Gruesome audio tapes prove Saudis killed missing journalist, say Turkish officials

A senior official told a Turkish newspaper that audio recordings prove that missing Saudi journalist was murdered in the Saudi consulate.

  • Jamal Khashoggi was killed just moments after entering the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2., according to the anonymous senior official.
  • News of the alleged tapes broke the same day U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi officials about the disappearance.
  • President Donald Trump has reportedly requested copies of the tapes.

Gruesome audio recordings prove that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured, killed and dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, according to a senior Turkish official.

The pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Şafak published leaked details Wednesday about the alleged audio tapes. Those details come one day after Turkish police said they had audio recordings proving Saudi operatives had killed Khashoggi, and on the same day as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi King Salman and his Crown Prince to discuss the case.

On the day of Khashoggi's disappearance, a team of 15 Saudi operatives, some of whom have close ties to the Saudi prince, arrived in Istanbul and traveled to the consulate. They were reportedly waiting for Khashoggi when he arrived on Oct. 2.

It was a brutal murder that took about seven minutes, the official said.

Saudi operatives reportedly dragged Khashoggi from the Consul General's office and put him on a table in another room. At some point during the encounter, the operatives allegedly interrogated, beat and tortured Khashoggi, severing his fingers and eventually dismembering his body.

"The screaming stopped when Khashoggi was injected with an as yet unknown substance. Head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi's body up on a table in the study while he was still alive. As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same."

On Monday, Turkish and Saudi officials began a joint forensics investigation of the Saudi consulate. But before that took place, multiple media outlets reported that a crew carrying cleaning supplies had entered the consulate building.

The U.S. response

Pompeo, after meeting with King Salman, said:

"My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials."

President Donald Trump has seemed reluctant to pressure Saudi Arabia on the case. In a tweet, the president said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured him that his government played no part in the disappearance. On Tuesday, Trump compared the situation to the recent sexual assault allegations again Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump told the Associated Press. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that."

On Wednesday, Trump said he had requested copies of the supposed audio tapes.

"We've asked for it, if it exists," Trump said in the Oval Office, adding that the such a tape "probably exists."

"We will probably know that by the end of the week."

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Can dirt help us fight off stress? Groundbreaking new research shows how.

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Are modern societies trying too hard to be clean, at the detriment to public health? Scientists discovered that a microorganism living in dirt can actually be good for us, potentially helping the body to fight off stress. Harnessing its powers can lead to a "stress vaccine".

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder found that the fatty 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid from the soil-residing bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae aids immune cells in blocking pathways that increase inflammation and the ability to combat stress.

The study's senior author and Integrative Physiology Professor Christopher Lowry described this fat as "one of the main ingredients" in the "special sauce" that causes the beneficial effects of the bacterium.

The finding goes hand in hand with the "hygiene hypothesis," initially proposed in 1989 by the British scientist David Strachan. He maintained that our generally sterile modern world prevents children from being exposed to certain microorganisms, resulting in compromised immune systems and greater incidences of asthma and allergies.

Contemporary research fine-tuned the hypothesis, finding that not interacting with so-called "old friends" or helpful microbes in the soil and the environment, rather than the ones that cause illnesses, is what's detrimental. In particular, our mental health could be at stake.

"The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation," explained Lowry. "That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders."

University of Colorado Boulder

Christopher Lowry

This is not the first study on the subject from Lowry, who published previous work showing the connection between being exposed to healthy bacteria and mental health. He found that being raised with animals and dust in a rural environment helps children develop more stress-proof immune systems. Such kids were also likely to be less at risk for mental illnesses than people living in the city without pets.

Lowry's other work also pointed out that the soil-based bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae acts like an antidepressant when injected into rodents. It alters their behavior and has lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain, according to the press release from the University of Colorado Boulder. Prolonged inflammation can lead to such stress-related disorders as PTSD.

The new study from Lowry and his team identified why that worked by pinpointing the specific fatty acid responsible. They showed that when the 10(Z)-hexadecenoic acid gets into cells, it works like a lock, attaching itself to the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR). This allows it to block a number of key pathways responsible for inflammation. Pre-treating the cells with the acid (or lipid) made them withstand inflammation better.

Lowry thinks this understanding can lead to creating a "stress vaccine" that can be given to people in high-stress jobs, like first responders or soldiers. The vaccine can prevent the psychological effects of stress.

What's more, this friendly bacterium is not the only potentially helpful organism we can find in soil.

"This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils," said Lowry. "We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us."

Check out the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.