Jamal Khashoggi's dismembered body was whisked out of Turkey and taken to Riyadh by one of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's bodyguards, a new report claims.
The mystery over the Washington Post journalist's death has deepened amid a series of different explanations offered by Saudi Arabia, including the newest claim that he was killed in a "fist fight" inside the Saudi consulate and that the whereabouts of his body remains unknown. But a new report from the Middle East Eye claims that a key member of the Saudi team with direct connections to the crown smuggled his body out of Turkey in a large bag before anyone knew about Khashoggi's murder.
The report claimed that Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, a Saudi intelligence officer and personal bodyguard to Crown Prince Mohammed, left with the body on a private jet just hours after Khashoggi's murder. He was able to escape detection by leaving quickly after the killing took place, the report noted.
"His bags were not checked as he passed through the VIP lounge at Ataturk airport and neither was the plane, with tail registration HZ-SK1," a source told the outlet. "This was because the plane left before the alarm was raised. A second plane was searched from top to bottom and nothing was found, according to the sources."
The report comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to reveal the truth about Khashoggi's murder on Tuesday. Reports from Turkish media have indicated that Turkey possesses recordings that show exactly how Khashoggi was killed, a gruesome dismemberment that began while he was still alive. Turkey has pushed back against the Saudi explanations for Khashoggi's death, including the initial denials of having anything to do with it.
The Middle East Eye report noted that Saudi Arabia is scrambling to tie up loose ends, including explaining how a man so close to Crown Prince Mohammed ended up on the 15-man team sent to Turkey to kill the journalist. They will likely claim that Mutrib was suggested because he knew Khashoggi and could convince him to come back to Saudi Arabia.
Other members of the team sent to kill Khashoggi also have direct ties to the Saudi Crown Prince, the Wall Street Journal noted.The Middle East Eye report claimed that Turkey is trying to have the suspects extradited quickly, with fears that they may be put to death in Saudi Arabia before the investigation into Jamal Khashoggi's death can take place.