One of the 15 suspects accused by Turkey of having a hand in the disappearance of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Kashoggi, in Istanbul early this month is a Saudi Hausa.
A passenger manifest of the suspects, released to Turkish pro-government media, gave the name of the Saudi security agent with possible links to Hausa language as Abdulaziz Muhammed M. Alhawsawi.
According to Turkish media report, a fifteen-person team has been linked to the disappearance of Jamal. They are believed to be Saudi Special Forces officers, intelligence officials, national guards and a forensics expert, whose details were listed on flight manifests leaked to Turkish media. Social media profiles of some of the alleged suspects link them to elite sections of the Saudi security apparatus.
Hausa is widely spoken in a number of African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Niger Republic, among others and many Hausa speaking families have settled in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is not yet clear if Muhammed’s family have their roots in Nigeria.
Reports by the Turkish media said the suspect was born in 1987 and had arrived at Ataturk Aiport in Istanbul on a scheduled airplane. He entered the airport’s passport control (unit) at about 01:43 on October 2.
The accused was said to have stayed in Wyndham Grand Hotel and later left the country through the passport control at 20:23 aboard a private jet belonging to the Sky Prime Aviation.
The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi after entering Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, continue to generate reactions.
Jamal is a commentator on Arab issues. He is an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia and critical of its rulers. While living in Saudi Arabia, Jamal had a large audience on Twitter with 1.6 million followers.
The 60-year-old moved to the United States more than a year ago, where he continued to comment on his country both in print and on television and wrote columns for the Washington Post and The Guardian.
Turkish officials remained convinced that Jamal was killed by the alleged squad inside the consulate building – a view partly formed by security footage, much of which has not been released.
But, unlike the roads outside the diplomatic mission, they have no camera coverage of the consul general’s residence, or the garage beneath it and say the cars and their occupants remained out of sight for several hours, before continuing to Ataturk airport.
Now, investigators are turning their focus towards the underground garage of the Saudi consul general’s home, where the cars thought to have carried Jamal are believed to have been driven immediately after they left the nearby consulate.
On Friday, a delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived Turkey as part of an investigation after Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said his country had accepted a Saudi proposal to form a joint working group to investigate the case.
Details of the Saudi citizens who travelled to Istanbul were released amid a claim that they brought with them a bone-saw to dismember Jamal. “It was like Pulp Fiction,” a Turkish official told the New York Times. Suggestions that Jamal was killed and his body then mutilated have gained wide circulation in the week since he vanished, and Turkish officials continue to insist he met a brutal fate when he stepped through the doors of the diplomatic mission.
The alleged involvement of a forensics expert adds weight to the suspicions.
The Saudi team is said to have arrived at Atatürk airport on Tuesday, October 2 on two planes, one of which landed in the pre-dawn hours, and the second in the early afternoon.
Airport security officials now say they checked all bags that the Saudi teams took with them and say there was nothing suspicious in any of the items loaded on to the jets for their return journeys to Riyadh.
Officials also say they had become aware that Jamal may have been kidnapped before the second plane had departed and monitored seven Saudis in a waiting room as they checked their luggage for a second time. When nothing unusual was discovered, the plane was allowed to leave.
Turkish media have broadcast CCTV footage that shows the alleged Saudi team arriving and leaving Istanbul airport, as well as vehicles approaching and leaving the consulate. The Turkish President, Recep Erdoğan, has promised a transparent investigation into Jamal’s fate.
However, many officials who provided information earlier in the inquiry are now refusing to speak, citing political sensitivities.
Jamal was last seen entering the consulate in Istanbul to get documents related to his forthcoming marriage.
The Saudi government has denied any involvement in Jamal’s disappearance and said he left the consulate via a back entrance.
Yesterday, US President Donald Trump vowed in a “60 Minutes” interview that the United States would get to the bottom of what happened to a missing Saudi journalist and that there would be “severe punishment” if he was found to have been murdered.
In an excerpt from the interview, released by CBS on Saturday morning, Trump said the case of Jamal Khashoggi was “being looked at very, very strongly” and that his administration “would be very upset and angry” if it turned out that the Saudi government had ordered his killing.
“As of this moment, they deny it and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes,” he said.
Saudi Arabia Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz said reports that the Saudi government ordered the killing of Khashoggi are “lies and baseless allegations against the government of the Kingdom,” according to a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) published early Saturday.
Abdulaziz also said “some media” have circulated “false accusations” regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance.
A delegation from Saudi Arabia has arrived in Turkey for the investigation, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Friday.
A Saudi official said that he “welcomed” an announcement by the Turkish President to form a joint team of experts from both countries to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance,” according to a Saudi Information Ministry statement.