Graphic images of the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi that spread across the interent generated viral attention, but have been identified as fake.
The bloody images claiming to show the Saudi dissident’s murder spread across social media, claiming to show the first images of Khashoggi’s murder, but have been identified as images from a French television show.
The hoax seemed grounded in reality. Turkish officials have steadily released details about how a team of Saudi agents murdered and dismembered the Washington Post journalist, forcing the Saudi government to admit its involvement after initial denials that it had anything to do with Khashoggi’s murder. The images released Friday appeared to be the most direct evidence of Saudi Arabia’s involvement and give a glimpse into the bloody aftermath.
Al Sura, an independent news outlet, published the graphic photos, but noted that there was no official verification of the legitimacy of the images.
“The shocking images were leaked today by Turkish authorities working on the case against Saudi Arabia’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey,” the report noted. “The leaks are the first photographic reports that show the alleged dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by an ‘A-Team’ from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence authority. The Turkish reports have not been independently verified.”
There were a number of signs that the pictures were a hoax. The website that first published the images, Al Sura, is described as an independent platform for journalists, but the site appeared to be inactive before the images were published on Friday. The last post on the site was on July 30.
The graphic pictures claiming to show Jamal Khashoggi’s dismemberment appear to show a team of people dressed in black and working in what appears to be an empty space with a concrete floor and a plastic tarp taped onto the floor. The tarp was covered in blood and the images showed the men placing body parts into plastic bags, including dismembered hands. Another picture showed a man wearing a plastic poncho and holding a bloody chainsaw.
The hoax pictures of Khashoggi’s dismemberment came just two days after the Turkish government revealed airport X-rays of the “torture kit” that the team of Saudi agents reportedly used in Khashoggi’s murder.
“They also show scalpels, defibrillators, a signal jammer and a taser, the newspaper reported,” the Daily Mail reported. “The images are said to have been taken as the Saudis passed through security checks at the terminal when they left the country.”
The report noted that the airport images showed no signs of Jamal Khashoggi’s body.
A big development in a story that is not going away. https://t.co/gQuBFC0mYr
— Dan Rather (@DanRather) November 16, 2018
At the same time that the hoax photos were published, reports noted that the CIA concluded that Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was ordered by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, despite Saudi denials that the ruler had no involvement.