An assassination squad of 15 men disembarked two charter planes in the Turkish city of Istanbul Tuesday on the orders of the Saudi royal court. After checking in to two hotels, the men laid in wait until Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate, where they killed him and then dismembered him with a bone saw. The assassins then left the country, flying to Cairo and Dubai.
One official, who likened the incident to a scene from “Pulp Fiction,” said Turkish authorities have a video of Khashoggi’s murder.
That claim was backed up by Kemal Ozturk, a columnist in a pro-government newspaper, who told a pro-government TV network Tuesday: “There is a video of the moment of him being killed.”
Turkish authorities came to the conclusion on Saturday that Khashoggi was murdered inside the embassy — four days after he disappeared — and informed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of their suspicions on the same day.
Erdogan has reportedly ordered government officials to brief media outlets on the killing, though none have spoken on the record and Erdogan has not publicly accused Riyadh of the assassination.
A critic of the Saudi regime who lived in fear of retribution from Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Khashoggi went missing after entering the consulate on Oct. 2 to get documents for his upcoming marriage. His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, waited outside for him to come out, but he never did.
A Turkish television station broadcast CCTV footage Tuesday showing Khashoggi entering the embassy. Shortly after, a black van was seen driving away from the consulate to the consul’s home a mile away. The vehicle was then parked in a garage.
Further camera footage broadcast Wednesday showed the 15 men entering Istanbul airport, checking into the hotel and leaving the country hours later.
The pro-Erdogan Sabah newspaper published images Wednesday alongside the names of the “assassination squad.” Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, one of the men named, is head of forensic evidence at the Saudi General Security Department.
Bin Salman has denied the allegations and officials from the Kingdom dismissed the claims as “baseless.” However, the consulate has so far refused to release CCTV footage showing Khashoggi’s leaving the building.
Citing unnamed Turkish officials, The Guardian reported Wednesday that security camera footage was removed from the consulate and Turkish staff were abruptly told to take a holiday the day Khashoggi disappeared.
Erdogan has called on the Saudis to prove Khashoggi left the embassy, as they claim. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it will search the Saudi Consulate as part of its investigation into the disappearance.
Pressure is also growing within the international community to push the Saudis into an explanation.
“At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance,” Cengiz, wrote in a Washington Post column Wednesday. “I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”
Trump, whose first overseas trip as president was to Saudi Arabia, said he had not yet spoken to bin Salman, “but I will be at some point,” he told reporters Tuesday.
Cover image: A CCTV image reportedly showing Jamal Khashoggi entering the Saudi embassy on Oct. 2.