Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, reportedly ordered that missing dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi be lured from Virginia to his home country so he could be detained.
The crown prince's alleged involvement was revealed through discussions between Saudi officials intercepted by U.S. intelligence, according to the Washington Post late Wednesday.
Friends of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, told the newspaper that senior Saudi aides had offered the media figure a high-level government job in recent months should he return to Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi declined the entreaties, fearing for his safety at the hands of the regime.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal court who most recently worked for the Washington Post as a columnist, has not been seen since he visited the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2. His trip to the consulate was to arrange paperwork for his wedding to his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish citizen.
It is widely feared that Khashoggi has been murdered, given reports a group of 15 Saudis described as an assassination squad arrived in the city around the same time. Some, however, suggest the group had been sent on a “rendition” operation, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
President Trump on Wednesday pledged to investigate the situation as he, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, and presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner liaise with "the highest level" of the Saudi government. Trump also promised to invite Cengiz, Khashoggi's fiancee, to the White House.