U.S. intelligence intercepts reveal that Mohammed bin Salman, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, hatched a plot to lure missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi from Virginia to Saudi Arabia where he planned to capture him, according to a Wednesday Washington Post report.
Khashoggi has been missing since last week when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documentation to marry his fiancée. Per Turkish officials, he was murdered in the consulate upon arrival.
This brings up the question of if the intelligence agencies were obligated to warn Khashoggi about the imminent peril when he prepared to depart for his home country.
As a former intelligence official told the Post, intelligence officers must tell a person (whether a U.S. citizen or not) if he or she is in immediate danger of violence. But, the official added, if the intercept only said that he would be captured, possibly arrested, that would not compel agents to warn him.
According to the Washington Post, prior to his disappearance, Khashoggi had been inundated with government job offers and protection if he would move back to his home country. He was reportedly distrustful of the offers and resolute that returning to Saudi Arabia would be dangerous for him, a critic of the regime.
Though President Donald Trump has been reluctant to act, no doubt hampered by his personal affection for and good relationship with bin Salman, a bipartisan coalition of senators has written a letter to the President demanding an investigation and possible imposition of sanctions.
According to a Wednesday CNN report, the letter gives the Trump administration about four months to “determine whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression,” and report back its findings to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
All told, the letter was signed by Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Barrasso (R-WY), Chris Murphy (D-CN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jim Risch (R-ID) and Tom Udall (D-NM).