After journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, he was seized by 15 Saudi agents, and endured verbal abuse by Saud al-Qahtani via Skype, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.
Qahtani was one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's top aides, running his social media, and after insulting Khashoggi, he ordered the Saudi agents "bring me the head of the dog," a Turkish intelligence source told Reuters. It is unclear if he watched as Khashoggi was murdered. Qahtani was adamant about who he worked for, tweeting last summer, "Do you think I make decisions without guidance? I am an employee and a faithful executor of the orders of my lord the king and my lord the faithful crown prince."
On Friday, weeks after Khashoggi was first reported missing and after Turkey declared he had been murdered, Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi was killed in a "rogue operation," which the crown prince knew nothing about, and his death was an accident. People with knowledge of the matter said Qahtani has been chosen as one of the fall guys to protect the crown prince, and on Saturday, Saudi state media reported King Salman had fired Qahtani and four others involved in the operation.