In the past few days, the FRANCE 24 Observers has received a set of three very shocking photos showing dismembered body parts. Internet users, blogs and sites in several different languages have shared these images, claiming they belong to the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, this is not true – these are old photographs of macabre incidents in Egypt and Mexico.
Grisly details about Khashoggi’s death have been slowly revealed in the international media over the past week. According to the Turkish police, the pro-government Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, and the Washington Post (who employed Khashoggi), he was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate. On October 23, British TV channel Sky News reported that cut-up remains of the journalist’s body were found in the consulate’s garden, according to their sources.
WARNING: SOME DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS ARTICLE MAY SHOCK READERS
The set of three images being shared online show close-ups of mutilated body parts. Due to the graphic nature of these images, we have decided to publish only blurred screen grabs of one of the multiple messages we have received on Whatsapp concerning these images.
A screengrab of one of the messages received by the FRANCE 24 Observers on WhatsApp. (We have blurred the dismembered body parts shown in the photos.) The message reads, "The Saudi journalist that was dissected by Saudi intelligence officers inside the Saudi consulate in ISTANBUL."
On Whatsapp, at least five different people have sent the FRANCE 24 Observers this series of photos. The accompanying messages (in French) have included the following: “Hello, there is news that a journalist was assassinated in Turkey, and I have received through Whatsapp images concerning this journalist”; “The Saudi journalist that was dismembered by Saudi intelligence inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul”; “Hello, here are the photos of the Saudi journalist – see what the Saudi criminals have done to him”.
Two of the photos show dismembered arms and legs that have been placed in trash bags. The third shows a skull, a face that has been scalped off, a pair of eyes and a cut-off penis all displayed on a table, in front of a black trash bag.
This set of photos has circulated widely on Whatsapp in Turkey, and has also been tweeted by Turkish Twitter users. It has also been shared on at least five Iranian news sites; two Russian blogs; websites in Tamil, Hebrew, Indonesian and German; and on several Arabic-language social media accounts.
The sites and posts that relayed these images claimed that the photos showed Khashoggi’s dismembered body, but didn’t provide any evidence to back this up. The German site Noch.info simply said that the scalped face “looked a lot like the face of the victim, with a mustache and a beard”.
In reality, none of these photos have anything to do with Khashoggi. The proof? They were published online long before his death. We found the photos’ origins by doing a simple reverse image search (click here to learn how to do this).
The two photos that show the arms and the legs date back to August 2017, and were taken in Giza, Egypt. These body parts belonged to a man described as “elderly” in the Egyptian press, who report that his body parts were found scattered between two different parts of town.
The photo showing the skull, the scalped face, the pair of eyes and the penis had already been published online back in July 2017. According to a blog specialised in Mexican drug trafficking-related crime, these body parts belonged to a police commander in Tecoman, Mexico, who was killed by a cartel.