In an interview with CNN in Washington a month after he disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Instanbul, Jamal Khashoggi’s sons ask for their father’s remains to be returned so they can give him a proper burial in Saudi Arabia beside the rest of his family.
Salah, 35, and Abdullah, 33, say without their father’s body, there is no closure and that Khashoggi’s loved ones are unable to grieve properly. Salah said, “We just need to make sure that he rests in peace.”
Abdullah spoke of the difficulty of the situation where the family can only find answers about Khashoggi’s death from the media. “We’re trying to be emotional and at the same time we’re trying to get the story — bits and pieces of the story to complete the whole picture. It’s confusing and difficult. It’s not a normal situation and not a normal death.”
As The News Blender has reported, Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, had moved to the US because he feared for his life in Saudi Arabia as the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cracked down on intellectuals and dissidents. He entered the consulate to retrieve paperwork for his upcoming wedding in Turkey with Hatice Cengiz and was never seen again. The story of what happened to him was an evolving one, with the Saudi’s initially claiming he exited the consulate and that they had surveillance video of his departure. They eventually admitted he had been murdered in the consulate by “rogue killers“.
While the Saudi royal family maintains it knew nothing about Khashoggi’s fate, it is widely believed that the Crown Prince is complicit in his murder – many of the individuals in Saudi custody and identified as the rogue operators have connections with MBS. Turkish investigators believe Khashoggi’s body was cut up with a bone saw and removed from the consulate in suitcases. From there, authorities believe Jamal’s was either disposed of outside of Istanbul or dissolved in acid.
In the CNN interview, Salah and Abdullah spoke of their father as a journalist “rock star” in Saudi Arabia who was liked by everyone.
Abdullah was the last of Jamal’s children to see him alive, having traveled to Turkey to spend time with his father and his father’s fiancee before their wedding. Abdullah said, “He was happy. It was a very good opportunity for me to see him. We hung out in Istanbul, we had fun. I was really lucky to have last moment with him. I feel very grateful.”
Abdullah was able to travel to Virgina to visit his father’s apartment and spoke of finding pictures of he and Salah’s children, Jamal’s grandchildren, beside his bed. “It put an emphasis on his gentle, tender side of loving his family, his grandkids. It’s just something huge and it touched me personally and all the family when they knew about it,” Abdullah told CNN.
Salah said that his father would want to be remembered as “as a moderate man who has common values with everyone… a man who loved his country, who believed so much in it and its potential.” He described his father as “a genuine, happy person and an “amazing” father who was liked by everyone”.
The brothers are troubled by how their father’s death is being politicized by some. Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East adviser, and John Bolton, national security adviser, have labeled Khashoggi a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. When asked about the accusation that Jamal was involved with the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdullah answered, “It’s just labels and people not doing their homework properly, and reading his article and going in depth. It’s easier to stick a label on him.”
Salah, who lives in Saudi Arabia and was believed to be under a travel ban preventing him from traveling outside of Saudi Arabia, expressed his faith in the King and said, “The King has stressed that everybody involved will be brought to justice. And I have faith in that. This will happen. Otherwise Saudi wouldn’t have started an internal investigation.”
He also made a point to say that his father was not a dissident and said, “He believed in the monarchy, that it is the thing that is keeping the country together.” Of his widely reported handshake with the Crown Prince before he left the Kingdom, Salah says it was misinterpreted by the media.
“I mean there was nothing, they were just over analyzing the whole situation,” Salah said. “I understand why they’re trying to do that. They’re trying to get as much information as they can out of anything, which is something that we’re also doing. Sometimes they’re just baseless claims, sometimes they just don’t make any sense.”
The Washinton Post is reporting Turkish officials now believe that nine days after Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi Arabian consulate, a two-person “clean-up team” was sent by the Saudi’s to remove evidence of his death. The team, consisting of a chemist and a toxicologist, was dispatched before Turkish officials were allowed into the consulate to investigate. The Guardian reports that investigators found freshly painted surfaces when they were allowed to search the consulate and nearby residence. Also according to The Guardian, Turkish officials are leaking information about the investigation to put pressure on the the Crown Prince.