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Trump Jr backs smear linking Khashoggi to terrorism, says report

Conservative pundit says Khashoggi was 'tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden'
Donald Trump Jr (AFP/file photo)

Donald Trump Jr on Friday promoted a smear linking Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to Osama bin Laden, retweeting a series of tweets meant to imply that the missing Saudi commentator supported terrorism, the Daily Beast reported.

With his father, President Donald Trump, reluctant to block military sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's alleged murder after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul earlier this month, conservative pundits have been straining to provide excuses for US inaction, according to Will Sommer writing in the Daily Beast.

They have claimed that Khashoggi was a terrorist sympathiser, based on his coverage of militant groups and leaders, including bin Laden.

The latest attack on Khashoggi's reputation began with Patrick Poole, a terrorism correspondent for conservative website PJ Media. Poole ran images from a 1988 article Khashoggi wrote showing Khashoggi holding a rocket-propelled grenade with fighters in Afghanistan opposing the Soviet Union.

Anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan during this period were often supported by the United States.

Khashoggi was among a number of journalists who interviewed bin Laden in the 1980s and 90s. Still, the picture and article, Poole said, was proof that Khashoggi was "tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden".

Sean Davis, co-founder of conservative website The Federalist, commented on Poole's tweet to suggest that Khashoggi’s defenders were being duped by Iranian interests looking to damage relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Trump Jr then boosted Davis's post, retweeting for his 3 million Twitter followers the attack on Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, 60, has been missing since 2 October, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork so he could remarry and has not been seen since.

The Trump Organization on Friday night did not immediately return a request from CNN for comment on Trump Jr's Twitter post.