Reporting at its best. Immaculately researched, sober and informative.
John le Carré
‘He always thought he would be kidnapped, but not killed. He said the worst that could happen was that they would put him on a plane – and then he would open his eyes and find himself in Riyadh.’
On Tuesday 2 October 2018, Washington Post journalist and Saudi Arabian national Jamal Khashoggi walked into his country’s consulate in Istanbul to obtain a copy of his birth certificate and a document relating to his impending marriage. He never walked back out.
The opening quote, by Wadah Khanfar, friend of Jamal Khashoggi, is one of several first-hand accounts of the tragic day and Jamal’s earlier life collected by Old Bradfieldian Jonathan Rugman (D 79-84) in his dark and gripping book The Killing in the Consulate.
The murder of a fellow journalist is a tale the Channel 4 Foreign Correspondent began telling in the days following Jamal’s disappearance. At that point, speculation on what exactly had happened inside the consulate on that day had reached fever pitch worldwide with the Saudi authorities refusing access to Turkish police investigators for nearly two weeks. It is that period which Jonathan unpicks with great skill in this superb piece of investigative journalism. Anyone looking for their next true-crime fix should pick this up instead of firing up Netflix.
This enthralling read covers the planning, execution and subsequent cover-up of the chilling murder. From tracking the formation and movements of the ‘hit squad’, including masquerading as Khashoggi after killing him, to the ever-changing narrative as The Saudi Royal Family deflected direct responsibility, it is all covered in Rugman’s comprehensive account.
Not only this, Rugman reveals the very beginnings of Jamal’s troubled and conflicted relationship with his country, right from his early dealings with a certain Osama bin Laden and his later attempts to shed light on Saudi politics in the Washington Post. The book also reveals the repercussions felt through Saudi, Turkish and American politics in the aftermath.
He spares none of the gruesome details, not all of which had come to light before, including horrific transcripts of conversations between the hit squad and the lengths to which they went to dispose of any evidence while also untangling the web of lies created by the man who, as the CIA’s assessment puts it, probably ordered the journalist’s death: the Saudi Crown Prince.
A must read for anyone who cares about the truth in a world which could do with far more of it.
‘The Killing in the Consulate’ by Jonathan Rugman is published by Simon & Schuster (RRP £20).