U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was heavily criticized after he was seen laughing and cracking jokes with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the gruesome murder of a Saudi journalist.
Jamal Khashoggi, 59, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate building on Oct. 2nd. He was there to pick up documentation to prove his divorce so he could marry his fiancée.
According to published reports, Khashoggi was tortured inside the General consul’s office within 7 minutes of his arrival.
His fingers were cut off with a buzzsaw one by one as he sat at the consul’s desk. He was then dragged into a nearby office and thrown on a table where he was surgically dismembered while still alive.
Forensics expert Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who works for the Saudi royal family, reportedly told the assassins to put on headphones and listen to music to drown out the screams while dismembering Khashoggi.
The journalist was then injected with an unknown substance to silence him.
Consul General Mohammed al-Otabi was overheard on an audio tape nervously telling the men to “do this outside or you’ll get me in trouble.”
Otabi later fled the country on a commercial airliner.
Khashoggi was told by consulate officials that the documents were not ready. He agreed to return to the consulate on Tuesday, Oct. 2nd.
Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz, 36, accompanied him to the consulate building on Tuesday. He turned over his 2 mobile phones to her and activated the recording function on his Apple Smart Watch before entering the consulate.
There are conflicting reports that Khashoggi’s murder was captured in audio sent to his mobile phone from his Apple Watch. But other reports say Turkish officials had the consulate building bugged with concealed microphones.
Surveillance cameras outside the consulate building show Khashoggi walking into the building. The same cameras showed his fiancée waiting patiently for 10 hours for him to return.
Turkish police believe 15 members of an elite Saudi “hit squad” carried out the hit on the orders of Saudi’s crown prince who was upset with Khashoggi for writing damaging stories about him.
Audio obtained by Turkish officials prove Khhashoggi was killed inside the consulate. But Saudi officials initially claimed he left the building alive.
A Turkish newspaper published the names and pictures of the 15-man hit squad, including Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, who previously worked as a diplomat at the Saudi embassy, and was recently photographed on multiple occasions with the crown prince.
The 15-man assassination team arrived in Istanbul on 2 private jets in the middle of the night on Tuesday morning. The last jet carrying the hit squad departed Istanbul by 9 p.m. the day of the murder.
Khashoggi, a well-known journalist for a Saudi newspaper, was a close friend of the Saudi royal family until he turned on the crown prince, who famously rounded up at least 10 Saudi princes and other government officials and tortured them in a luxury hotel. The kidnappings were part of the Crown Prince Mohammed’s power grab.
Khashoggi reportedly feared for his life when he fled his native Saudi Arabia and moved to Washington, D.C. to seek exile last year. He was hired by the Washington Post as a columnist. His last post was published in September.
Pompeo defended his actions in Saudi Arabia, saying he wasn’t interested in discussing the facts of the case with reporters. He added that the Saudis didn’t want to talk about the case either.
Critics say Pompeo was sent to Saudi Arabia to protect America’s oil interests. President Trump took a defensive tone when asked about the Saudis link to Khashoggi’s murder.
“Here we go again with, you know, ‘You’re guilty until proven innocent.’ I don’t like that,” said Trump. “We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh, and he was innocent all the way, as far as I’m concerned.”
Khashoggi’s family are calling for an independent investigation into Khashoggi’s murder — apart from the ones being conducted by Turkish and Saudi officials.
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