Role of Yalova villa linked to Khashoggi murder revealed

Audio recordings of the horrifying details of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi have revealed the secrets surrounding two villas in northwestern Yalova province. The recorded conversations disclose what the 15-man Saudi hit squad was going to do if Khashoggi was not killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. If Khashoggi was taken alive out of the consulate, he would have been taken to the villa of Saudi national Mohammed Ahmed Alfaozan, who was given the code-name "Ghozan" in Yalova.

The recorded conversations were obtained by Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) right after the gruesome incident, and were shared with related Turkish authorities carrying out an investigation into the incident, as well as with international officials and institutions.

Based on the recordings, one of the Saudi agents allegedly involved in the murder at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate, Mansour Othman Abahussain, called Saudi businessman Ghozan one day before the killing of Khashoggi. Abahussain asked Ghozan how far his villa was from Istanbul. Ghozan replied to him saying, "The bridge [the Osmangazi Bridge] is operated. It takes one hour and 15 minutes to get there by the highway. It takes 45 minutes from Sabiha Gökçen Airport."

Abahussain asked if there is anybody living there, Ghozan told him, "No, there is nobody. Only a watchman." Abahussain was heard saying "very nice."

An investigation carried out by the Istanbul Police Department and the MIT concluded that in a scenario where Khashoggi would have been taken out of the kingdom's consulate alive, he would have been taken to Ghozan's villa. This is why Turkish police, on Nov. 26, carried out a search at the villa located in the Samanlı village in the Termal district as part of the ongoing investigation into the killing of Khashoggi. However, no evidence of Khashoggi's remains was found in the villa. Besides, the original scenario was applied in his murder; Khashoggi's remains were removed after his body was dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives. His remains have not yet been located. Turkish investigators widened their search to Yalova and the Belgrade Forest on the outskirts of Istanbul to search for his body.

After the gruesome incident, the Saudi businessman's legal adviser stated that Ghozan has an investment in Turkey worth around TL 1 billion and an ongoing tourism and construction project in Yalova worth $500 million. He also noted that after Turkish police searched his villa, Ghozan refrained from coming back to Turkey and even considered terminating his investments, in a latent threat to Turkey.

Referring to his phone call to Abahussain, he said, "I met Mansour Othman Abahussain for the last 15 years. He called me on Oct. 1, 2018, the day I was in Riyadh. He asked me if I want something from Turkey, saying that he was in Turkey. I told him that I did not have any request and that he can stay at my place in Yalova since I thought that he might be with his family in Turkey. He didn't tell me why he came to Istanbul and I didn't ask him as well. I didn't meet him in Turkey. I don't know anybody in the 15-man Saudi hit squad, except Mansour Othman Abahussain, whom I met as the state official at the Saudi Consulate before the war in Syria."

Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives in the country's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. Initially denying and later downplaying the incident as an accidental killing in a fistfight, Riyadh finally admitted almost three weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance that he was murdered in a premeditated fashion but denied any involvement by the royal family. The incident was blamed on lower-level officials, including five who are now facing the death penalty over their involvement. A Saudi public prosecutor said in late March that they would seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 21 involved in the case.

Salah Muhammed al-Tubaigy, the head of Forensic Evidence at the Saudi General Security Department was the person who dismembered Khashoggi's body and then destroyed the traces before taking the body out of the Saudi consulate in five suitcases.

In his statement during secret trials in Riyadh, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb stated that Türki Müşerref M. Alsehri, Waleed Abdullah M. Alsehri and Fahad Shabib A. Albalawi from the assassination squad put the dismembered body of Khashoggi into black bags and then loaded them into a Mercedes car. However, the video recording shows that his dismembered body was loaded into a Mercedes Vito. The rest of his statement reveals that the assassination team flew back to Saudi Arabia through a private jet owned by Sky Prime Aviation Services, a company that was reportedly seized by the Saudi government.

Abdurrahman Şimşek - Nazif Karaman

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