Jamal Khashoggi was killed on the orders of Saudi leadership, Turkish officials revealed to the New York Times. 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.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described to the Times a quick and complex operation in which 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.
While the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has so far been reluctant to confirm the killing of Khashoggi, grisly details of the murder and the operation to assassinate the Saudi journalist are being released by senior Turkish security officials.
Pro-government Turkish newspapers released late yesterday the identity of 15 Saudi agents that are suspected of carrying out the murder. They arrived on two charter flights last Tuesday, the day Khashoggi disappeared. Turkish officials say that three of them were members of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s elite close protection unit.
Today, Turkish television broadcaster NTV released CCTV footage of some of the Saudis going from the airport to the Movenpick Hotel, where they are believed to have stayed, and on to the consulate.
The identity and the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services are now known to the Turkish officials. One is said to be an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body, the official said.
Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz has broken her silence over the disappearance of the Saudi critic. In an article for the Washington Post, Cengiz urged US President Donald Trump to “help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance.” She wrote that she was “confident” he was still alive, but her hope was fading with each passing day.
Meanwhile new information has come to light that may explain why the Saudis decided that Khashoggi had become a threat to national security. Investigations carried out by the Daily Beast reveal that the Saudi critic was on the path to becoming a bigger nuisance for Arab regimes by heading a pro-democracy group made up of Arab Spring exiles living in the West.
It’s thought Khashoggi had decided to use his influence to head a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). According to a statement of core principles, reported by the Daily Beast, the group would aim to provide “a counter narrative in the Arab world and the West to Arab Spring skeptics”. Its members also planned to advocate to corporate leaders, policymakers, journalists and think tanks on behalf of democracy in the Middle East.
The documentation indicates Khashoggi was set to lead DAWN, and that it aimed to gather “Arab Spring exiles who are scattered in various world capitals and cities, to strengthen their morale and utilise them.”
The editorial page editor of the Washington Post told the Daily Beast that his paper was aware that Khashoggi was looking to formally move into the advocacy world.
“We knew of Jamal’s interest in building platforms to promote the discussion of issues that he is passionate about, notably freedom and democracy in the Middle East,” he said. “We’re also confident that he would be transparent with readers about these efforts as they progressed.”
Khashoggi is believed to have made trips to Europe to raise money for DAWN from Gulf state expats. People close to him interviewed regarding his involvement with DAWN pointed out that Khashoggi didn’t voice intentions to overturn governments, but rather to expand the rights of people living in the region.