He never imagined such a horrific outcome, Jamal Khashoggi's friend tells WION

Jamal Khashoggi. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Istanbul, Turkey Oct 27, 2018, 11.11 AM (IST)

The killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has sparked global outrage and a full-blown crisis for Saudi Arabia.

Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He had gone to collect a document that would allow him to remarry.

For two weeks, Saudi Arabia denied any knowledge of Khashoggi before finally confessing to the killing.

WION's Political Editor Kartikeya Sharma spoke to Khashoggi's friend Tura Khislakchi in Istanbul.

They spoke about the events leading to the brutal killing, Khashoggi's upcoming marriage to Hatice Cengiz — they were to get married the day after Jamal visited the Saudi consulate — and what Khashoggi's future plans looked like. 

Did Jamal think he was under threat?

"No, but when his article was published in the Washington Post, some people in Saudi Arabia were threatening him on the internet but he was not aware of it," said Khislakchi. 

Jamal had thought people in Saudi Arabia might abduct him but never did he imagine such a horrific outcome, Khislakchi told WION. 

Was it because of the newly-crowned prince?  

Everything changed when the new prince was crowned, Khislakchi answered. "All the politicians and the rich are in jail." 

Khislakchi added that Jamal "left Saudi Arabia about a year back and stayed in Washington. The crown prince was afraid of Jamal's article because people in Saudi Arabia and Gulf area knew Jamal very well. Every time Jamal would publish anything, everybody would read it."

Khislakchi said Prince Salman had told him about five or six months back to send a person to talk to Jamal and ultimately bring him back to Saudi Arabia as his political advisor. That way Jamal would stop writing about Saudi Arabia, but Jamal turned down the offer. 

Khislakchi said Jamal was a critic of the regime because of Yemen.

Initially, Jamal was in support of the war on Yemen but four months down the line, when it "got brutal", he turned against it.

Jamal went against the geopolitical strategies of the prince on Qatar, Syria, Kurdish and on Yemen, said Khislakchi. He was also against Turkey. 

Khislakchi added that Jamal was not afraid of the Saudi consulate. 

Before he had been scheduled to go to the consulate he was in the UK and thereafter met with his finance, Hatice Cengiz, to visit the consulate to collect documents on October 2 when the incident happened. 

Khashoggi had gone to the consulate four days back as well but the officials told him to come on October 2.  

When he arrived at the consulate with Cengiz on the day they did not allow him to enter. 

"That day, they closed all the cameras in the consulate. Some of the Turkish people, when Jamal entered, they put all of them in one room. When Jamal entered in the sound audio room, it is said that within 20 minutes they killed him," Khislakchi narrated. 

Khislakchi further said that some people who worked in the consulate could hear Jamal screaming but they were told them to be in their rooms.

Marriage to Hatice Cengiz and the future

It was a surprise for Khislakchi when Khashoggi told him about his plan to marry Hatice Cengiz and to ultimately settle in Turkey, he said. 

Khashoggi had told Khislakchi about Cengiz around two months back and requested him to meet with her father for his permission for their marriage. 

One primary problem was the age difference - Khashoggi was in his 50s and Cengiz was in her 30s - which posed as a potential hurdle during talks with her father, Khislakchi told WION. 

"I spoke to her father, he told me to call Jamal to Turkey. Jamal came on September 8-9 and they talked for an hour about what her father wanted from the marriage proposal," Khislakchi said. 

They met after two days again, along with Cengiz's brothers. They spoke for four hours, he said. 

Finally, when everything was successful, Khislakchi had asked him "Do you want to live here (Turkey) or the United States?." Khashoggi had said: "Mostly I want to stay in the United States but also come here every three or four months," Khislakchi remembered.

The couple, after they decided to get married, had also bought a house in Turkey, Khislakchi told WION.   

Story highlights

WION's Political Editor Kartikeya Sharma spoke to Khashoggi's friend Tura Khislakchi in Istanbul. They spoke about the events leading to the brutal killing, Khashoggi's upcoming marriage to Hatice Cengiz — they were to get married the day after Jamal visited the Saudi consulate — and what Khashoggi's future plans looked like.