Manama: US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Saturday condemned the brutal murder of Washington Post contributor and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi as ‘intolerable’. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

At a security conference in Bahrain, James Mattis stated that Khashoggi’s killing is not only a violation of human rights issue but a security threat to the Middle East nations. “Such behaviour undermines stability in the Middle East at a time when the region needs it most”, said Mattis. He added, “When people can speak and be heard calling for peace and respect for all, the terrorist message of hatred and violence is not embraced. With our collective interests in peace and unwavering respect for human rights in mind, the murder of Khashoggi in a diplomatic facility must concern us all greatly.” The event was attended by top Saudi officials, including the country’s foreign minister.

Mattis also stressed on US President Donald Trump’s vow to dig deeper into the case to unearth the truth behind the murder. Quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mattis said that the United States “does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence”. In addition to the revoking US visas to certain Saudi suspects, the US would take further measures in response to the killing, added Mattis.

Criticising the hysteria over the issue, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Al-Jubeir said: “I think people have assigned blame on Saudi Arabia with such certainty before the investigation is complete.” He added, “We will share the results of the investigation, we will hold people to account and those responsible will be held to account and we will put in mechanisms to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Last week, Saudi Arabia admitted that the murder of Khashoggi was ‘premeditated’, after claiming that the journalist died in a “fistfight” after a heated argument in the consulate. So far, the Saudi kingdom has arrested 18 people in the case and dismissed five high-ranking officials which includes Crown Prince Bin Salman’s media chief and the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence service.

(With Agency inputs)