Court exonerates crown prince’s inner circle of involvement in murder of dissident journalist
Saud al-Qahtani: who is fixer cleared by Saudis over Khashoggi murder?
A commemoration event for Jamal Khashoggion 11 November 2018. Five people were sentenced to death for his murder, but two top aides to the powerful crown prince were exonerated. Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP via Getty Images
A commemoration event for Jamal Khashoggi on 11 November 2018. Five people were sentenced to death for his murder, but two top aides to the powerful crown prince were exonerated. Photograph: Ozan Köse/AFP via Getty Images
ARE the 8 convicted killers of Jamal Khashoggi among those captured on video stills (above) during the infamous operation at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey?
Rabat – Saudi public prosecutor Shaalan al Shaalan has announced the sentencing of five people to death for their involvement in the murder of the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018///
A statement from the prosecutor said that the five men “who directly took part in the killing.”
Al Jazeera reported that prosecutors found the deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al Assiri, guilty of overseeing the killing of the journalist in Istanbul.
Saud al-Qahtani, a former royal adviser, had reportedly “advised” the deputy intelligence chief, but Saudi Arabia says there was not enough evidence to convict him.
Al Assiri “was charged but eventually acquitted on the same grounds,” Al Jazeera added.
The Saudi consul general in Istanbul was also acquitted and released.
Saudi Arabia arrested 11 other unnamed people for involvement in the killing. Out of the 11, the court sentenced three to prison sentences totalling 24 years.
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The three other suspects were “acquitted,” Al Jazeera commented.
The trial was held secretly, with only some diplomats from Saudi Arabia and Turkey attending.
Saudi Arabia also allowed members of Khashoggi’s family to attend the trial.
The Khashoggi murder shocked the world last year, and international intelligence agencies pointed at Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the instigator.
Rights groups have long condemned Saudi oppression of activists speaking out in opposition to its policies.
Human Rights Watch issued a report in 2019 slamming Saudi Arabia for its continued oppression of activists, clerics, and women.
HRW found that Saudi Arabia arrested approximately 70 people in September 2017.
The report also commented on the Khashoggi case.
“Around April 4, 2019, despite continuing international criticism stemming from the Khashoggi murder, Saudi Arabia carried out a new round of arrests, this time targeting 13 writers and activists,” HRW wrote.
The NGO also asked Saudi Arabia to publicize information about the trial.
Saudi Arabia’s royal family has distanced itself from the Khashoggi murder.
Surprisingly, bin Salman claimed responsibility for the killing, saying that the execution operation happened under his watch.
“It happened under my watch. I get all the responsibility because it happened under my watch,” MBS told PBS’ Martin Smith for a documentary.
Bin Salman, however, denied having prior knowledge of the plot.
In October, reports quoted alleged recordings of the perpetrators of the murder.
The conversation documents a talk between Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb and Salah Muhammed Al Tubaigy, two people allegedly involved in the killing of Khashoggi.
During the conversation, Mutreb asked Al Tubaigy if a bag would fit the body.
“No. Too heavy, very tall too,” Al Tubaigy answered.
He added, “I’ve always worked on cadavers. I know how to cut very well. I have never worked on a warm body though, but I’ll also manage that easily. I normally put on my earphones and listen to music when I cut cadavers.”
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman rules Saudi Arabia day-to-day on behalf of his father, the king. The heir to the throne is a man of contradictions. He presents himself as a young, progressive leader, a supporter of women in the workplace and, famously, behind the wheel. But he is also conducting a bloody war in Yemen, stands accused of targeting civilians and children and employing famine as a weapon. He’s rounded up political dissidents and the CIA believes he is behind the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the crown prince.
Turkey arrested two suspects who confessed to spying on Arab nationals for the United Arab Emirates, and is investigating whether the arrival in Turkey of one of them was related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a senior Turkish official said on Friday. One of the two men arrived in Turkey in October 2018, days after Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, the official said, adding the other had arrived later to help his colleague with the workload. “We are investigating whether the primary individual’s arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder,” said the official, adding the person had been monitored for six months before the arrests in Istanbul on Monday. “It is possible that there was an attempt to collect information about Arabs, including political dissidents, living in Turkey.”
Earlier this month, after an Iranian missile and drone attack on Saudi oil facilities, the United States committed additional American troops to help defend the Saudis. It was nearly midnight by the time we spoke with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Tuesday, at the royal court in Jeddah. There was a lot to ask. Our first question was about the death, a year ago, of Jamal Khashoggi, something the crown prince has never discussed in a television interview.
(CNN)When 31-year-old Maryam Gul laid eyes on the Kaaba this week, it was a moment of complete peace. The cube-shaped structure, and most sacred shrine of Islam, felt a world away from the Linwood mosque at Christchurch, New Zealand where her mother, father and brother were fatally gunned down earlier this year.
“I thought I am looking at a symbol, a symbol of peace. A symbol of God. He’s here,” Gul told CNN.
Gul is one of 200 people who arrived in Mecca, Saudi Arabia from Christchurch this week to perform the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which began on Friday. They are survivors of the March 2019 terror attacks at two Christchurch mosques as well as the relatives of those who were slain in the shootings.
Fifty-one people were killed in the attack by a white nationalist gunman during Friday prayers.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman extended the invitation to the group for the all-expenses-paid pilgrimage in July. CNN’s interviews with Christchurch pilgrims in Mecca were facilitated by the kingdom’s Center of International Communications.
In a statement published by the official Saudi news agency, Minister for Islamic Affairs Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh said the state-funded trip was part of the kingdom’s efforts to “confront and defeat terrorism and terrorists.” Christchurch survivors and victims’ relatives say the pilgrimage has been a means to healing from the violence that changed their lives.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has invited about 200 victims’ relatives and survivors of the Christchurch massacre to his country for a holy pilgrimage.
The Saudi king is paying for the airfare, accommodation and travel costs, which could cost over $1 million, as they perform hajj, the holy Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
The pilgrimage is required for all able-bodied Muslims to perform at least once in their lifetime, with many believers saving for years to make the trip. The annual pilgrimage draws nearly 2 million Muslims from around the world to Mecca and sites around it.
The Saudi ambassador to New Zealand, Abdulrahman Al Suhaibani, said the king invited the survivors and victims’ relatives because he was shocked by the March 15 attack at two mosques by an Australian white supremacist that killed 51 people.
Among those who have accepted the king’s offer was Temel Atacocugu, a 44-year-old kebab shop co-owner, who was seriously scarred by nine bullets shot by the gunman.
Atacocugu was confronted by the gunman face-to-face during the shooting, with the gunman firing a bullet into Atacocugu’s mouth, shattering his jaw.
“And then I said, ‘Oh my God, I am dying.’ When I see he’s shooting, when I see the smoke, I said, ‘Yeah, I’m dying.’ That’s the first thought,” said Atacocugu, adding that he then began protecting his vital organs as the shooter continued to fire bullets at him.
He said that since the tragedy nearly five months ago and extensive recovery efforts, he now feels “reborn” and welcomes the opportunity to express his gratitude to God for being given the chance for a new life when he participates in the hajj.
In this July 31, 2019, photo, Temel Atacocugu, who was shot nine times during the Christchurch mosque attacks, tries on the clothes he will wear during the Hajj pilgrimage, in Christchurch, New Zealand. He is among 200 survivors and relatives from the Christchurch mosque shootings who are traveling to Saudi Arabia as guests of King Salman for the Hajj pilgrimage, a trip many hope will help them to heal. (AP Photo/Nick Perry)
The king typically invites several hundred people each year to perform the hajj as his own guests, often picking those most touched by tragedy that year. The ambassador said this was the first time he invited anyone from New Zealand.
Two weeks ago, the ambassador traveled to Christchurch to hand out the simple white garments the male pilgrims will wear. The terry cloth garments worn by men are meant to strip pilgrims down of adornment and symbolize the equality of mankind before God.
“It’s a wonderful time and this is a golden chance for people to get spiritual elevation,” said Gamal Fouda, the imam at the Al Noor mosque, one of the two mosques that were attacked.
Fouda, who also survived the shootings, said he’s traveling with the group as a spiritual leader. He said the memories of the shooting remain fresh in everybody’s minds and his mosque hasn’t yet returned to normal.
“The most important thing is that the New Zealand community, including Muslims, they stood together against hate,” Fouda says. “And we are still saying that hate is not going to divide us. We will continue to love each other.”