23 Oct 2018
How this man ordered the killing of Khashoggi via Skype
The murder of Washington Post columnist and dissident Saudi Arabia journalist Jamal Khashoggi has spelled trouble for the Kingdom and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).
While Turkey has vouched to reveal the 'naked truth' of the killing, the man who has taken the fall for MbS is Saud al-Qahtani.
Qahtani, MbS's aide, and influential personality in Riyadh exercises more power than one would imagine.
Rise to prominence
An aide of MbS, Qahtani enjoys huge social media presence
40-year-old Qahtani's close ties with MbS led to his rise. In the kingdom, he is seen as the violent enforcer of the royal family's dictation.
He was tasked with countering Qatari influence on social media. Once, he asked Saudis to use #TheBlackList on social media to highlight Qatar-sympathizers.
He is said to be a part of WhatsApp group of editors where he directs journalists.
Khashoggi is seen as MbS' bad cop, has massive influence
Reuters reported, Qahtani is MbS' bad cop. He played a major role in the house arrest of 200 citizens, including Princes and high-ranking officials, at the Ritz Carlton, last year.
The arrest was part of a major anti-corruption campaign by the crown.
Saudi sources claimed since Qahtani's influence has grown multiple-fold, painting him as the mastermind of Khashoggi's killing is next to impossible.
Last year, Qahtani kidnapped Lebanese Prime Minister
How powerful Qahtani is, was evident when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri was kidnapped in Saudi last year.
Saudi wanted Hariri to deliver a message to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to stop interfering in Yemen and Lebanon.
Hariri claimed he delivered the message, but Qahtani's sources (who attended the meeting), told him otherwise. Hariri was called to Saudi under the pretext of a meeting.
Hariri was beaten as Qahtani watched, released later
Upon reaching Saudi, Hariri was informed his meeting with MbS was pushed to a later date. When he arrived at the venue, he was taken to a room where Qahtani and Saudi officials were waiting.
The officials beat Hariri as Qahtani watched.
Other reports also claimed Hariri was released after the intervention of France President Emmanuel Macron, and international outrage.
While previous incidents were forgotten, this time is different
All the happenings at Qahtani's behest were forgotten after some time, but this time it's different. Saudi is facing its worst international crisis, with countries like Germany rejecting the kingdom's defense of Khashoggi's murder.
Meanwhile, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been launching scathing attacks on Saudi. He has also refused to share with the US, details of what went down in Istanbul.
Saudi changing stands, but details of Khashoggi's murder are troubling
Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate on October 2, in Istanbul, and went missing. Earlier, Saudi claimed he left the building, days later said he died in a 'fist fight', and then credited chokehold for the celebrated journalist's death.
But new reports suggest something entirely different happened. Apparently, Qahtani gave the orders of killing on Skype, after cursing Khashoggi.
Reportedly, his body was dismembered.
On call, Qahtani asked for 'the dog's head'
To Qahtani's insults, Khashoggi replied furiously. But the presence of intelligence officials and Saudi's hitmen ensured his side was weaker.
At one point during the Skype call, Qahtani said, "Bring me the head of the dog", but little is known whether he saw, what Saudi sources call ' a botched operation'.
Reports said his body was cut into 15 pieces.
Qahtani asked Khashoggi to return home, he didn't
Friends of Khashoggi said he was asked to return home by Qahtani. The journalist was called multiple times and said he would be given a reputed job.
But Khashoggi had inhibitions. He didn't trust Qahtani and assumed he would be sent to jail in Saudi.
While some sources say MbS was kept in the loop about Khashoggi's killing, others claim Qahtani acted independently, and the plans 'went wrong'.