AFTER almost one year, audio recordings of the horrifying conversations between the 15-man Saudi hit squad and their victim, Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post journalist, has been revealed to the public for the first time by the Turkish authorities.
Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper on Monday shared one of the recordings prior to and during the October 2, 2018 murder of the dissident journalist at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives in the country’s consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 after he arrived at the consulate building to complete marriage procedures.
The newspaper revealed that the audios were obtained by Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) right after the gruesome incident, and were shared with related Turkish authorities carrying out an investigation into the incident, as well as with international officials and institutions.
One of the recordings of the conversations between Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, the number two man of the hit squad, and Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, the head of Forensic Evidence at the Saudi General Security Department who was in charge of dismembering Khashoggi’s body was are stamped 1:02 p.m., just 12 minutes before Khashoggi arrived at the consulate building to complete marriage procedures.
In the recording, Mutreb is heard asking Al-Tubaigy if it was possible to put the body in a bag? to which Al-Tubaigy response was– “No. Too heavy, very tall too. Actually, I’ve always worked on cadavers. I know how to cut very well. I have never worked on a warm body though, but I’ll also manage that easily. I normally put on my earphones and listen to music when I cut cadavers.
“In the meantime, I sip on my coffee and smoke. After I dismember it, you will wrap the parts into plastic bags, put them in suitcases and take them out”.
The ensuing conversation had Al-Tubaigy saying, “My superior at the Forensic Evidence does not know what I’m doing. There is no one to protect me.”
Few second late, Mutreb asks whether the “animal to be sacrificed” has arrived. At 1:14 p.m., while an unidentified member of the hit squad says “(he) is here.”
Khashoggi is then ushered into the room by Mutreb.
According to the released recordings, Khashoggi is greeted by a familiar face or someone he knows, gauging from his reaction. He is told that the Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi is also present in the building. First, he is politely invited into the consul’s office on the second floor. When he starts to get suspicious, he is pulled by the arm. He then says;”Let me go, what do you think you’re doing?”
“Please sit. We have to take you back [to Riyadh]. There is an order from Interpol. Interpol demanded you be returned. We are here to take you.”
However, the journalist said that there were no lawsuits against him, telling his captors that his girlfriend was waiting for him outside.
Mutreb was later heard hassling the journalist to send a message to his son telling him that he was in Istanbul and not to worry as he won’t be able to reach him for a while.
“I shouldn’t say kidnapped?” Khashoggi was heard firing back at his murderers. “How can such a thing take place at a consulate? I’m not writing anything,” he kept insisting.
“Write it, Mr Jamal. Hurry up. Help us so we can help you because in the end, we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don’t help us you know what will happen eventually,” Mutreb said in response
“There is a towel here. Will you have me drugged? the journalist queried. “We will put you to sleep,” the henchman had said.
After he was drugged, Khashoggi says “do not keep my mouth closed. I have asthma. Do not do it, you will suffocate me.” These were Khashoggi’s last words.
He was later suffocated by his killers with a plastic bag. Before Khashoggi gives his final breath, scuffling and suffocation sounds continued for a while. Then the postmortem phase begins, which include sounds of dismembering Khashoggi’s body with an autopsy saw for the next 30 minutes.
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, in her report stated that evidence suggests Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and other senior Saudi officials were liable for Khashoggi’s murder and called for sanctions to be imposed on the kingdom.
Initially denying and later downplaying the incident as an accidental killing in a fistfight, Riyadh finally admitted almost three weeks after the disappearance that Khashoggi was murdered in a premeditated fashion but denied any involvement of the royal family.