Saudi Arabia is shifting its narrative once more regarding how the murder of Khashoggi took place. Based on new evidence, the Kingdom’s public prosecution office released a statement on Thursday, November 15th, announcing that the killing of Mr. Khashoggi at the Istanbul Consulate was carried out by a team of Saudi Intelligence Agents. The team were allegedly dispatched only a few hours prior to the murder and were acting on an ‘impulse.’ This discovery contradicts Saudi Arabia’s earlier claim that the murder was premeditated.
Among the 21 suspects in custody, the prosecution ordered the death penalty for five operatives and charged six others with crimes related to the murder, all of which it has refused to identify publicly at the moment. The United States, in its harshest response to the case yet, ordered economic sanctions on 17 Saudi operatives, which included the crown prince’s close aide Saud Al-Qahtani, the intelligence agent Mr. Maher Abulaziz Mutreb who often travelled as part of the prince’s security detail and Salah Tubaigy, the autopsy specialist that Turkey claims had dismembered Khashoggi’s corpse. This decision was taken following the release and appears to be in support of the investigation results yielded by the Saudi Prosecution.
According to the Saudi General Attorney Shalaan Bin Shalaan, Khashoggi’s presence in Turkey was considered a threat to the Saudi Kingdom. This is why, days before the murder, the deputy head of Saudi Intelligence Ahmed Al Assiri ordered an operation to persuade him to return home and to use force if necessary. This lead to Mr. Khashoggi’s altercation in the Turkish Consulate on October the 2nd, which led to his murder. He was not strangled, as previously declared, but was instead restrained and injected with a large amount of tranquilizer that prompted an overdose. Shalaan said that the “leader” of the team, upon failing to convince Khashoggi during the altercation, decided to kill him on the spot out of his own volition. The prosecution does not blame Al Assiri nor Al-Qahtani of ordering the killing, re-asserting their claim that the murder was an act of rogue agents that stepped outside the chain of authority.
In a press conference that followed the release, Mr. Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Foreign Minister, announced that Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had nothing to do with the murder.
“SOMETIMES MISTAKES HAPPEN … SOMETIMES PEOPLE EXCEED THEIR AUTHORITY.” – ADEL AL-JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER.
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign affairs reaffirmed its trust in the process and accountability of the Saudi investigation, citing that the thorough investigation shows that Saudi Arabia was both serious and transparent in search for the truth. On the other hand, the Turkish Foreign Affairs Ministry dismissed the results of the investigation and declared it as unsatisfying. They are still hanging on to their claim that Khashoggi was dismembered and that the Saudi Intelligence team brought in the necessary tools to carry out the murder, which would prove that it had been their intention in advance.
Turkish Officials claim that they have audio recordings that prove Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered. They have yet to release full transcripts of the recordings or share with the public how they were made.