Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist and contributor to The Washington Post, disappeared Oct. 2nd, 2018. Khashoggi, a former advisor and later critic of the Saudi government was residing in Virginia for the past year, and reportedly went missing after going into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to finish certifying his divorce for remarriage purposes. Turkey believed that Khashoggi had been strangled to death and dismembered by Saudi agents, said the BBC. However, new details from the Saudi investigation show that Khashoggi actually died from tranquilization before being dismembered and disposed of.
In the weeks since Khashoggi’s murder, the Saudis continued to alter their story. The Saudis first denied that Khashoggi had even been killed, but eventually blamed it on a “rogue operation” unauthorized by the royal family, reported the BBC. Turkey, however, believes the murder was ordered by the crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
18 people presumed to be connected to the murder were arrested in Saudi Arabia, further says the BBC, and two top aides to the Crown Prince were fired as well. Turkey had hoped for the extradition of the 18 detainees to Turkey, but the Saudis did not grant its request, said The New York Times. On the other hand, the Saudis invited the Turks to send a prosecutor to conduct investigations from Saudi Arabia, but they had not answered Turkey’s questions surrounding the murder and location of the remains.
Investigators are now trying to piece together what happened. According to the New York Times, Turkey has played a recording of the killing to CIA director Gina Haspel and other international intelligence officials. The recording also contains a phone call one of the agents, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, placed to a superior to “tell your boss” that Khashoggi had been killed, suggesting that the murder was planned. According to U.S. intelligence, the “boss” is likely a reference to the Crown Prince. Turkey’s President Erdogan now says he has sent copies of this recording to the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Saudi Arabia, the New York Times noted.
Details released from the Saudi investigation confirm that the group of Saudis, led by Mutreb, were sent to Istanbul to bring Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia now revealed that Khashoggi actually died from a high dosage of a tranquilizer, and was dismembered for mobilisation from the consulate, affirmed the New York Times. Information about the “local collaborator” who got rid of Khashoggi’s remains have still not been revealed, and the Saudis still maintain that Prince Mohammed was not involved. Five of those involved may face execution and six others are facing charges in Saudi Arabia.
Notably, Saudi Arabia is a crucial ally of the United States in the Middle East, and these accusations against part of the royal family could be harmful toward U.S.-Saudi relations. However, since new details have been released, the U.S. has placed sanctions upon 17 individuals involved, reported the New York Times. Earlier, visas of 21 people allegedly involved were rescinded, noted the BBC.
Khashoggi’s murder has set off an alarm around the world, highlighting how the Saudi Arabian government has been tough on critics. And, this outrage is compounded by the obscurity of the details of the case.
“I think it has caused an outcry around the world because of the backlash against journalists over the past couple of months,” said Annie Lalenik, a sophomore and political science major. “It was so vicious and unfortunate what was done to the journalist – the way that he was treated and chopped up. It was just horrific.”
“The act was so blatant,” said professor of journalism Sheryl McCarthy. “[He] walks into an official building and gets murdered within minutes after he got there. How would you feel if somebody walked into the White House, journalist [or] anybody, and got murdered because they were out of favor with the government?”
“Saudi Arabia is one of America’s allies, and has been for some time, but the practices of its government are so backwards. It’s treatment of women, its treatment of journalists and ordinary citizens who criticize the government,” Professor McCarthy continued to say. “In terms of human rights the government just has a long long way to go, and this is a dramatization of that.”