Turkish President Erdogan promised to reveal “naked truth” about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday, precisely what he didn’t say.
Surely he’s well informed by Turkish intelligence, its information likely gotten by bugging Riyadh’s Istanbul consulate. Washington likely has the same information gotten the same or a similar way.
On Monday, Turkish media reported that surveillance video showed a member of the 15-member Saudi hit squad sent by Riyadh to murder Khashoggi, Mustafa al-Madani, leaving the Saudi consulate dressed in his clothes with a fake beard and glasses.
The subterfuge was to claim he left alive unharmed alive well before the kingdom admitted killing him, different versions of his death presented, each fabricated to shift blame on others for what crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) surely ordered.
On Monday, a car with diplomatic plates was discovered in a private Istanbul parking lot – matching a vehicle seen outside the Saudi consulate.
Another car with no license plates was removed from the consulate on Monday by a tow truck.
On the same day, a source close to kingdom ruling authorities told Middle East Eye (MEE) that Riyadh dispatched Tiger Squad intelligence/military/security assassins to Istanbul to eliminate Khashoggi.
MEE called its members “unflinchingly loyal to Riyadh’s young crown prince, commonly known as MBS,” adding:
“The Tiger Squad’s mission is to covertly assassinate Saudi dissidents, inside the kingdom and on foreign soil, in a way that goes unnoticed by the media, the international community and politicians, the source said.”
Riyadh believes “arresting critics will mount pressure on them, so that’s why they started assassinating them quietly,” according to a source MEE said is “well placed.”
Tiger Squad assassins use various methods to eliminate regime critics, at times how Khashoggi was eliminated, other times by a deadly virus, house fires, car crashes or other deadly accidents.
It’s unclear who commands the assassin team, maybe MBS directly. According to MEE’s source, he chose “five of his most loyal and trustworthy members of his personal security detail to serve in the Tiger Squad.”
They were part of the 15-man team sent to Istanbul to murder Khashoggi, including Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, the key member, according MEE’s source, “chosen by MBS himself, who depends on him and is close to him,” the source said, adding:
“The crown prince selected his close details in the squad in order for him to stay in direct contact with it and supervise the assassinations” from Riyadh.
MEE’s source said “MBS always said that he will cut off the fingers of every writer who criticizes him.” His hit squad team brought Khashoggi’s fingers to the crown prince, likely on orders.
According to Al Jazeera, one hit squad member phoned MBS four times from Istanbul on October 2, the day Khashoggi disappeared, likely Mutrib.
Turkey reportedly intercepted these and other calls he made to Riyadh that day, seven to MBS’ office, to him and/or his personal secretary.
The Turkish language Yeni Safak broadsheet reported similar information to the above.
Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party spokesman Omer Celik said “(w)e are being careful so nobody tries to cover the issue up.”
“The truth will come out. Those responsible will be punished. Something like this will not cross anybody’s mind any more.”
A Final Comment
Erdogan is a ruthless despot, ruling with an iron fist, heading a virtual dictatorship masquerading as democratic.
Anyone criticizing or challenging his leadership risks imprisonment, including public figures, journalists, academics, other intellectuals, human rights activists, even young children – on charges ranging from insulting the president to terrorism, espionage or treason.
He purged or imprisoned over 100,000 regime critics – from the judiciary, military, police, media and academia in the aftermath of the failed summer 2016 coup against him.
He uses emergency powers to target dissent, aimed at consolidating unchallenged power – disappearing opponents by extrajudicial killings, torture, and other flagrant human rights abuses.
Criticizing MBS for eliminating Khashoggi can’t conceal horrendous Turkish human rights abuses under his leadership.