Analysis, Current Affairs

The Missing Journalist Jamal Khashoggi and His Alleged Assassination: What We Know So Far

The Saudi critic and journalist went missing on October 2 after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to deal with paperwork needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. Turkey fears he was killed by the Saudis who say the allegations are baseless.

Security guards stand outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials have said they believe Saudi writer and government critic Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate after he visited the mission to obtain a document required to marry his Turkish fiancee. October 11, 2018. (Lefteris Pitarakis / AP)

Jamal Khashoggi, the 59-year-old Saudi journalist who wrote Washington Postcolumns critical of the kingdom’s assertive crown prince, has been missing since October 2 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork so he could marry his fiancee Hatice Cengiz.

Turkish officials fear Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after he walked into the consulate, though they haven’t offered any evidence to support that.

The kingdom calls the allegation “baseless.” But Riyadh has not offered any evidence to prove its claim that Khashoggi left the consulate alive, even though his fiancee was waiting outside for him.

“How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan asked at a press briefing.

This is what we know so far:

Friday, October 12

Saudi Arabia’s team investigating journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance arrives in Ankara, according to TRT World sources.

Anadolu Agency quoted sources as saying that the delegation would have talks with Turkish officials over the weekend.

Several major media organisations, including The New York Times, Los Angles Times, Huffington Post, Economist, CNBC, The Financial Times and CNN have reconsidered their involvement in an upcoming Saudi business conference over Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Steve Case, one of the founders of AOL, Uber chief Dara Khosrowshahi and Viacom Inc CEO Bob Bakish have also announced they will not be attending the event scheduled to be held in Riyadh later this month.

An exiled member of the Saudi royal family, Khaled bin Farhan al Saud, has told The Independent  that Saudi authorities had a similar plot to kidnap him from the Saudi consulate in Cairo, ten days before Jamal Khashoggi went missing.

The 41-year-old exiled prince, who lives in Germany, further said that five other grandsons of late King Abdul Aziz, founder of the modern Saudi kingdom, had tried to express their dissent against Khashoggi’s disappearance.

He added that the princes were detained by Saudi authorities and their whereabouts are not known since then.

Thursday, October 11

The Washington Post reported that the Turkish government has told US officials it has audio and video recordings which show how Khashoggi was “interrogated, tortured and then murdered” inside the consulate before his body was dismembered.

Read more here

US State Department officials weren’t immediately available for comment.

Separately, Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey has accepted a Saudi proposal to form a joint working group to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey would release information about what happened with Khashoggi after an investigation.

Cavusoglu also said that Ankara was willing to work with Riyadh over the issue but Saudi Arabia would have to reciprocate the cooperation.

Earlier, the Washington Post reported that US intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Khashoggi.

Read more here

The Post, citing anonymous US officials familiar with the intelligence, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker says he has reviewed US intelligence reports suggesting that Khashoggi was killed on October 2, the day he went to the consulate.

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned that sanctions would have to be imposed at the “highest levels” of the Saudi government if it were found that the state was behind the disappearance and reported death of Jamal Khashoggi,

Corker and Top Democrat Bob Menendez are triggering an investigation into his disappearance.

Turkish authorities have said he was killed by an elite Saudi “hit squad.” The Saudi government has dismissed that allegation.

Erdogan said on Thursday, “If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them, and [I believe] they [the Saudis] would have the most advanced of systems.”

Saudi royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert were part of a 15-member team from the kingdom that targeted missing writer, local Turkish media reported.

Meanwhile, security sources earlier told TRT World one of the men was Salah Muhammed al Tubaigy who heads a “Forensic Evidence Unit” in Saudi Arabia’s “General Security Directorate.”

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales to the Kingdom over the disappearance, citing economic reasons.

He has said he spoke with the Saudis about what he called a “bad situation,” and also said the US was working “very closely” with Turkey.

Turkish officials have identified 15 people who are allegedly part of the ‘hit squad’ targeting Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (TRTWorld)

Wednesday, October 10

Photos of the 15 men thought to be the Saudi ‘hit squad’ checking in to hotels in Istanbul circulated and were identified by Turkish media who cited officials.

TRT World also obtained footage showing Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate on October 2. A screenshot of Khashoggi entering the consulate taken by a Turkish police camera, at 1:14pm on October 2 is the last known image seen of the writer who was living in exile between Washington, DC and Istanbul.

Read more here

Turkish security sources told TRT World that the ‘hit squad’ took CCTV footage from the consulate with them when they left Turkey.

Sulah Muhammad al Tubaigy has been identified as one of the 15 men thought to be part of the alleged hit squad in the Jamal Khashoggi case. Khashoggi went missing from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. (TRTWorld)

Tuesday, October 9

Saudi officials offered to allow Turkey to search the premises of the consulate in Istanbul.

Read more here

Meanwhile, UN human rights expert David Kaye called for an independent international investigation into the disappearance, urging that the probe “should not be politicised.”

He said the case has created a dilemma for the Turkish government. It “puts basically the Turks in the position of having both to maintain a diplomatic relationship and to deal with a real important, high-profile investigation.”

Monday, October 8

Turkish officials said they suspect the Washington Post contributor was killed at the Saudi Consulate and that his body was later removed from the building. The Saudi consulate says Khashoggi left its premises.

Erdogan said the kingdom has the responsibility to prove its claim that the missing Saudi journalist left the consulate alive.

Read more here

The Saudi ambassador to Turkey was summoned to the ministry to request Riyadh’s cooperation in the investigation, a Turkish official said. Turkey also requested permission to search the consulate building.

The events surrounding Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance on October 2 as gleaned from footage provided to TRT World. (TRTWorld)

Week of October 1, 2018

Turan Kislakci, Khashoggi’s friend, said on October 7 that officials told him to “make your funeral preparations” as the Washington Post contributor “was killed” at the Saudi Consulate.

“What was explained to us is this: He was killed, make your funeral preparations,” Kislakci said. “We called a few other places, but they said, ‘We have evidence he was killed in a barbaric way, we will announce it tomorrow or the day after.'”

A Turkish official said on October 6 that an “initial assessment” by police concluded Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate.

The Washington Post printed a blank column in its newspaper on October 5, in solidarity with Khashoggi titled “A missing voice” and called on Crown Prince Salman to ensure he “is free and able to continue his work.”

Supporters held rallies outside the consulate during the week. Press freedom groups called on Salman to ensure Khashoggi’s safety.


This article was originally posted here on TRT World.

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