Tuesday, September 10, 2019

'You will suffocate me': Jamal Khashoggi's last words revealed in transcript of killing from secret recording

A transcript of Jamal Khashoggi's final moments captured on hidden microphones inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul has been published for the first time.

The haunting recordings reveal how a Saudi hit-squad sent to take care of the dissident journalist discussed how his body would be dismembered after his death, referring to him as the 'animal to be sacrificed.'

The men were then recorded telling Khashoggi to write a text message to his son in order to cover their tracks, before drugging him and placing a bag over his head.

'I have asthma. Do not do it, you will suffocate me,' Khashoggi is heard saying in his final words before sounds of a struggle and his body being dismembered are heard.

While details from the tape have been revealed piecemeal in the 11 months since his death, the publication of the transcript by Turkey's Daily Sabah reveals the full picture of how the murder transpired.

The audio was captured by Turkey's National Intelligence Organisation on microphones hidden inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Khashoggi, a former Saudi regime insider turned critic, had gone to the consulate that day in order to sign marriage papers so he could wed his partner, Hatice Cengiz.

Instead he was dragged into a back room where he was killed while she waited for him outside.

Saudi Arabia has admitted Khashoggi's killing was a premeditated act carried out by government agents, but said they were 'rogue elements' who acted without official authorisation.

However, international observers and critics of the regime believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, gave the order himself.

Eleven of the 15-strong hit squad have since been put on trial for murder, including five who are facing the death penalty.

The first part of the recording details a conversation between Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, the deputy commander of the hit squad, and Dr. Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, the head of Forensic Evidence at the Saudi General Security Department who was in charge of dismembering Khashoggi's body.

The tape is time-stamped 1.02pm, just 12 minutes before Khashoggi arrived at the consulate.

'Is it possible to put the body in a bag?' Mutreb can be heard asking.

Al-Tubaigy responds: 'No. Too heavy, very tall too. Actually, I've always worked on cadavers. I know how to cut very well.

'I have never worked on a warm body though, but I'll also manage that easily. I normally put on my earphones and listen to music when I cut cadavers. In the meantime, I sip on my coffee and smoke.

'After I dismember it, you will wrap the parts into plastic bags, put them in suitcases and take them out (of the building).'

Khashoggi's final moments, in full

Mutreb: Leave a message for your son.

Khashoggi: What should I tell my son?

Mutreb: You will write a message, let's rehearse; show it to us.

Khashoggi: What should I say, 'see you soon'?

Unidentified man: Cut it short.

Mutreb: You will write something like 'I'm in Istanbul. Don't worry if you cannot reach me.'

Khashoggi: I shouldn't say kidnapped.

Unidentified man: Take your jacket off.

Khashoggi: How can such a thing take place at a consulate? I'm not writing anything.

Unidentified man: Cut it short.

Khashoggi: I'm not writing anything.

Mutreb: Write it, Mr. Jamal. Hurry up. Help us so we can help you, because in the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia and if you don't help us you know what will happen eventually.

Khashoggi: There is a towel here. Will you have me drugged?

Al-Tubaigy: We will put you to sleep.

Khashoggi was then drugged, telling his captors 'do not keep my mouth closed' as they placed a plastic bag over his head.

'I have asthma. Do not do it, you will suffocate me,' Khashoggi says in his final words.

Sounds of suffocation and struggling are then heard, with brief pieces of discussion between the hit-squad who question whether he is still moving.

At one point someone says to 'keep pushing'.

At 1.39pm the sound of an autopsy saw is heard as the team begins dismembering Khashoggi's body. The procedure continues for 30 minutes.

It is thought the pieces of Khashoggi's body were then packed into suitcases and carried out of the embassy. His remains have never been found.