WEATHER AUTHORITY : Flash Flood Warning View Alerts

Turkish officials raced to intercept Saudi plane after suspecting Jamal Khashoggi had been killed

Turkish officials suspected within hours of ...

Posted: Oct 21, 2018 7:42 AM
Updated: Oct 21, 2018 7:42 AM

Turkish officials suspected within hours of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance that he had likely been killed and raced to Istanbul airport to intercept a private Saudi plane that was waiting to take off, CNN has learned.

After discovering that Khashoggi had vanished, intelligence officers scrambled to try and find out whether he had been abducted or whether his body was being taken out of the country.

Air transportation

Airports

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Continents and regions

Embassies and consulates

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Intelligence services

International relations

International relations and national security

Jamal Khashoggi

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Misc people

National security

Saudi Arabia

State departments and diplomatic services

Transportation and warehousing

Turkey

Accidents

Accidents, disasters and safety

Aircraft

Aircraft accidents

Aviation and aerospace industry

Journalism and news media

Media industry

Disguised as airport staff, officers searched the plane while a group of Saudis waited in the airport. But they found nothing suspicious, and the flight in question was allowed to leave at about 11 p.m. local time.

In the two weeks since, authorities have been trying to piece together what happened on that fateful afternoon, when the Washington Post columnist walked into the Saudi consulate to obtain paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée -- and was never seen again.

Turkish officials now say they believe that 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected to Khashoggi's death. At least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Saudi government.

Multiple sources, supported by the findings of a police report, told CNN how Turkish officials responded after Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz raised the alarm just before 5 p.m. on October 2 -- three and a half hours after the journalist entered the consulate. At that time she was still waiting outside.

An adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told CNN that he'd received a call from Cengiz and immediately called government officials, including Turkish intelligence officers.

The adviser, Yasin Aktay, said that shortly before 6 p.m. he called the Saudi ambassador in Ankara, Waleed Al Khereiji, who told him he had not heard anything about Khashoggi. Aktay says the envoy seemed surprised by the call.

Sources tell CNN that the Turkish intelligence agency MIT decided to review an audio-visual feed from inside the consulate -- a feed whose existence Turkey has not publicly acknowledged. Grisly details from the alleged feed suggest that Khashoggi was tortured then killed soon after entering the consulate, according to Turkish media. Turkish officials have told CNN that his body was dismembered.

Once the tape had been analyzed, police at the airport were alerted to search a private Saudi plane at Istanbul's Ataturk airport. That plane -- a chartered Gulfstream -- was one of two jets that had flown from Riyadh earlier on October 2, carrying the Saudis allegedly involved in the operation. The other plane had taken off before investigators arrived.

Seven Saudi passengers were already waiting at the airport, according to a police account seen by CNN, including one with a diplomatic passport. Their suitcases had already been x-rayed and the officer who carried out the scan told the MIT officers that it would have identified any body parts inside the luggage.

At about 9 p.m. intelligence officers dressed as airport workers examined the interior of the plane. They found nothing suspicious and the passengers were allowed to board. The flight left at about 11 p.m. local time.

On Thursday, a Turkish newspaper published security camera images that purport to show the movements of one of the passengers who Turkish officials have said boarded that flight.

The time-stamped surveillance images from October 2, which pro-government paper Sabah said it obtained from Turkish security sources, capture Saudi intelligence officer and former diplomat Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb outside the Saudi consulate, leaving the consul general's residence, at a nearby hotel, and arriving at the airport shortly before the chartered plane departed for Riyadh.

Mutreb, who was the first secretary at the Saudi embassy in London and has been described as a colonel in Saudi intelligence, is now believed to have played a "pivotal role" in the apparent assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a source familiar with the Turkish investigation has told CNN.

Mutreb is closely connected to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and photographs have emerged of the two together during the Crown Prince's tour of the United States earlier this year.

Turkish officials have also provided CNN with passport scans of seven other men they suspect to have been part of the 15-member Saudi team. The passport scans were taken on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance.

One of the passport scans appears to belong to Salah Muhammad al-Tubaiqi (spelled Salah Mohammed A Tubaigy in the document), listed as the head of forensic medicine at the Saudi Ministry of Interior. Tubaiqi's work has focused on mobile autopsies and dissection.

Another member of the group identified by Turkish official media is Muhammad Saad al-Zahrani, who has appeared on Saudi state TV alongside bin Salman. His name is spelled Mohammed Saad Alzahrani in the scanned document.

Turkish investigators continue to hunt for clues to what happened to Khashoggi amid growing indications that some of the men allegedly responsible for the journalist's fate have close ties to the highest levels of the Saudi government.

Both Ankara and Washington have hardened their stances as more and more evidence mounts about Khashoggi's alleged killing.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump said for the first time that he believes Khashoggi is no longer alive, saying repercussions if Saudi Arabia were found to have been involved in the Washington Post journalist's killing would have to be "severe."

He told reporters Friday, "I think waiting two days and making sure everything's right is not so bad. We've done a lot of work on this."

Trump added he expected to get answers to the "who knew what, when and where" by Monday.

The Trump administration has staked much of its policy agenda in the Middle East on a strong US-Saudi relationship, with the president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner forging a close personal relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Scattered Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 75°
Columbus
Few Clouds
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather