Saudi Lies and Deception About Khashoggi Incident
Kingdom officials have been stumbling all over each other, compounding earlier lies and deception with new fabrications about what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.
Each new disinformation version makes things worse. Each is as implausible as others – Khashoggi’s abduction, torture and murder one of countless examples of state-sponsored criminality.
Explaining it implausibly shows incompetence at the highest level of ruling authority.
First came coverup for days, then blame from the top shifted to lower level convenient patsies doing nothing to diffuse international furor.
Nothing stated passes the smell test, especially when one explanation fooling no one is followed by others just as implausible, absurd, insulting and unacceptable.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir weighed in with the latest version. He lied saying crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) was “not aware” of what happened, adding Khashoggi’s killing was a “tremendous mistake” – indeed because of the international furor it caused, not the clearly premeditated murder.
Jubeir lied saying Riyadh is probing what happened, along with determining where Khashoggi’s body was disposed of, adding responsible parties will be held accountable – clearly aiming to absolve MBS for an incident he surely ordered.
No one at a lower level of authority would dare order the murder on their own. Dispatching a 15-member hit squad from the kingdom to Istanbul clearly had to be ordered by the kingdom’s de facto ruler.
Members of the hit squad included security officials and others close to MBS. Jubeir lied claiming they “were not people closely tied to him,” falsely calling what happened “a rogue operation.”
Repeated lies to try shielding MBS reflects a deepening black hole of ineptness, the international community not buying fabricated explanations, the kingdom’s already tattered credibility further shattered.
Turkish officials believe Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, a high-level intelligence officer close to MBS carrying a diplomatic passport, took Khashoggi’s body parts out of the country in a large bag – passing through airport security unchecked because the private plane transporting him and other Saudi assassins left hours after the October 2 killing, before alarm was raised about what happened to the journalist.
On Sunday, a source told Middle East Eye (MEE) that his body was cut into 15 pieces, Mutrib and other hit team members sent to Istanbul by MBS to abduct, torture, murder, dismember, and transport his body to the kingdom for disposal.
According to MEE’s source, “Mutrib was one of seven men taken from the crown prince’s personal security detail” – ordered to punish and eliminate Khashoggi.
The Wall Street Journal reported that MBS called Trump’s son-in-law/regime official Jared Kushner eight days after Khashoggi’s murder, asking why the outrage over the incident.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, Trump and Erdogan spoke by phone overnight, “agree(ing) the Khashoggi case needs to be cleared up with all aspects.”
Al Jazeera cited an unnamed source in the office of Turkey’s prosecutor general saying Khashoggi’s abduction and murder was premeditated by Riyadh – with no further elaboration.
On Monday, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News columnist Abdulkadir Selvi reported evidence shows that the Saudi hit squad “strangulated Khashoggi in 7 – 8 minutes.”
It defies logic to think anyone in the kingdom other than the crown prince ordered his assassination, part of his campaign to suppress dissent.
Inept attempts to shield him from responsibility haven’t diffused the international furor. It’s likely coming because of close kingdom ties to the US, the EU, and other major countries – not wanting the relationship jeopardized.
A Final Comment
On Tuesday, a three-day Saudi “Davos in the desert” investment conference begins. Riyadh said 120 of the originally scheduled 150 speakers will participate.
After cancelling his involvement last week over the Khashoggi incident, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said he’s going – saying the Trump regime doesn’t want to jeopardize America’s strategic and economic ties to the kingdom.
International damage control likely intends a similar response once the current furor cools down.
Russian and Chinese government and business officials are attending the Saudi investment conference. So are their counterparts from many other countries.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”