The Middle East Eye first reported the gruesome details of the recording of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi's death obtained by Turkish authorities. Their report has now been confirmed by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
Citing Turkish officials who've listened to the recording, the Wall Street Journal reported last night that Khashoggi's was not accidentally killed while under interrogation as the Saudi government is reportedly preparing to admit. Officials say he wasn't interrogated at all.
The recording indicates how Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the office of the Saudi consul general, Mohammad al-Otaibi, minutes after he walked into the consulate building on Oct. 2, said people familiar with the matter. Mr. Khashoggi wasn’t interrogated, the people said. Instead, he was beaten up, drugged and killed by Saudi operatives who had flown in from Riyadh earlier in the day, the people said.
Then, on the recording, a voice can be heard inviting the consul to leave the room, the people familiar with the matter said. The voice of a man Turkish authorities identified as Saudi forensic specialist Salah Al Tabiqi can be heard recommending other people present to listen to some music while he dismembered Mr. Khashoggi’s body, the people said.
The New York Times reported a slightly conflicting account this morning that still corroborates the majority of previous reports.
The Times reports that Khashoggi was very briefly interrogated, but the outcome was still the same. They also report that the Saudi ambassador to Turkey was threatened by the agents doing the killing.
ISTANBUL — His killers were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. They severed his fingers during an interrogation and later beheaded and dismembered him, according to details from audio recordings published in the Turkish news media on Wednesday. [...]
After he was shown into the office of the Saudi consul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, the agents seized Mr. Khashoggi almost immediately and began to beat and torture him, eventually cutting off his fingers, the senior Turkish official said.
“Do this outside. You will put me in trouble,” Mr. al-Otaibi, the consul, told them, according to the Turkish official and the report in Yeni Safak, both citing audio recordings said to have been obtained by Turkish intelligence.
“If you want to live when you come back to Arabia, shut up,” one of the agents replied, according to both the official and the newspaper. [...]
As they cut off Mr. Khashoggi’s head and dismembered his body, a doctor of forensics who had been brought along for the dissection and disposal had some advice for the others, according to the senior Turkish official.
Listen to music, he told them, as he put on headphones himself. That was what he did to ease the tension when doing such work, the official said, describing the contents of the audio recording.
I certainly don't revel in sharing the details of this macabre killing, but in this case the details matter a great deal.
Half a dozen news organizations from the Middle East to London and America are now reporting the contents of these recordings and the reports tells us that even the admission of guilt the Saudi government was preparing to release is a lie.
The Saudi government was reportedly going to admit that Khashoggi was killed during an "interrogation gone wrong," but if he was questioned at all it's clear that he was going to be killed. Even the New York Times' account which says he was briefly interrogated also says they cut his fingers off while interrogating him.
Meanwhile, Trump is still running interference for the Saudis, telling reporters last night that there's no proof of what happened. Trump also told reporters this morning that we 'need the Saudis' in the fight against terrorism, which is obviously crazy because, from Yemen to Turkey, the Saudis are terrorizing plenty of people.
When Trump says he won't jeopardize our relationship with the Saudis over this, what he's really saying is he won't jeopardize his own relationship with them. The Saudis have pumped tens of millions of dollars into Trump's businesses and I'm certain they know things about him that he wouldn't to see released to the public.
Trump is deeply compromised by the worst governments in the world.