Finally it is concluded by top Turkish security officials that the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul “on orders from the highest levels of the royal court”, a senior official said Tuesday.
This was revealed by David D. Kirpatrick and Carlotta Gall, the New York Times journalists based in Turkish capital Ankara. They quoted Turkish unanimous official who described “a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate” by a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose.
“It is like Pulp Fiction,” the senior official was quoted as saying, referring to the graphically violent 1994 Hollywood movie by director Quentin Tarantino.
So far Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have denied the allegations, insisting that Khashoggi left the consulate freely shortly after he arrived. But for supporting their claim they could not present any proof, a video footage or else. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has catagorically demanded that the Saudis provide evidencein support of their claim.
New York Times reports that it remains unclear “how the Turkish government determined that Khashoggi had been killed, but the conclusion that the Saudi royal court ordered it could increase the pressure on both sides of the dispute”.
It observed that “Turkish officials have left things murky enough — speaking on condition of anonymity and refusing to publicly disclose their evidence” — that such possibilities cannot be ruled out.
The Turkish official who declined to be identified said that the security establishment concluded that Khashoggi’s killing was “directed from the top” because only the most senior Saudi leaders could order an operation of such scale and complexity.
There have been numerous reports that fifteen Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights on October 2, the day when Khashoggi disappeared. All of them left just a few hours later, and Turkey has now identified the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services, the official said. One was an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body, the official said.
Meanwhile, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée Hettis Cengiz, in an article published in Washington Post, has revealed that the dissident journalist had earlier visited the Saudi consulate on September 28, when he was warmly welcomed by the mission officials. She said that Khashoggi was pretty confident that nothing will happen to him on Trukish soil.
Meanwhile, Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper which is considered to be close the authorities, has on Tuesday published the names along with photographs of the alleged 15-member Saudi assassination team accused of travelling to Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared. The suspects are wanted by Turkish authorities for questioning, the daily said.
In a related development, Bob Corker, an American Senator who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday “everything today points to” Khashoggi’s murder last week inside the Saudi consulate.he told Daily Beast that his view was reaffirmed “after viewing classified intelligence” about the disappearance.
“It points to the idea that whatever has happened to him, the Saudis – I mean, they’ve got some explaining to do,” Corker was quoted as saying.
In another important development, on Tuesday, the Washington Post has revealed that “US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials planning to abduct the prominent journalist.”
The Washington Post quoted a person familiar with the information saying, “Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and lay hands on him there.”
Khashoggi entered the consulate on October 2 to handle a routine paperwork issue but never came out. His fiancée Hattis Cengiz was waiting outside the mission. She alarmed the Turkish police and office of country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.