Saudi flip flops

Mr Jamal Khashoggi (above in dark suit).
Mr Jamal Khashoggi (above in dark suit).PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE, REUTERS
 Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.
Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE, REUTERS
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, EPA-EFE, REUTERS

In just over two weeks, Saudi Arabia has given conflicting accounts of what happened to Jamal Khashoggi

OCT 3

'We want to know what happened.'

Mr Jamal Khashoggi (above in dark suit) is reported missing a day after walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, often criticised in Mr Khashoggi's reporting, tells Bloomberg no one knows what happened to the journalist.

He says: "We hear the rumours about what happened. He's a Saudi citizen and we are very keen to know what happened to him. And we will continue our dialogue with the Turkish government to see what happened to Jamal there."


OCT 4

'We're looking into it.'

The consulate says it is "carrying out follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building".


OCT 7

'Baseless allegations.'

Saudi officials slam "baseless allegations" in a Reuters report which claims the journalist has been killed and that 15 Saudis flew to Turkey and visited the consulate on the day Mr Khashoggi went missing. '


OCT 9

Absolutely false.'

Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Khalid bin Salman, says claims that Mr Khashoggi had been murdered in the consulate are "absolutely false, and baseless".

Above: A screengrab from a police CCTV video made available through Turkish Newspaper Sabah allegedly shows suspects in the case of the murdered Mr Khashoggi.


OCT 15

'Rogue killers.'

US President Donald Trump says he has received a strong denial from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of any involvement in the disappearance, and that "rogue killers" could be involved.

Right: A Turkish forensic investigator combing the consulate for clues.


OCT 20

'He died in a brawl.'

Saudi Arabia admits Mr Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. "Discussions that took place between him and the persons who met him... at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fistfight... which led to his death, may his soul rest in peace," says Attorney-General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb. He does not say where Mr Khashoggi's body is.


SACKED AIDES

AHMED AL-ASSIRI, DEPUTY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF

Major-General Assiri, said to be in his 60s, often sat in on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's closed-door meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries.

Prior to his promotion as the deputy head of general intelligence last year, Maj-Gen Assiri served as the spokesman for the Saudi-led military alliance in Yemen, which has been battling Houthi rebels since March 2015.

Fluent in French, English and Arabic, the hard-charging official had developed a reputation for hassling journalists whose reports were not to his liking.

The New York Times reported last week that Saudi Arabia would assign responsibility for Mr Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance to Maj-Gen Assiri to help deflect blame from the powerful Crown Prince.


SAUD AL-QAHTANI, ROYAL MEDIA ADVISER

Mr Qahtani was a media adviser who organised interviews with the Crown Prince for foreign journalists. Saudi sources say Mr Qahtani, believed to be 40, steered online propaganda campaigns against the kingdom's adversaries, such as Qatar and Iran, on social media. With 1.3 million Twitter followers, the firebrand official was known for aggressively targeting dissenters and rivals on the platform.

Mr Khashoggi alleged Mr Qahtani maintained a ''blacklist'' of writers critical of the kingdom and was known to intimidate them. Mr Qahtani tweeted last year: ''I don't do anything from my own head without an order. I am an employee and executor to my king and my crown prince.''

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 21, 2018, with the headline 'Saudi flip flops'. Print Edition | Subscribe