seen as a big problem. We know the orders came from a member of the royal circle but have no direct information to link them to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Whether this meant he was not the original issuer we cannot say.”
According to the anonymous sources, MI6 had warned their Saudi counterparts to abort the mission.
“On October 1 we became aware of the movement of a group, which included members of Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-‘Āmah (GID) to Istanbul, and it was pretty clear what their aim was. Through channels we warned that this was not a good idea. Subsequent events show that our warning was ignored.”
The Sunday Express also asked why the US intelligence was not alerted, the source replied:
“A decision was taken that we’d done what we could.”
The outlet further cited Tom Wilson, of the Henry Jackson Society think tank who shed some light on Jamal Khashoggi’s past.
“The misleading image that has been created of Jamal Khashoggi covers up more than it reveals. As an insider to the Saudi regime, Khashoggi had also been close to the former head of the intelligence agency. He was an Islamist, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and someone who befriended Osama Bin Laden and had been sympathetic to his Jihad in Afghanistan. All of these connections are being hidden by a simplistic narrative that Jamal Khashoggi was just a progressive freedom fighting journalist. It isn’t plausible that he was murdered simply for being a journalist critical of the regime. The truth is much more complicated.”
On October 28th, BBC aired an interview with Galip Dalay, a friend of Khashoggi. According to him, he met Jamal a week prior to his disappearance and he appeared “unhappy” and “worried.”
After a little “prodding,” Khashoggi admitted that he was getting proof that “Saudi Arabia had used chemical weapons [in Yemen]. He said he hoped he be getting documentary evidence.”
“All I can tell you is that the next thing I heard, he was missing,” he finished.
If Dalay’s remakrs are the truth, the Khashoggi investigation may have been one of the key reasons behind the Saudi decision to abduct or eliminate him.
On October 25th, Attorney General Shaikh Suood bin Abdullah Al Mo’jab admitted that Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated and was not a result of a “fight gone wrong,” as the Kingdom initially announced.
“The public prosecution received information from the Turkish side through the Joint Working Group between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Turkish Republic, indicating that the suspects in Khashoggi’s case premeditated their crime,” the Attorney General said. “The public prosecution continues its investigations with the accused in accordance with the latest investigation results to reach the facts, God willing, and complete the course of justice.”
Meanwhile, Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist’s eldest son left Saudi Arabia. He had previously been unable to leave because his passport had been restricted by the Kingdom several months earlier.
He received condolences from the Crown Prince, as can be seen on the haunting picture below.
On October 28th it was reported that Suood bin Abdullah Al Mo’jab would travel to Turkey and hold talks with the investigators regarding the murder.
Turkey has called for a full disclosure about the killing, which was carried out by Saudi agents— some of whom appear to work directly under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis aclso urged for a full and complete investigation into the incident. He spoke to Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir during an international conference in the Kingdom. He told reporters that Jubeir “had no reservations at all” about the need for transparency.
Asked whether his country would limit its support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Mr Mattis said:
“We’ll continue to support the defence of the kingdom.”
Washington’s response so far has been to sanction 21 Saudis by revoking their visas or making them ineligible for US visas.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that all facts surrounding the murder will be discovered and justice will be brought during his briefing on October 23rd.