It has been more than two months since Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul only to be immediately murdered and butchered by a 15-man hit squad. And while the Trump Administration struggles to stop the CIA and a coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers from throwing a wrench in the works of US-Saudi relations, prosecutors in Turkey are pressing ahead with their plans to hold Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and his top aides accountable for the killing.
To wit, Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for two of MbS’s top aides who are suspected by having orchestrated the killing of the Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist – potentially threatening them with arrest, followed by a prosecution in Istanbul, should they dare venture outside the Kingdom. One of the two men targeted is Saud al-Qahtani, a former top aide to the prince who has been targeted by US and Canadian sanctions (Qahtani was also removed from his position within the kingdom’s intelligence service by the Saudis as part of a groups of nearly two dozen Saudis who were officially blamed for the “botched interrogation”). The other man is General Ahmed al-Asiri, the former head of the kingdom’s intelligence service, who was also removed from his post during the fallout from the scandal.
Here’s more from Reuters:
Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has filed warrants for the arrest of a top aide to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and the deputy head of foreign intelligence on suspicion of planning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, two Turkish officials said on Wednesday.
The prosecutor’s office has concluded there is “strong suspicion” that Saud al-Qahtani and General Ahmed al-Asiri, who were removed from their positions in October, were among the planners of the Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the officials said.
Because Saudi officials have proven unwilling to hold those who organized Khashoggi’s killing accountable (to be sure, the kingdom has threatened five men with the death penalty in the killing), Turkey said it would assume the responsibility of doling out punishments for the killing.
“The prosecution’s move to issue arrest warrants for Asiri and Qahtani reflects the view that the Saudi authorities won’t take formal action against those individuals,” one of the Turkish officials said.
Turkish authorities ominously threatened to “address” the international community’s “doubts” about MbS’s role in Khashoggi’s killing (a statement that appeared to be directed at Trump).
“The international community seems to doubt Saudi Arabia’s commitment to prosecute this heinous crime. By extraditing all suspects to Turkey, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, the Saudi authorities could address those concerns,” the Turkish official said.
Back in the US, a coalition of Republicans and Democrats are insisting that legislation be passed to “send a message” to Saudi Arabia, over the protests of Trump, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior administration officials. If they truly want to strengthen their case for holding Khashoggi’s killers accountable, Turkish prosecutors still have one ace to play: Release the Khashoggi murder tape.