A Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, critic of the Saudi government and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.
The order to kill the journalist came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi government, according to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, and he called for the “puppet-masters” to be revealed. In an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, Erdogan said he did not believe “for a second” that King Salman was behind “the hit” on Khashoggi, restraining from accusing the crown prince directly.
One of Erdogan’s advisers bluntly said that the crown prince had “blood on his hands” over the murder, reported CNBC. Initially, the Saudi government insisted Khashoggi had left the consulate, however, they later said he died in an unplanned “rogue operation”. The kingdom’s public prosecutor, Saud Al Mojeb, said the murder was premeditated.
According to Irfan Fidan, the chief Istanbul prosecutor, Khashoggi, was strangled as soon as he went into the consulate. In the first official confirmation, he stated, “in accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on Oct.October 2. The victim’s body was dismembered and destroyed following his death by suffocation – again, in line with advance plans.”
On Nov. 4, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged to hold accountable those responsible for the murder of Khashoggi, while also maintaining the important “strategic relationship” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. However, he says it could be several weeks before the U.S. formally responds to Khashoggi’s death as the administration is still in the process of gathering evidence, Reuters reports.
According to a list confirmed by Turkish officials, 15 Saudis flew to Istanbul on the morning of Oct. 2, and taking part of the operation, then quickly left the country.
At least 12 members of that team are connected to Saudi security services, and several have links to Crown Prince himself, according to passport records, social media and local media reports, as well as other material, reported The Washington Post.
Khashoggi’s sons have made a plaintiff appeal for the return of his body, saying he should be buried in his native Saudi city in a cemetery alongside his relatives. Without their father’s body, the brothers say their family is unable to grieve or find closure. “All [that we want right now is to bury him in Al-Baqi (cemetery) in Medina (Saudi Arabia) with the rest of his family,” Salah said in a quote for The Washington Post.
Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi called their father “courageous, generous and very brave,” saying they have endured weeks of uncertainty following their father’s disappearance and death.
“I really hope that whatever happened wasn’t painful for him, or it was quick. Or he had a peaceful death,” Abdullah Khashoggi told CNN during a sit-down interview in Washington.