In their first interview since Jamaal Khashoggi’s death, Salah and Abdullah issued an emotional appeal for their father’s body.
By Josh Babb
Rabat – Speaking with CNN in Washington, D.C., the two brothers said they have asked Saudi authorities to return Khashoggi’s body. Without doing so, they said, Saudi Arabia is denying Khashoggi’s family the ability to properly grieve or gain a sense of closure in the aftermath of his death.
“I really hope that whatever happened wasn’t painful for him, or it was quick. Or he had a peaceful death,” said Abdullah.
“All what we want right now is to bury him in Al-Baqi [cemetery] in Medina with the rest of his family,” Salah added.
Khashoggi, an opinion contributor for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a 15-person Saudi hit squad on October 2. Turkish authorities claim Khashoggi was strangled soon after entering the consulate and his body was dismembered shortly after.
The Post reported that Turkish investigators are also looking into the possibility that the hit-squad dissolved Khashoggi’s body in acid on the grounds of the consulate, with particular attention being paid to a well on the property. Authorities also searched the sewer system in the immediate area last week.
Saudi Arabia has presented several narratives surrounding the death of Khashoggi. Initially they denied all involvement, but carefully managed leaks by Turkish investigators and newspapers have forced the Saudis to revise their position several times.
The Saudis finally admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a premeditated manner in late October but claimed the operation was the result of “rogue agents.”
Riyadh continues to vehemently deny that either King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) had any advanced knowledge of the plot.
Saudi prosecutors have arrested 18 people in connection with Khashoggi’s killing, many with ties to Saudi security services. Turkey has demanded that the Saudis extradite them for trial in Istanbul, but Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir has insisted that they will instead face prosecution in Riyadh.
The death of Khashoggi has ignited international outcry and complicated the United States close relationship with Saudi Arabia. President Trump viewed the Saudis as a critical ally in the Middle East as his administration postures to contain Iranian influence in the region.
Both Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi fear that in the aftermath of their father’s death the politicization of the murder threatens to both obfuscate the truth and the legacy of their father’s work.
News broke last week that in phone calls with both National Security Advisor John Bolton and Jared Kushner, MBS had called Khashoggi a “dangerous Islamist” who had supported the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood has long been considered a terrorist group by Saudi Arabia.
When asked how Khashoggi should be remembered, Salah replied, “as a moderate man who has common values with everyone … a man who loved his country.” He added, “Jamal was never a dissident. He believed in the monarchy that it is the thing that is keeping the country together. And he believed in the transformation that it is going through.”
The brothers stressed that they are waiting for the full investigation from Saudi Arabia to come to a close and for all the facts to surface before drawing their conclusions.
“The King has stressed that everybody involved will be brought to justice. And I have faith in that. This will happen. Otherwise Saudi wouldn’t have started an internal investigation,” Salah said.