WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James Mattis said the Pentagon and others are continuing to review evidence in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and he expects more evidence to be found.
“I am quite satisfied we’ll find more evidence of what happened,” Mattis told reporters on Wednesday. “I just don’t know what it’s going to be or who’s going to be implicated…. but we will follow it as far as we can.”
Mattis has previously said he had reviewed the evidence to date of Khashoggi’s murder and found “no smoking gun” linking the slaying to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.
On Wednesday Mattis indicated for the first time that the case was not closed. He said he needs to have specific evidence before drawing any final conclusion and that “we are doing everything we can to go down every rabbit hole to find what’s there.
“That’s my responsibility, because a significant amount of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, including a rather critical part of it, is under my cognizance,” Mattis told reporters. “And they have their orders, they are very good men and women, and they have found a lot of things out over the past years. So just bear with us, when we speak, it will be with the authority and I won’t, I will not speculate or draw premature conclusions.
“But we are leaving no stone unturned.”
Mattis made his remarks to pool reporters while flying to Ottawa, Canada, for a meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition nations. The remarks to those reporters are shared for use with other media in the larger Pentagon press pool, including Talk Media News.
So far, Mattis said he has not changed his analysis regarding the murder of Khashoggi, in that he saw “no smoking gun” linking the murder to the Saudi crown prince.
“The senator, he has a right to his own opinion,” Mattis said, referring to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) comment to reporters on Tuesday that if there was not a smoking gun there was a “smoking saw.” The reference was to allegations that Khashoggi’s body, which has not been found, was dismembered with a bone saw.
Mattis is meeting with counterparts from 19 other nations on Wednesday and Thursday to plan the next moves against ISIS, even as the last redoubt of the terrorists in Syria continues to resist attacks.
“That hardened core means tough fighting there, plus the potential for it to try to become more influential worldwide, influential meaning inspiring attacks by surrogates, by those who’ve pledged allegiance to them,” Mattis said. “So we’re going to have to address that threat that emanates from the global affiliate. We’re going to discuss our vision for the future.”
He said the anti-ISIS coalition remains strong and committed. “They’re still in the game,” Mattis said of the other coalition nations. “They recognize it, I’m not going up there to persuade them about the threat, it’s more to assess it, how is it adapting, how must we adapt and how do we go forward.”