Istanbul, Turkey—Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, a Saudi doctor and forensics expert, is reportedly responsible for the death of the missing Saudi journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi.
On Oct. 2, Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and columnist for The Washington Post, vanished after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Turkish government says that Khashoggi was murdered and his body hidden.
Al-Tubaigy was seen entering Istanbul by the airport’s CCTV. What followed is more akin to a thriller script than to reality. According to Turkish officials, who claim that the whole operation was recorded by the journalist’s Apple watch, the doctor proceeded to dismember Khashoggi with a bone-saw. Judging from the recording, Khashoggi was still alive whilst the doctor hacked him to pieces. Al-Tubaigy is heard recommending to members of the Saudi death-squad to wear headphones and listen to music to avoid the grim sounds of the operation. It appears that the Saudi hit-team was comprised of 15 secret service and intelligence officers.
Turkish police officials claim that Khashoggi’s remains were deposited in either a forest-park in Istanbul or in the city of Yalova, which is near to the place of the crime.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has denied reports that he heard the recording.
Al-Tubaigy studied in the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He also worked as a forensic specialist at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, Australia. It was at the latter establishment that he presumably acquired his expertise in autopsies. The Saudi government funded both programs. He is also a member of the country’s Interior Ministry.
“When he approached the institute, he was interested in our CT scanning. . . The technology is particularly useful in times of disaster as you don’t have to do an autopsy. His interest was in that because he said he was in charge of responding to mass disasters in Saudi Arabia, and had an interest in the deaths of hajj pilgrims during the pilgrimage,” said Prof Noel Woodford, the Institute’s director.
Reports on Saudi state television claim that Khashoggi did indeed die in the consulate. They asserted, however, that it was after a brawl broke out.
Hitherto, President Trump has voiced his support for the Saudi government and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (aka ‘MbS’), to whom his father, King Salman, has invested with vast powers. Since 2015, when his father assumed the throne, MbS has been surprisingly liberal: He finally allowed women to drive, and implemented socioeconomic reforms. But he also sidelined many members of the Saudi Royal family and consolidated power to the security and intelligence services.
Why is the president supporting MbS? For 110 billion reasons—Saudi Arabia has promised to purchase weapons worth $110 billion over the next decade from the U.S. So far, arms worth $15 billion have been sold.
Before his disappearance, the Saudi journalist was scheduled to give a speech at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston.