There were 15 of them. Most arrived in the dead of night, laid their trap and waited for the target to arrive. That target was Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi critic of his country’s government and its young crown prince. Since his killing in Istanbul, Turkish media has released a steady drip feed of evidence implicating Saudi officials. Weeks of investigation by The Times builds on that evidence and reconstructs what unfolded, hour-by-hour. Our timeline shows the ruthless efficiency of a hit team of experts that seemed specially chosen from Saudi government ministries. Some had links to the crown prince himself. After a series of shifting explanations, Saudi Arabia now denies that this brazen hit job was premeditated. But this reconstruction of the killing, and the botched cover-up, calls their story into serious question. It’s Friday morning, Sept. 28. Khashoggi and his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, are at the local marriage office in Istanbul. In order to marry, he’s told that he needs Saudi paperwork and goes straight to the consulate to arrange it. They tell him to return in a week. It all seems routine, but it’s not. Inside there’s a Saudi spy, Ahmed al-Muzaini, who’s working under diplomatic cover. That very day, he flies off to Riyadh and helps concoct a plan to intercept Khashoggi when he returns to the consulate. Fast-forward to Monday night into Tuesday morning. Saudi agents converge in Istanbul aboard separate flights. Muzaini, the spy, flies back from Riyadh. A commercial flight carries a three-man team that we believe flew from Cairo. Two of the men are security officers and they’ve previously traveled with the crown prince. A private jet flying from Riyadh lands around 3:30 a.m. That plane is often used by the Saudi government, and it’s carrying nine Saudi officials, some who played key roles in Khashoggi’s death. We’ll get to Team 3 later on, and for now focus on these men from Team 2. This is Salah al-Tubaigy, a high-ranking forensics and autopsy expert in the Saudi interior ministry. Turkish officials will later say his role was to dismember Khashoggi’s body. Another is Mustafa al-Madani, a 57-year-old engineer. As we’ll see, it’s no accident that he looks like Khashoggi. And this is Maher Mutreb, the leader of the operation. Our investigation into his past reveals a direct link between Mutreb and the Saudi crown prince. When bin Salman toured a Houston neighborhood earlier this year, we discovered that Mutreb was with him, a glowering figure in the background. We found him again in Boston, at a U.N. meeting in New York, in Madrid and Paris, too. This global tour was all part of a charm offensive by the prince to paint himself as a moderate reformer. Back then, Mutreb was in the royal guard. Now, he would orchestrate Khashoggi’s killing. And his close ties to the crown prince beg the question, just how high up the Saudi chain of command did the plot to kill go? Early Tuesday morning, Khashoggi flies back from a weekend trip to London. He and the Saudis nearly cross paths at the airport. The Saudi teams check into two hotels, which give quick access to the consulate. Khashoggi heads home with his fiancée. He’d just bought an apartment for their new life together. By mid-morning, the Saudis are on the move. Mutreb leaves his hotel three hours before Khashoggi is due at the consulate. The rest of the team isn’t far behind. The building is only a few minutes away on foot, and soon, they’re spotted at this entrance. Mutreb arrives first. Next, we see al-Tubaigy, the autopsy expert. And now al-Madani, the lookalike. The stage is almost set. A diplomatic car pulls out of the consulate driveway and switches places with a van, which backs in. Turkish officials say this van would eventually carry away Khashoggi’s remains. From above, we can see the driveway is covered, hiding any activity around the van from public view. Meanwhile, Khashoggi and his fiancée set out for the consulate, walking hand-in-hand. In their final hour together, they chat about dinner plans and new furniture for their home. At 1:13 p.m., they arrive at the consulate. Khashoggi gives her his cellphones before he enters. He walks into the consulate. It’s the last time we see him. Inside, Khashoggi is brought to the consul general’s office on the second floor. The hit team is waiting in a nearby room. Sources briefed on the evidence, told us Khashoggi quickly comes under attack. He’s dragged to another room and is killed within minutes. Then al-Tubaigy, the autopsy expert, dismembers his body while listening to music. Maher Mutreb makes a phone call to a superior. He says, “Tell your boss,” and “The deed was done.” Outside, the van reportedly carrying Khashoggi’s body pulls out of the side entrance and drives away. At the same time, the Saudis begin trying to cover their tracks. While Khashoggi’s fiancée waits here where she left him, two figures leave from the opposite side. One of them is wearing his clothes. Later, the Saudis would claim that this was Khashoggi. But it’s al-Madani, the engineer, now a body double pretending that the missing journalist left the consulate alive. Yet there’s one glaring flaw: The clothes are the same, but he’s wearing his own sneakers, the ones he walked in with. Meanwhile, the van that’s allegedly carrying Khashoggi’s body makes the two-minute drive from the consulate to the Saudi consul’s residence. There’s several minutes of deliberations but the van eventually pulls into the building’s driveway. Again, it’s hidden from public view. It’s now three hours since Khashoggi was last seen. The body double hails this taxi and continues weaving a false trail through the city. He heads to a popular tourist area and then changes back into his own clothes. Later, we see him joking around in surveillance footage. Over at the airport, more Saudi officials arrive on another flight from Riyadh. They spend just five hours in Istanbul, but we’re not sure where they go. Now we pick up Maher Mutreb again, exiting from the consul’s house. It’s time for them to go. Mutreb and others check out of their hotel and move through airport security. Al-Muzaini, the spy, heads to the airport too. But as they’re leaving Istanbul, Khashoggi’s fiancée is still outside the consulate, pacing in circles. She’ll soon raise the alarm that Khashoggi is missing and she’ll wait for him until midnight. The alarm spreads around the world. Nine days later, the Saudis send another team to Istanbul. They say it’s to investigate what happened. But among them are a toxicologist and a chemist, who also has ties to the hit team. He and Tubaigy attended a forensics graduation days before Khashoggi was killed. Turkish officials later say that this team’s mission was not to investigate, but to cover up the killing. Now the Saudi story has changed, and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for several suspects in Khashoggi’s killing. But that doesn’t include Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who many Western government officials are convinced authorized the killing. Khashoggi’s remains still haven’t been found.