Jamal Khashoggi’s family called to palace by Saudi royals

Photographs of the gathering showed Khashoggi's brother Sahl bin Ahmed Khashoggi and his son Salah Jamal Khashoggi (pictured above) exchanging handshakes with the two royals as a cameraman filmed in the background.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has posed with Khashoggi’s family at the Saudi royal palace. But with the US targeting “Saudi suspects,” the kingdom faces mounting pressure to provide a credible account of the murder.

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed their condolences Tuesday to the family of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Yamama Palace in Riyadh, the state-run SPA news agency said.

Photographs of the gathering showed Khashoggi’s brother Sahl bin Ahmed Khashoggi and his son Salah Jamal Khashoggi (pictured above) exchanging handshakes with the two royals as a cameraman filmed in the background.

Sahl and Salah gave their thanks to the king and crown prince, the SPA report added. A friend of the family told The Associated Press that Salah cannot leave the country because he has been under a travel ban since last year.

Read more: Saudi Arabia calls Jamal Khashoggi killing a ‘grave mistake’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also offered his condolences to the Khashoggi family in a phone call and told them he would do “everything necessary to solve the murder,” the Turkish presidency said.

US targets ‘Saudi suspects’

Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the crown prince, disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi Arabia initially claimed the 59-year-old had left the premises after picking up some documents, but later said he had died accidentally in a “fistfight.”

A number of Western governments have questioned the credibility of that account and demanded that the kingdom — which is hosting a major investor conference this week — provide a full explanation. Critics allege the crown prince himself may have ordered the assassination, or at the very least been aware of it.

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration would move to revoke visas of concerned Saudi officials. Shortly afterward, the State Department said 21 “Saudi suspects” would no longer be able to enter the US.

“These penalties will not be the last word on this matter,” Pompeo said. The Trump administration “will continue to hold those responsible accountable. We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, with violence.”

‘Cut up’ body parts reportedly found

Meanwhile, Sky News reported on Tuesday that Khashoggi’s dismembered body parts had been discovered during a search of the Saudi consul general’s residence in Istanbul.

Unnamed sources cited by Sky said the journalist had been “cut up” and his face severely “disfigured.” One source also alleged that the remains were discovered in the consul general’s garden.

The reports, which have not been confirmed, came after Erdogan told lawmakers Turkey had “strong evidence” that Saudi officials planned the “brutal murder” days in advance.

In a speech to parliament, he demanded those behind the killing “all be brought to account” and called on Riyadh to reveal the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body.

Search for evidence

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered inside the consulate by a 15-man hit squad flown in from Riyadh.

Last week, Turkish forensics teams searched the home of the Saudi consul general, located just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the consulate. Local media reported that local security forces had also searched for evidence at a 3-story villa in Yalova province, near Istanbul. The property reportedly belonged to a member of the Saudi hit squad.

Read more: Jamal Khashoggi’s murder through the lens of Middle Eastern media

Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet said on Tuesday that it would hold those behind the murder to account “no matter who they may be.”

“Measures have been taken by the kingdom to uncover the truth and hold accountable all those whose incompetence or immediate responsibility” was behind the killing, a Cabinet statement published by the state-run SPA news agency said.

Saudi authorities say they have arrested 18 suspects, including members of the hit squad and consulate staff.