Jamal Khashoggi was killed by an unknown person when an argument became physical, and blows were exchanged in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, according to a state media report late Friday.
“Discussions between citizen Jamal Khashoggi and those who met him while he was in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul led to a brawl and a fistfight, which led to his death,” the report said, according to multiple U.S. media outlets.
The Saudi state media said the government’s investigation of Khashoggi’s death has resulted in the detention of 18 individuals who apparently had some role in the October 2 incident. The government’s investigation is not yet complete, so some or all of those detained could be released or charged.
Khashoggi’s disappearance quickly became an international issue because he was an opinion columnist for The Washington Post, well-known around the world as a critic of the Saudi royal family of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (pictured above left) and especially of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Khashoggi (pictured above center) was a Saudi citizen but worked for the newspaper with a temporary U.S. residency card. He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which have sprung multiple radical Islamic terrorist groups, and a friend of Osama bin Laden.
The state media also reported that two high-ranking Saudi officials have been fired by King Salman, including Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the number-two official in the country’s intelligence service. The other official let go, Saud al-Qahtani, managed the royal family’s media relations.
The fact that a top intelligence official and one of the most important communications managers in the government were let go may indicate the former is being made a scapegoat, and the latter is being punished for failing to contain the media driving a damaging scandal that quickly turned into an international crisis.
“The termination of the two officials was done by the king, not his heir apparent, the crown prince, which could be an indication the aging monarch is cleaning up an extremely ugly mess created by the younger man.
Also, the termination of the two officials was done by the king, not his heir apparent, the crown prince, which could be an indication the aging monarch is cleaning up an extremely ugly mess created by the younger man.
Turkish officials claimed to have audio recordings that provided strong evidence Khashoggi, who had been dropped off at the consulate by his fiancée to pick up divorce papers, was tortured for seven minutes before being beheaded.
Supposedly, a team of 15 Saudis who had arrived in Turkey earlier in the day on two private aircraft, dismembered Khashoggi’s body and disposed of it in some as-yet unknown manner.
President Donald Trump dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week for hastily convened discussions with Saudi and Turkish officials. Pompeo denied a media report Friday that he had listened to the Turkish recordings.
The White House issued a statement in response to the Saudi state media report, saying, “We will continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process. We are saddened to hear confirmation of Mr. Khashoggi’s death, and we offer our deepest condolences to his family, fiancée, and friends.”