Jamal Khashoggi married an air hostess in the U.S. and got engaged to a graduate student in Turkey in the months before he was murdered, the women have revealed.
Mr Khashoggi, a fierce critic of the Saudi regime and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed while visiting the consulate in Istanbul to retrieve papers to prove he was divorced from his ex-wife in Saudi Arabia.
It was only after he was butchered by assassins on October 2, 2018, that his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz learned that he had married a second woman just four months before his death.
Exactly four months before his death the 59-year-old had married Hanan El-Atr, an Egyptian flight attendant for Emirates airline
He had been visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve divorce papers to marry his fiancée Hatice Cengi – neither Ms Cengi nor Ms El-Atr were aware they were both promised to Mr Khashoggi at the same time
The couple never received a marriage license to make their union legally official but Mr Khashoggi had bought a pair of rings for £1,500 ($2,000).
Receipts for the rings are still fondly kept by Ms El-Atr who told Yahoo how the pair met nine years before their wedding at a conference in Dubai.
They had swapped phone numbers and kept in touch, sharing photos and videos with each other and their favourite lines from Arabic poetry.
In the early days of 2018, Mr Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was flying to the Washington area and Ms El-Atr was flying there twice a month, meaning they began to spend more time together.
They became a couple and Mr Khashoggi invited her to his birthday dinner in March. Two weeks later he proposed.
‘He said, ‘You sure you want to be with me?” said Atr, telling Yahoo of Khashoggi’s proposal. ‘He said, ‘Because I have heavy luggage, I don’t have a stable life.”
Ms El-Atr told him: ‘I’m with you, Jamal, I believe in you and love you because [of] the way you are.’
Mr Khashoggi’s reservations were understandable given the net was starting to close around him and other Saudi expats critical of the regime.
Khashoggi with Hanan El-Atr after their wedding
In early May, just weeks after they became engaged, Ms El-Atr was hauled aside by security forces at Dubai airport.
‘They took all [my] devices. They came to my house. They searched [it],’ she said. ‘Then they start to talk about Jamal.’
She was detained for ten days by United Arab Emirates security agents who questioned her about her relationship with Mr Khashoggi.
However, at the time Mr Khashoggi was in Istanbul. He’d started to spend more time in Turkey in recent months, telling Ms El-Atr that his sister lived there.
But he seeing another woman there, the graduate student Ms Cengiz.
They had met at a conference when she had approached him for an interview.
She told Yahoo he was the most important journalist and thinker in the Middle East.
Their discussion led to a ‘very special relationship’, she said.
Throughout the year he kept in touch with Ms Cengiz, giving her jewellery when he visited Istanbul, and by the summer of 2018 they were speaking every day.
Mr Khashoggi told her he wanted to buy a flat in Istanbul and discussed marriage with Ms Cengiz.
She says he never told her he was married to another woman, saying that he was divorced.
Ms Cengiz’s father was particularly curious and even once grilled Mr Khashoggi over whether he had any other wives.
‘My father knows very well the Arabs get married more than [once] at the same time,’ Ms Cengiz told Yahoo. ‘It’s a little bit of a sensitive point for my father.’
But as Mr Khashoggi’s love life became more complicated, so too did the issue of his own personal safety.
That summer, a dissident friend of Mr Khashoggi’s living in Canada would inform him that his phone and computers had been compromised by the Saudi regime.
The friend, Omar Abdulaziz, said this personal data had been breached by Saudi spies working at Twitter.
At the time, Riyadh had started deploying a sophisticated new spyware platform called Pegasus bought from an Israeli company to help keep tabs on its adversaries.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, allegedly with a bone saw, inside the consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018
Khashoggi was hacked to pieces at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA said it believed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered his killing following critical pieces written by Khashoggi about the Saudi regime.
Mr Khashoggi was killed and dismembered, allegedly with a bone saw, inside the consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.
He first visited the building to obtain a Saudi document stating that he was divorced so he could marry his fiancée Ms Cengiz on September 28, 2018.
But Khashoggi – a royal family insider turned critic – was told he would have to return to pick up the document on October 2.
He was last seen on CCTV entering the building at 1:14pm.
His body was hacked to pieces and removed from the building, with investigators later concluding Khashoggi was restrained and injected with a large amount of drugs.
The Saudi government denied involvement, claiming he was killed in a ‘rogue operation’ by a so-called ‘Tiger Team’ who were sent to persuade him to return to his homeland.
The CIA said early on that the assassination could not have been carried out unless an express directive had come from the top of the Saudi executive – i.e. the Crown Prince Bin Salman.