Khashoggi mur­dered by a team formed months ago

The crown prince’s ‘ Tiger Squad,’ which was formed in the sum­mer of 2018 to kill dis­si­dents, is the cul­prit be­hind the Khashoggi mur­der, me­dia out­lets re­ported yes­ter­day

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

WHILE there have been many ques­tions sur­round­ing the mur­der of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi, it has been claimed that a group from a spe­cial Saudi team, known as the “tiger team,” killed the jour­nal­ist. Sources speak­ing to BBC Ara­bic said on Wed­nes­day that the jour­nal­ist was killed by a unit from the tiger team, which is led by Saud al-Qah­tani, known as the “right arm” of Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Sal­man. The 50-mem­ber tiger team was re­port­edly formed in the sum­mer of 2018 for the pur­pose of killing dis­si­dents within the coun­try and abroad.

THE TIGER Squad, known as the Firqat el-Nemr in Ara­bic, is a group that con­sists of 50 well-trained armed per­son­nel with dif­fer­ent ar­eas of ex­per­tise cho­sen from var­i­ous branches of Saudi se­cu­rity ser­vices. The mem­bers of the squad are also known for their loy­alty to MBS. Their job is to track down dis­si­dents and they rarely shy away from get­ting their hands dirty – a point made starkly ev­i­dent in the Khashoggi case.

Khashoggi, a Saudi na­tional, was killed on Oct. 2 af­ter en­ter­ing the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul. Khashoggi, 59, had been liv­ing in the U.S. for a year in self­im­posed ex­ile and writ­ing columns for the opin­ion sec­tion of The Wash­ing­ton Post. Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment from Is­tan­bul’s chief pros­e­cu­tor’s of­fice, once in­side Khashoggi was im­me­di­ately stran­gled and then dis­mem­bered. Pre­vi­ously, Turk­ish and Saudi of­fi­cials con­ducted a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the Saudi con­sul gen­eral’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence last month.

While the killing of the jour­nal­ist has caused in­ter­na­tional out­rage, Turkey has gone to great lengths to con­duct a trans­par­ent in­ves­ti­ga­tion and help un­veil the truth about what hap­pened to the re­mains of the jour­nal­ist. Ankara has been stress­ing that Saudi Ara­bia needs to hold those re­spon­si­ble ac­count­able and pro­vide the nec­es­sary an­swers. De­spite in­ter­na­tional out­cry and Turkey’s ef­forts, there have been no of­fi­cial state­ments from Saudi of­fi­cials about the re­mains of the jour­nal­ist.

Nu­man Kur­tul­muş, deputy head of the rul­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AK Party), said yes­ter­day, “Turkey will con­tinue to share ev­ery new de­tail and in­for­ma­tion with those con­cerned and ful­fill its re­spon­si­bil­ity of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent.” He un­der­scored that though the mur­der of the jour­nal­ist has po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic as­pects, hu­man­i­tar­ian con­cerns take prece­dence in the case.

High-level of­fi­cials in Ankara have been em­pha­siz­ing that Saudi of­fi­cials need to say who or­dered the killing and that those re­spon­si­ble should be pun­ished. In re­la­tion to the in­ci­dent, Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan pre­vi­ously said he didn’t be­lieve “for a sec­ond” that King Sal­man or­dered the killing of the dis­si­dent jour­nal­ist. He also un­der­scored that even though Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia en­joy friendly re­la­tions, Turkey will not “turn a blind eye to the pre­med­i­tated mur­der that un­folded in front of our very eyes.”


Fol­low­ing the mur­der of the jour­nal­ist, there have been in­creas­ing de­mands that Saudi Ara­bia be brought to jus­tice, in­clud­ing in­sis­tence on strong penal­ties for the coun­try. Ac­cord­ingly, U.S. law­mak­ers have been call­ing for sanc­tions against Saudi Ara­bia over Khashoggi’s death. U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ap­pears re­luc­tant, while Se­nate Repub­li­cans aim to sus­pend ne­go­ti­a­tions with Saudi Ara­bia for a nu­clear tech­nol­ogy shar­ing agree­ment.

Trump said Wed­nes­day that he was con­sult­ing Congress on how to re­spond to the mur­der and called Khashoggi’s death a “very sad thing, very ter­ri­ble thing.” The U.S. pres­i­dent added that he would have “a very strong opin­ion” to of­fer next week on the killing, un­der­lin­ing that his ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing with Turkey and Saudi Ara­bia to de­ter­mine what hap­pened to Khashoggi.

Amid the on­go­ing in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism of Saudi Ara­bia, King Sal­man has be­gun a do­mes­tic tour with his first stop in the con­ser­va­tive heart­land of Qas­sim prov­ince, where he par­doned pris­on­ers serv­ing time on fi­nan­cial charges and an­nounced an in­vest­ment of 16 bil­lion riyals ($4.27 bil­lion) for new projects.

This is the king’s first such tour since he as­cended to the throne in 2015 and comes as the king­dom faces in­ter­na­tional pres­sure fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent in the Saudi Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul last month.

Re­gard­ing the mur­der of Khashoggi, the pres­sure on the coun­try’s crown prince, who has de­nied any in­volve­ment in the killing, has in­creased as well.

Me­dia re­ports claimed yes­ter­day that the Saudi crown prince held a meet­ing with a group of Evan­ge­lists close to the U.S. gov­ern­ment in Riyadh last week with in an at­tempt to ease the re­ac­tion of the U.S., say­ing that he will pun­ish those re­spon­si­ble.


Mean­while, for­mer U.S. Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency con­trac­tor and whistleblower Ed­ward Snow­den claimed on Wed­nes­day that soft­ware made by an Is­raeli cy­ber se­cu­rity firm was used to track the slain jour­nal­ist.

Speak­ing at a con­fer­ence in Tel Aviv via a video call from Rus­sia, Snow­den said, “The truth is that they pur­sued some of his friends through a pro­gram writ­ten by the Is­raeli com­pany,” and added that Pe­ga­sus spy­ware sold to gov­ern­ments by NSO Group Tech­nolo­gies was used to track op­po­nents.

Snow­den said the smart­phone of one of Khashoggi’s friends, who was liv­ing in ex­ile in Canada, had been in­fected with NSO’s Pe­ga­sus spy­ware. He high­lighted that the soft­ware al­lowed the Saudis to col­lect in­for­ma­tion about the slain jour­nal­ist.

To in­crease pres­sure on Riyadh to re­veal the truth about the mur­der, a ma­jor jour­nal­ists’ union in the U.K. ear­lier this week said gov­ern­ments across the world have a well-stocked tool­box to pun­ish those re­spon­si­ble.

A Na­tional Union of Jour­nal­ists (NUJ) spokesper­son told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the union sup­ports the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists’ call for gov­ern­ments to end their co­op­er­a­tion with the Saudi gov­ern­ment un­til it “tells the truth and ar­rests the per­pe­tra­tors.”

The group re­it­er­ated its call on the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment “to en­sure there is a full and in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into the killing” of jour­nal­ist Khashoggi, the spokesper­son said, adding, “There must be no im­punity.”

“All gov­ern­ments can act - they have eco­nomic levers, diplo­matic tools and in­ter­na­tional in­stru­ments to seek to bring the killers and those who or­dered it to jus­tice,” said an NUJ state­ment.

A demon­stra­tor holds a poster with a pic­ture of Saudi jour­nal­ist Ja­mal Khashoggi out­side Saudi Ara­bia's Con­sulate in Is­tan­bul, Oct. 25.

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