There are new reports with additional details of the Saudi government’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. The New York Times states that the order to kill Khashoggi came from the highest levels of the government:
Top Turkish security officials have concluded that the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on orders from the highest levels of the royal court, a senior official said Tuesday.
The official described a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate by a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose.
The newest details back up the initial reports of the murder and how it was carried out, and they show that the murder was carefully planned and organized well in advance. The latest reports confirm that everything that the Saudi government has said about this so far has been a brazen lie. The administration ought to denounce this heinous act in the strongest possible terms, and Congress should start by blocking arms sales to the Saudi coalition and voting to cut off military assistance for the war on Yemen. No one believes the Saudis’ self-serving claims about this crime.
Turkish journalists have been reporting what they believe to be the names of the Saudi agents, and several of the agents have been identified as belonging to the Saudi security services. The Times report continues:
Fifteen Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights last Tuesday, the day Mr. Khashoggi disappeared, the official said.
All 15 left just a few hours later, and Turkey has now identified the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services, the official said. One was an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body, the official said [bold mine-DL].
The Daily Beast interviewed the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker:
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday that “everything today points to” the idea that Saudi journalist and legal U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi was murdered last week inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Corker told The Daily Beast that his view was reaffirmed after viewing classified intelligence about the disappearance of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and fierce critic of the Saudi government, from inside a secure area of the Capitol.
Additional details strengthen the case that the murder was premeditated. The Guardian reports:
Security camera footage was removed from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Turkish staff were abruptly told to take a holiday on the day the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared while inside the building, Turkish authorities have claimed.
These reports tell us about a cold, calculated hit that was carried out against a relatively mild critic of the Saudi government’s policies. It seems clear that the Saudi government planned to kill him when he returned to the consulate for his appointment, and then proceeded to do exactly that. It is another in a string of outrageous attacks on journalists, and it sets a terrible precedent that other governments in the region and around the world may be tempted to copy. The Saudi government has to be held to account and forced to pay a high price both for what it has done and to discourage other states from doing the same thing to their own critics abroad.