Top Saudi leaders deployed a 15-man hit squad to lie in wait for dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, The New York Times said in an explosive story.
Among the assassination team was a forensic expert who brought a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body after killing him, the Times reported on Tuesday, citing an unidentified “senior official” as saying.
Al Jazeera could not immediately verify the news report.
The hit squad finished the murder operation within two hours and departed Turkey for various countries, said the Times’ source, citing information from “top Turkish officials”.
“It is like Pulp Fiction,” the senior Turkish official was quoted as saying, referring to the graphically violent 1994 Hollywood movie by director Quentin Tarantino.
Accusations the Saudi leadership directly ordered the alleged assassination of Khashoggi will put further pressure on the United States and other allies to demand a transparent investigation, with possible serious repercussions to bilateral relations if it does not come to fruition.
Saudi officials have denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder, saying he left the consulate on October 2. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has demanded that Riyadh prove his departure from the building.
The Turkish government hasn’t provided formal evidence that could back up the spate of anonymous allegations that the Saudi writer was killed inside the Istanbul consulate.
Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper with close ties to the government, named and published photos on Tuesday of the alleged 15-member Saudi assassination team accused of travelling to Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared. The suspects are wanted by Turkish authorities for questioning.