The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was planned by Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s (widely known as MBS) media adviser, the Wall Street Journal reported.
According to the report Saud al-Qahtani, known for his work for the crown prince as a social media adviser, is now considered the man behind the Khashoggi case as both planner and director of the operation.
According to the WSJ article “Behind Saudi Prince’s Crackdown Was Confidant Tied to Khashoggi Killing,” al-Qahtani is now under criminal investigation and fired from his job as media adviser.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, disappeared Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to receive paperwork he needed to get married.
Once inside the consulate, he was immediately strangled and then dismembered, according to the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office. The case has brought near unprecedented international scrutiny on Saudi Arabia and its powerful crown prince, whom Khashoggi had openly criticized.
The article also reported that al-Qahtani first tried to convince Khashoggi to return to Riyadh but when he failed, he planned the murder. The article questions whether or not the crown prince was aware of the plot since al-Qahtani was known as his “right-hand.”
Revealing the WhatsApp messages of al-Qahtani to Khashoggi, the article shows that he tried to convince Khashoggi to return to his hometown by saying: “The crown prince values your role as an editor. He wants you back in Saudi Arabia.” When Khashoggi’ refused the request, Saudi Arabia banned his son Salah from leaving the kingdom, a ban that was lifted last week with Salah going to the U.S.
Although it has been more than a month, the killing of Khashoggi continues to be a mystery as the body is still yet to be found. In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey knows the perpetrators are among the 18 suspects detained in Saudi Arabia.
On the same day Khashoggi disappeared, 15 Saudis, many of them Saudi intelligence operatives, arrived in Istanbul and visited the consulate at the time of the disappearance. Three others arrived a day before the incident. All of these individuals have since left Turkey and were later arrested by Saudi authorities.