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Jamal Khashoggi: Amateur sleuths scour web for details of 15 Saudi men

A leading forensic pathologist, an Air Force officer who recites poetry, a lieutenant promoted after an attack - what social media users found
Sabah was one of the outlets which reported the alleged leaks on Tuesday (Still)

Late on Tuesday night, pro-government Turkish outlets published the names and photos of 15 people they claim were involved in Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance, setting off a frantic search among social media users for any publicly available information about the mysterious list.

Khashoggi, a veteran journalist and Washington Post columnist, vanished on 2 October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork so he could remarry. 

Saudi officials have said he left the consulate and are concerned about his whereabouts, while Turkish officials have maintained since Saturday that he was assassinated inside the building.

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The Turkish officials have not publicly disclosed their evidence, but instead have drip-fed leaks day by day, turning journalists and social media users alike into amateur investigators, chasing down CCTV stills, following flight paths and mapping out driving times in Istanbul.

However, the release overnight of the names of 15 men whom Turkish officials say were part of the squad who killed Khashoggi has set crowdsourcing sleuths, scattered across the globe and working through the night, into a frenzy. 

"It's 3:40 am here, going to sleep. Didn't get much sleep for a week now," tweeted Iyad el-Baghdadi, president of the Kawaakibi Foundation, a think tank promoting liberal values in the Muslim world, and one of the many social media users sharing information on Tuesday night. 

Here's a compilation of what they have found. Some of the tweets and social media profiles cited by users have since disappeared or been removed on Wednesday.

Sources close to the investigation confirmed the names of the 15 suspects to Middle East Eye, but MEE has not been able to independently verify any further details.

Mishal Saad M al-Bostani

Users shared a Facebook page for Albostani with a profile listing him as a lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Airforce and saying he attended the University of Louisville in Kentucky. It also says he is from Jeddah and lives there now.

After MEE published the original version of this story, the Facebook page was deleted. Here's a screenshot:

A photo of Albostani from the website TourBar, purportedly on a scuba diving expedition, was also shared. Among details listed in the TourBar user profile, it says the user is 33 years old who offers interpretation and wine-tasting services, and lists his location as Bishah, Saudi Arabia, a five-hour drive from Jeddah.

Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy 

Pointing to photos and a tweeted bio, users identified al-Tubaigy as the Saudi general security department's head of forensic evidence.

In his tweet, @WarCQC cites the @sofarajiz Twitter account which appears to highlight, through tweets, notable entrepreneurs, businessmen and others from Saudi Arabia's Jazan province.

In the photo of @sofarajiz's tweets, it lists al-Tubaigy as a director of forensic pathology of general security's general administration for crime evidence, president of the Saudi Fellowship of Forensic Pathology, a member of the Saudi Association for Forensic Pathology, a member of several unnamed European associations, inventor of a machine that performs virtual forensic pathology and a colonel in the Saudi army.

Naif Hassan S al-Arifi

Social media users cited a Facebook page for a Naif Hasan S Alarifi which lists him as an officer in the Saudi special forces with photos showing a man in uniform and also with guns.

Muhammed Saad H al-Zahrani

In uniform and with his hand on a gun, Mohammad al-Zahrani turns up in the background of a photo showing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting a Yemeni tribal leader, one of several who were visiting Riyadh in April 2017.

Mansur Othman M Abahussein

An April 2014 report from the Saudi-owned daily al-Sharq al-Awsat shared by social media users lists Abahuseyin as a lieutenant-colonel and assistant operations officer in the Saudi civil defence.

Users turned up a YouTube video purportedly showing Alsehri, identified as a Saudi air force officer, reading a poem to a gathering of military officials in 2012. 

He recites a rhythmic poem in slang: "Our air forces in every battlefield, its sights and goals are powerful/The excellency leader of your base, and his assistant, have never lost/your presence in our graduation ceremony is an evidence that joy flowered."

Thaar Ghaleb T al-Harbi

According to a news report cited by users, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman promoted al-Harbi from a sergeant to a lieutenant in the Saudi military in October 2017 after his involvement in an attack on the Peace Palace in Jeddah.

Maher Abdulaziz M Mutrib

Ghanem Almasarir, a popular Saudi YouTube satirist who describes himself as a human rights defender, tweeted that Mutreb is a colonel in Saudi intelligence who worked at the Saudi embassy in London for two years.

Users attempted to confirm Almasarir's tweet:

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