Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, and journalist for The Washington Post, author, and former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October 2018. The exact cause of his death is unknown since his body has never been located or examined. Government officials of several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany believe Khashoggi was murdered. Turkey, in particular, believes it was premeditated murder and anonymous Saudi officials have admitted that agents affiliated with the Saudi government killed him.
Khashoggi had entered the consulate in order to obtain documents related to the marriage he and his fiancée were planning. Because no security camera footage of him exiting the building could be found, he was declared a missing person amid news reports claiming that he was dismembered alive inside the consulate before being killed. When the disappearance of Khashoggi was first reported by the news media, Saudi Arabia claimed he had left the consulate and denied having any knowledge about his fate. Turkish media published evidence suggesting that Khashoggi never came out of the consulate. Saudi Arabia subsequently denied any involvement in his disappearance.
The international community called for accountability of those responsible for the killing and more clarity on the case from Saudi authorities. Meanwhile, the Turkish authorities reported various facts to news media from the ongoing investigation of the case that refuted Saudi claims. Saudi Arabia was placed under unprecedented scrutiny, and economic and political pressure from the international community to disclose the facts. An inspection of the consulate, by Saudi and Turkish police, took place on 15 October. Turkish prosecutors reported they found evidence of tampering during the inspection and evidence that supported the belief that Khashoggi had been killed. 18 days later the Saudi government changed their position from no involvement and admitted that Khashoggi died inside the consulate due to strangulation after an argument and fistfight. Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called it a “rogue operation”.
Eighteen Saudis were arrested, including the team of 15 operatives which an anonymous Saudi official claimed General Ahmad Asiri sent to confront Khashoggi and, if necessary, detain him for return to Saudi Arabia. On 19 October the Saudi prosecutor stated that the Saudi-Turkey joint team of investigators found evidence indicating the suspects acted with premeditated intent. The Saudi Royal family have denied ordering or sanctioning the killing.
On 31 October, Istanbul’s chief prosecutor released a statement stating that Khashoggi had been strangled as soon as he entered the consulate building and that his body was dismembered and disposed of.
According to numerous anonymous police sources, the Turkish police believe that Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a 15-member team brought in from Saudi Arabia for the operation. One anonymous police source claimed that the dead body was “cut into pieces” and quietly moved out of the consulate and that all of this was “videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country”. Middle East Eye cited an anonymous Saudi who said the Tiger Squad brought Khashoggi’s fingers to Mohammad bin Salman in Riyadh as other evidence that the mission was successful.
The next day, the Middle East Eye reported that, according to an anonymous Turkish source, the killing took about seven minutes and forensic specialist Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, who had brought along a bone saw,bcut Khashoggi’s body into pieces while Khashoggi was still alive, as he and his colleagues listened to music. The source further claimed that “Khashoggi was dragged from consul general Mohammad al-Otaibi’s office at the Saudi consulate … Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive,” and “There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him.”
The Turkish pro-government newspaper Daily Sabah reported on 18 October that neighbors to the consul’s residence had observed an unusual barbecue party, which the paper suggested might have been to smoke-screen the smell from the incineration of the dismembered corpse: “We have been living here for twelve years but I have never seen them having a barbecue party. That day, they had a barbecue party in the garden.”