It took seven minutes for Jamal Khashoggi to die, a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of the Saudi journalist’s last moments told Middle East Eye.
Khashoggi was dragged from the Consul General’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and onto the table of his study next door, the Turkish source said.
Horrendous screams were then heard by a witness downstairs, the source said.
“The consul himself was taken out of the room. There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him,” the source told MEE.
The screaming stopped when Khashoggi – who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on 2 October – was injected with an as yet unknown substance.
Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who has been identified as the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department, was one of the 15-member squad who arrived in Ankara earlier that day on a private jet.
Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive, the Turkish source said.
The killing took seven minutes, the source said.
As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.
“When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too,” Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.
A three-minute version of the audio tape has been given to Turkish newspaper Sabah, but they have yet to release it.
A Turkish source told the New York Times that Tubaigy was equipped with a bone saw. He is listed as the president of the Saudi Fellowship of Forensic Pathology and a member of the Saudi Association for Forensic Pathology.
In 2014, London-based Saudi newspaper Asharaq al-Awsat interviewed Tubaigy about a mobile clinic that allows coroners to perform autopsies in seven minutes to determine the cause of death of Hajj pilgrims.
The newspaper reported that the mobile clinic was partly designed by Tubaigy and could be used in “security cases that requires pathologist intervention to perform an autopsy or examine a body at the place of a crime”.
These are the first details to emerge of the Saudi journalist’s killing. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to retrieve paperwork.
To date, Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving. However, they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consulate were not recording at the time.
Trump: MBS ‘totally denied’ knowledge of what happened
Meanwhile, on Tuesday afternoon, Donald Trump tweeted that he spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who “totally denied any knowledge of what took place” in Istanbul.
In two tweets, the US president wrote that MBS took the call in the presence of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was dispatched to Saudi Arabia this week amid a growing diplomatic nightmare over Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Trump said Bin Salman told him “that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter”.
“Answers will be forthcoming shortly,” Trump tweeted.
Pompeo also met with Saudi King Salman and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Tuesday in Saudi Arabia, and he “reiterated US concern” over Khashoggi’s disappearance, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
“The secretary and the foreign minister agreed on the importance of a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation,” Nauert said.
Pompeo is expected to be in Turkey on Wednesday to probe the incident further. He will meet Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to “discuss the Jamal Khashoggi case and reiterate the US offer to assist Turkey in its investigation”, Nauert said in a subsquent statement.
On Monday, CNN reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to release a report that would blame Khashoggi’s death on a botched interrogation.
That would be a sharp reversal of earlier statements in which Saudi officials said they had nothing to do with the journalist’s disappearance and said he left the Saudi consulate minutes after he first arrived on 2 October.
Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and columnist for the Washington Post, had been living in self-imposed exile in Washington, DC, when he disappeared.
On Tuesday, Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan called for a “full and honest explanation” of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“The Saudi government can no longer remain silent, and it is essential that our own government and others push harder for the truth,” Ryan said in a statement. “Until we have a full account and full accountability, it cannot be business as usual with the Saudi government.”
The United Nations human rights chief also called for immunity to be lifted for officials who might be involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Due to the seriousness of the case, the immunity generally accorded to diplomats “should be waived immediately”, Michelle Bachelet said.