A previously promised Saudi contribution of $100 million to U.S.-backed stabilization efforts in Syria arrived in American accounts Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Saudi Arabia to discuss the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an anonymous U.S. official told The New York Times.
“The timing of this is no coincidence,” said an American official involved in Syria policy who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Times.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to secure a document he needed to get married, and Turkey has confirmed that it has evidence that Saudi agents killed and dismembered him inside the consulate.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy to the coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, told the Times that Pompeo’s visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the $100 million payment were not connected.
“The specific transfer of funds has been long in the process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit,” McGurk said.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said on Tuesday after earlier suggesting that “rogue killers” may be to blame for Khashoggi’s disappearance. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”