Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s corpse was dismembered and put into five suitcases by a death squad a little while after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in early October, a Turkish media report says.
The Turkish pro-government newspaper Sabah, citing unnamed officials, reported on Sunday that the suitcases were then taken to the Saudi consul’s residence near the consulate where the outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was killed on October 2.
The officials said Maher Mutreb, Salah Tubeigy and Thaar al-Harbi were the three key figures from a 15-member hit squad involved in dismembering Khashoggi’s body and removing it from the premises.
Harbi was reportedly promoted to lieutenant in the Saudi royal guard last year for bravery in the defense of the crown prince’s palace in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.
Mutreb was a direct aide to bin Salman. Tubeigy was the head of the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics and a colonel in the Saudi military.
Turkish media outlets have named the 15 Saudi suspects who flew into Istanbul and left on the same day the journalist was last seen.
A senior Turkish official told the Washington Post on Friday that the slain journalist’s body was destroyed in acid on the grounds of the Saudi consulate or at the nearby residence of the Saudi consul general. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said biological evidence discovered in the diplomatic mission garden supports the theory that Khashoggi’s body was disposed of close to where he was killed and dismembered.
Turkish judicial officials said on Wednesday that Khashoggi was "strangled" as soon as he entered the diplomatic mission and his body was then "cut into pieces" under a "premeditated plan."
The leak of details coincides with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement in which he said he believed that the order to kill the journalist came from the “highest levels” of the Saudi state.
In a Friday op-ed for the Washington Post, the Turkish president said there are still many "questions" for Saudi Arabia to answer regarding the killing of Khashoggi in the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
The body of Khashoggi remains missing. A joint Turkish-Saudi investigation into Khashoggi’s fate has made little progress so far.
Khashoggi, a prominent commentator on Saudi affairs who wrote for the Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, had lived in self-imposed exile in the US since September 2017, when he left Saudi Arabia over fears of the Riyadh regime’s crackdown on critical voices.
He was seeking to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but never came out despite Riyadh’s initial claim that he exited the mission less than an hour after completing his paperwork.
The kingdom, however, later admitted that Khashoggi had been murdered in the consulate during an interrogation by rogue operatives that had gone wrong after diplomatic pressure grew tremendously on Riyadh to give an account on the mysterious fate of its national. However, Saudi Arabia said that it did not know the whereabouts of the body, which is widely believed to have been dismembered.
His death has put the Riyadh regime and bin Salman under strict scrutiny. The journalist's fiancée has accused Saudi officials of a massive cover-up.
Amnesty International has recently called on UN member states to break their silence on Saudi Arabia’s widening crackdown, led by bin Salman, against Muslim preachers and intellectuals beside the conservative oil-rich kingdom’s atrocious aerial bombardment campaign against Yemen.