ISTANBUL—Turkish authorities have a second recording of a Saudi hit team murdering Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi that reportedly contradicts conclusions made by the official Saudi investigation and further implicates Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the prominent Turkish newspaper columnist who broke the story of the first tape.
The 15-minute recording reportedly provides evidence the killing was premeditated, despite claims by Saudi investigators that Khashoggi was killed only after an effort was made to persuade him to return to the Kingdom voluntarily.
If shared with Western intelligence services as the first one has been, the second recording is likely to strengthen the CIA’s reported conclusion the Saudi crown prince, widely known by the initials MBS, gave the order to kill The Washington Post columnist.
Intercepts of the crown prince’s phone calls in the days before the killing and a call by a member of the 15-member hit team after the murder underlay the CIA conclusion, along with an assessment that the crown prince maintains close control of all major policy actions, the Post and The New York Times reported.
The second recording was made the day Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, seeking papers that would allow him to marry a Turkish woman, columnist Abdulkadir Selvi reported in the newspaper Hurriyet.
The recording details members of the Saudi team discussing how to carry out the assassination of Khashoggi, Selvi said. Team members reviewed the plan and discussed the assigned role of each member in the execution.
Selvi was the first Turkish journalist to report—on Oct. 22—the existence of a seven-minute recording of Khashoggi’s last minutes alive.
His newest report contradicts the finding announced Thursday by Saudi chief prosecutor Shaalan al-Shalan that Khashoggi was murdered only after an attempt was made to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia voluntarily. The prosecutor’s statement said Khashoggi died after he was injected with an overdose of an unstated drug.
But the Turkish recording allegedly shows he was strangled by the killers amid shouting and a physical struggle, Hurriyet said. There was “no effort” to convince Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia voluntarily, Selvi notes.
Turkish authorities also did not confirm that Khashoggi died of a drug overdose, but believe that he was strangled with a rope or a plastic bag, Selvi said.
One member of the Saudi team, Salah Mohammed Abdah Tubaigy, then proceeded to dismember Khashoggi into 15 parts, as other members of the group removed evidence of the crime, the report said. Tubaigi, a colonel in the Saudi armed forces, heads the Saudi Scientific Council of Forensics.
After the murder and dismemberment, a member of the Saudi hit team telephoned a senior Saudi official to report on the execution, Selvi said, citing a conversation that Turkish officials monitored.
The Saudi prosecutor announced that 11 members of the assassination squad had been indicted and he asked for the death penalty for five of them – without naming them or stating the role each had played. At the same time, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said that MBS had “absolutely nothing to do” with Khashoggi’s murder.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted for weeks that the murder was premeditated and had been ordered from the highest level of the Saudi government.
Saudi official statements have repeatedly changed from the day Khashoggi disappeared, but the crude cover-up organized by the Saudi hit team – dressing a member of the team in Khashoggi's clothes and having him walk around Istanbul’s main tourist area until he ducked into a men’s lavatory and threw away the clothes and fake beard—quickly fell apart.
Key elements of the mystery remain unresolved, however, including what happened to Khashoggi’s remains and the identity of the local “collaborator” to whom they allegedly were entrusted.