New Delhi: After a Turkish newspaper identified the involvement of a 15-member intelligence team in the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, CCTV footage released by Turkish sources corroborated that he was brutally killed by two men inside the Saudi consulate.
The Saudi dissident was last seen a week ago entering the consulate to verify documents for his remarriage. His Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside, said he never emerged. The Turkish sources has expressed suspicion over Khashoggi being killed inside the mansion. The US consulate, however, have denied all the allegations.
As reported by Reuters, a group of 15 Saudi nationals entered the consulate on the same day (October 2) when Khashoggi had his appointment. The report also said that the hotels where the Saudi nationals stayed were in the same neighbourhood as the Saudi consulate.
Middle East Eye revealed a detailed account of the conspired assassination of Khashoggi, who has long been a very vocal critic of Saudi Arabia’s policies. He had been living in exile in the US over a year and was known to be the one of the best critics of the Saudi government’s reform programme under the stewardship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Khashoggi has worked as general manager and editor-in-chief of Al Arab News and is a well-acclaimed columnist at Washington Post.
In several of his articles for the Washington Post and Al Jazeera, he strongly criticised Saudi policies towards Qatar and Canada, the Yemen war, and an overall muzzling of dissent in media.Standing in solidarity with the decision that allowed Saudi women to drive, he blithely critiqued Crown Prince who opposed the idea of allowing women to drive. In an Washington Post article, he wrote, “Some senior princes, like late Crown Prince Nayef, opposed letting women drive. He had been a powerful figure for decades and ran the Interior Ministry, holding sway over what happened in the kingdom.”
Turkish officials claimed they are aware about the time and place when veteran Saudi journalist was killed and are considering whether to dig up the garden to confirm whether his body remains buried there.
Countering their claims, Saudi officials have said that the 59-year-old left the consulate soon after he arrived and are concerned about him.
On Tuesday, October 9, Khashoggi was informed by the Consulate that the papers were ready for him, the source said. His appointment was for 1pm.
The sources further revealed: “All local staff members were told to take the afternoon off because a high-level diplomatic meeting was planned for the afternoon in the consulate.”
As the journalist arrived, he was led into the consul-general’s room and shortly afterwards was dragged into another room where he was reportedly murdered. His body was then dragged to a third room and dismembered with a bone saw, added the source.
“It is like Pulp Fiction,” the official said.
According to reports, Erdogan was informed of the conclusions on Saturday, according to several people with knowledge of the briefings, and he has since dispatched officials to anonymously tell news outlets that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate.
His killing, as argued in an Al Jazeera report, might further create tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who are on opposite sides of the multination blockade of Qatar as well as other regional issues.
US President Donald Trump, as reported by Reuters, has described the case as a “very serious situation.”
Moreover, the collective outcry from lawmakers from both parties, foreign policy analysts and leading media commentators has created pressure on the White House administration to take a strong step along this direction.
Senate members wrote a letter to Trump demanding an investigation into the case. As per Reuters, this could result in sanctions against Saudis under the US human rights law.
(With PTI inputs)