Saudi assassins reportedly dismembered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi while he was still alive. Turkish officials also revealed to the Wall Street Journal that Khashoggi was never interrogated before he was beaten and killed, undermining the Saudi theory that he may have been killed in an interrogation gone wrong.
What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2 in Istanbul, to finalize his divorce so he could marry his fiancée. He was never seen again. Khashoggi had frequently criticized the Saudi government and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
What new information do we have?
The Turkish government had already said that it had proof that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the consulate and that the pieces of his body were later removed.
Middle East Eye, citing an unnamed Turkish source, said that recordings obtained by the Turkish government prove that Khashoggi was alive at the time that he was dismembered.
The source told Middle East Eye that Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, the head of forensic evidence for the Saudi general security department, personally cut up Khashoggi’s body. The Wall Street Journal also spoke with multiple Turkish sources who identified Tubaigy (whose name is also spelled Salah Al Tabiqi) as the person who dismembered Khashoggi. Turkish officials gave CNN passport scans of seven Saudi men believed to be involved in the incident, including Tubaigy.
On a recording of the incident obtained by the Turkish government, Tubaigy recommends that the other Saudis present listen to music while he works.
“When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too,” he reportedly said.
Khashoggi had reportedly been injected with a substance prior to his dismemberment that did not kill him right away. Middle East Eye’s source reported that it took seven minutes before he died.
While, according to CNN, Saudi Arabia was planning to release a report saying that Khashoggi had died during an interrogation gone wrong, these recordings, according to both Middle East Eye and the Wall Street Journal, show no evidence of an interrogation.
Another Saudi implicated by the Turkish government in Khashoggi’s disappearance was Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb. Mutreb was assigned to the Saudi Embassy in London in 2007. He also reportedly was close to the Saudi crown prince, and has been photographed near him on several international trips. A scan of the passport belonging to Muhammad Saad al-Zahrani, another associate of the crown prince, was also among the batch given to CNN by Turkish officials.
Trump told people not to prejudge Saudi Arabia
President Donald Trump compared people who blamed Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance to those who had accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “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.”
On Monday, Trump had also repeated a Saudi theory that the murder may have been carried out by “rogue killers.” This theory could potentially be used by the Saudis to try to vindicate themselves in case they are implicated in Khashoggi’s murder.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that he was granting the Saudi government “a few more days” to finish their investigation “so they get it right” before deciding whether or not he thought the accusations against them were credible.