Images surface of Saudis allegedly sent to target writer

Iranian-Saudi detente could transform the region and US power is there to prevent

Turkish media close to the president published images on Wednesday of what it described as a 15-member "assassination squad" allegedly sent to target Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and of a black van later traveling from the Saudi consulate, where he went missing, to the consul's home. Airport security officials now say they checked all bags that the Saudi teams took with them from the consulate to the airport and say there were no suspicious items in any of the items loaded on to the jets for their return journeys to Riyadh.

The Sabah newspaper, which is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, identified the team members, including several alleged security officials, and published photos of each of them, apparently taken at passport control.

The details surrounding Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week remain a mystery, but according to a new report from the Post, U.S. intelligence officials seemed to have discovered a plan to capture him before it happened, and failed to successfully intervene.

Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known journalist and critic of the Saudi government, walked into the country's consulate in Istanbul last week to obtain some documents and has not been seen since.

Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, insisting he left the consulate on his own, but has provided no evidence that he departed the building.

A senior Turkish official told the Times that "Ankara hoped that Washington and the worldwide community would take the lead in challenging Saudi Arabia".

Turkey's foreign minister said authorities would search the consulate in Istanbul as part of its investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, saying Saudi officials were "open to cooperation", although it's unclear when the event would take place.

Mr Khashoggi arranged to come back on 2 October and arrived at 13:14 local time for his appointment, which was scheduled for 13:30.

Turkey said Tuesday it will search the consulate as it investigates why journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, vanished there October 2, an extraordinary probe of a diplomatic post amid Turkish officials' fears the writer had been killed inside the building. Turkish officials fear that the team killed the writer, who was critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

RSF, in a statement on its website, highlighted that "more than 15 journalists and bloggers have been arrested in a completely opaque manner in Saudi Arabia since September 2017".

In Istanbul, Khashoggi met his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, a PhD student who had met Khashoggi at a seminar.

"I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate", she wrote.

Signs of such a challenge began to emerge Monday night when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Saudis to "support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation".

Anonymous Turkish sources say the 15 men flew into Istanbul of two private Gulfstream IV jets with tail numbers HZ-SK1 and HZ-SK2.

"At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance", she wrote.

The Washington Post also reports that prior to Mr Khashoggi's visit, United States intelligence had intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plot to capture him.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hami Aksoy, said the Saudis would allow Turkish police to search the consulate building, a week after Khashoggi disappeared.

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