Almost three months after the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s consulate in Istanbul, a new book reveals further details about the murder, the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported.
Titled “Diplomatic Atrocity: The Dark Secrets of the Khashoggi Murder”, the book, written by two Daily Sabah journalists, purports to shed light on the events that led to the writer’s murder and what transpired in the aftermath.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate on October 2 to obtain documents certifying he divorced his ex-wife so he could remarry. He was killed and the body dismembered inside the consulate, in what Turkey called a “premeditated murder” orchestrated by the Saudi government.
Saudi officials have countered that claim, insisting Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation”, after initially claiming he had left the building before vanishing. Turkey said the killing was ordered at the highest level of Saudi leadership, implying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the murder. The kingdom has maintained the prince, also known as MBS, had no knowledge of the killing.
Among the reported revelations in the book is the discovery of a new recording containing information about the moments before the murder and the moments that followed, supporting Turkey’s accusation that the crime was premeditated and carried out in cold blood.
The book also discloses new names of two people who participated in the 15-man so-called Saudi hit squad that killed Khashoggi and dismembered his body.
Saeed Mu’ayyad al-Qarni and Muflis Shaya al-Musleh had posed as security guards at the consulate but are in fact agents of Saudi intelligence who carry diplomatic passports, the book states.
A third person, Ahmed Abdullah al-Muzaini, was identified in the book as the head of the Istanbul unit of the Saudi intelligence service.
Al-Qarni and al-Musleh did not participate in the act of murder, the book said, but were part of the team that arrived a day earlier and carried out explorations in different parts of Istanbul for the purpose of getting rid of the body.
‘Living in a villa’
Turkish officials have repeatedly suggested the murder trial be held in Turkey, but Saudi authorities have denied the requests, saying the suspects will be tried in the kingdom.
Although Saudi Arabia reported that all members of the hit squad were arrested after they returned to the country, the book cites an unnamed source as saying that Salah al-Tubaigy, the forensic doctor accused of dismembering Khashoggi’s body, escaped any action.
Instead, the book says, Saudi authorities asked him to disappear from the limelight, and Tubaigy is now living in a villa in Jeddah with his family.
The book also says that the head of the hit squad, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, told Khashoggi when he entered the consulate that he would not be harmed if he cooperated with them.
He asked Khashoggi to send a message to his son Salah’s phone in Riyadh, informing him that he was safe in Istanbul and not to worry if he could not be contacted for a while. Khashoggi refused to do so, and in the recording, cited in the book, can be heard saying: “Will you kill me? Will you suffocate me?”
‘Never worked on a warm body’
According to the book, Khashoggi maintained his composure when he realised that he would not get out of the consulate alive, after he heard Mutreb ordering five members of the hit squad to attack him by suffocating him with a nylon bag. The recordings indicate that Khashoggi’s last sentence was: “Do not cover my mouth. I have asthma, you will suffocate me.”
Khashoggi resisted his killers for five minutes, according to the book.
Afterwards, Khashoggi’s body was cut up by Tubaigy using a forensic saw. The book purports that the members of the hit squad, who remained present at the scene, were disturbed and nauseated by the dismemberment.
Tubaigy, however, is heard saying in a recording from before the murder “I’ve never worked on a warm body so far but I can easily handle him [Khashoggi]”, according to the book.
“Normally, when I’m cutting cadavers, I would put my headphones on and listen to music. I’d also drink my coffee at the same time,” Tubaigy continued.
The book also states that there is no evidence of how the Saudis got rid of Khashoggi’s body, including allegations that the body was disposed of by dissolving it in acid.
Furthermore, the book dispels a widely reported claim that after the murder, Mutreb called a superior and told him to “tell your boss … the deed is done“, with reports suggesting the “boss” was MBS.