Alarming claims and revelations in killing of Saudi journalist

Claims and revelations over the apparent killing of a Saudi dissident in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey are quite alarming.

New York Times: Turkish Officials Say Khashoggi Was Killed on Order of Saudi Leadership

Top Turkish security officials have concluded that the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on orders from the highest levels of the royal court, a senior official said Tuesday.

The official described a quick and complex operation in which Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulateby a team of Saudi agents, who dismembered his body with a bone saw they brought for the purpose.

Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, have denied the allegations, insisting that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate freely shortly after he arrived. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has demanded that the Saudis provide evidence proving their claim.

The security establishment concluded that Mr. Khashoggi’s killing was directed from the top because only the most senior Saudi leaders could order an operation of such scale and complexity, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose confidential briefings.

Fifteen Saudi agents had arrived on two charter flights last Tuesday, the day Mr. Khashoggi disappeared, the official said.

All 15 left just a few hours later, and Turkey has now identified the roles that most or all of them held in the Saudi government or security services, the official said. One was an autopsy expert, presumably there to help dismember the body, the official said.

A publication with close ties to Mr. Erdogan’s government, the newspaper Sabah, reported Tuesday that unnamed officials had said the police were examining the possibility that Mr. Khashoggi had been abducted and not killed, possibly with the help of another country’s intelligence officers.

The official who spoke about Mr. Khashoggi’s killing said that report and other similar ones were incorrect and were probably the result of the limited information shared among different agencies within the Turkish government.

Another person briefed on the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity to disclose confidential details, told The Times on Saturday that Turkish intelligence had obtained a video of the killing, made by the Saudis to prove that it had occurred.

A commentator close to Mr. Erdogan’s government said so publicly on Tuesday.

“There is a video of the moment of him being killed,” Kemal Ozturk, a columnist in a pro-government newspaper and the former head of a semiofficial news agency, said in an interview on a pro-government television network, citing unnamed security officials.

So alarming multiple claims, some disputed.

Fox News: US intercepted Saudi plans to capture missing journalist, report says

U.S. intelligence agencies reportedly intercepted Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist who disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey.

The Washington Post is reporting that before the journalist disappeared on Oct. 2, Saudi officials discussed a plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia.

It remains unclear if the Saudi government intended to arrest or kill the journalist known for his writings criticizing the Saudi leadership, or whether the U.S. government informed Khashoggi that he was the target of the Saudi government, the report said.

Questions about what the US did, and if they knew whether they did anything to try to prevent what seemed about to happen.

The journalist’s fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, wrote an op-ed on Tuesday expressing hope her man is still alive. “Although my hope slowly fades away each passing day, I remain confident that Jamal is still alive,” she wrote. “Perhaps I’m simply trying to hide from the thought that I have lost a great man whose love I had earned.”

Cengiz urged President Trump and his wife Melania Trump to help shed a light on the journalist’s disappearance. “At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance,” she wrote.

Washington Post: Trump wants answers about missing Saudi writer

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is “demanding” answers from Saudi Arabia about missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and wants to bring his fiancée to the White House.

Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday that he has a call in to his fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

Trump says nobody knows exactly what happened and expressed hope that Khashoggi is not dead.

He says he’s spoken with the Saudis about what he called a “bad situation,” but he did not disclose details of his conversations.

It certainly looks like a bad situation. And a tricky one for the US – they supply a lot of weaponry to Saudi Arabia: U.S. sells 6,700 missiles to Saudi Arabia as part of $1 billion deal:

“This proposed sale will support U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives by improving the security of a friendly country which has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic growth in the Middle East,” the State Department said, adding that the deal “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

The murder (or abduction) of Khashoggi puts the US in a difficult position.

Haaretz: Trump’s Saudi Policy Lets MBS Think He Can Get Away With Murder, ex-U.S. Officials Say

As fears grow about fate of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, whom Turkish authorities believe was killed in Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, experts warn that White House silence is part of the problem

 Former U.S. officials believe the Trump administration’s friendly policy toward Saudi Arabia has caused its leaders to believe they face no consequences for their actions. The fears were raised following the mysterious disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last week, amid reports that he was murdered while visiting Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.

The Trump administration has made a noticeable effort to improve America’s relations with Saudi Arabia, which became tense during President Barack Obama’s time in office. Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia as his first foreign visit as president, in May 2017, and the Saudi leadership vocally supported his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

A close relationship has also developed between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

A former Middle East adviser to both Republican and Democratic administrations:

Miller’s “just about anything” statement refers to a series of steps previously taken by the crown prince to oppress opposition to his rule. Over the past year, he has had hundreds of Saudi businessmen and former officials arrested without due process. His government has also jailed women’s rights and anti-corruption activists, accusing them of a conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Crown Prince Mohammed has also intensified Saudi Arabia’s war against Iran and its proxies in Yemen – a war that has turned into a full-blown humanitarian disaster. The Saudis also detained Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last November, reportedly holding him against his will and forcing him to resign as Lebanese premier (Hariri walked back that decision when back in Beirut).

As far as is known, the Trump administration didn’t criticize or warn Saudi Arabia about any of these policies. In fact, it actively supported and encouraged some of them. When the Saudi leadership rounded up hundreds of political rivals and held them at a Riyadh hotel-cum-interim prison, Trump tweeted:

That message was well received in Riyadh. “The Trump administration made it clear from early on that it had little interest in protecting human rights, except when it comes to the rights of Christian minorities,” Tamara Cofman Wittes, a former State Department official who is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told Haaretz.

Trump, she added, “said very explicitly that he is not interested in telling other countries how to run [their] government. Could this be seen as a green light for oppressive actions? Certainly when compared to the previous policies of every American president since the end of World War II.”

So the actions of Saudi Arabia in relation to Khashoggi are in the spotlight, but what Trump and his administration has done and does now is also very important.

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42 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  October 11, 2018

    That’s probably been worth a lot of jobs.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  October 11, 2018

    send ‘Murray’…to sort it out.

    Reply
  3. David

     /  October 11, 2018

    So now Trump is blamed for something the Saudi spooks may have done, well that is bloody ridiculous.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 11, 2018

      Nobody’s blaming him yet. They’re waiting for him to introduce sanctions on arms sales.

      Reply
      • David

         /  October 11, 2018

        Could be waiting a very loooong time for sanctions. Its a Washington Post reporter so who knows how bothered he is.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 11, 2018

          Could be waiting a very loooong time for sanctions

          Well, yes. Bibi will be telling Jared to tell Trump not to do it.

          Reply
          • David

             /  October 11, 2018

            I dont get what interest Israel would have in this particular game.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  October 11, 2018

              Anti-Iran alliance, so developing friendly relations and cooperation. Probably a bit embarrassed but Bibi’s not easily embarrassed. Hard to find friends in the Middle East that aren’t arseholes.

      • Gezza

         /  October 11, 2018

        Trump’s good friend MBS, son of King Salman who Trump has just said is “a fine man” is running things in Saudi Arabia and is directly in charge of the Security and Intelligence agencies, david. This hit would have been personally authorised by him.

        Reply
        • David

           /  October 11, 2018

          I dont doubt if something happened it was approved from the very top in Saudi Arabia, I would bet the poor buggar has been sliced up and disposed of too I just find the that because Trump was friendly its given them carte blanche to go knocking off critics absurd.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  October 11, 2018

            Well yes, but you would. Because that would suggest Trump has been conned, iinto supporting a pack of arseholes, which he has.

            Reply
            • David

               /  October 11, 2018

              Saudi Arabia and their various incarnations of that awful regime have been bowed too for 50 plus years by the west because of oil obviously but it would be the first time a western leader, who all traipse to the kingdom, has been associated with their assassination hi jinx.

            • Gezza

               /  October 11, 2018

              Well, exactly. Nothing’s probably going to happen. If they have to the Saudis will possibly just claim some rogue element did it without approval from the top (impossible) & there’ll be some kind of cosmetic hand slap from the US but $110 billion dollars in arms sales is a lot of needed income for Trump’s administration, and probably a lot of jobs, and they & Bibi want regime change in Iran, not Saudi Arabia.

        • Gezza

           /  October 11, 2018

          (There is the possiblity Khashoggi has just been renditioned somewhere – and Ankara has done this to try and force the Saudis to produce him alive somewhere, but their not having done so yet suggests he’s a goner.)

          Reply
  4. David

     /  October 11, 2018

    Maybe 200 people on earth care about this guy, a few more will have a cursory interest because he is in the media, a larger group will have it confirm their distaste of the Saudi,s and a larger group will use it to hate on Trump.
    99% of the .0001% of the population who bother to flick over the article will just say if you poke the bear and then drop into its embassy you are batshit crazy certifiable and now swimming with the fishies. The journalist is a Muslim and a Saudi specialist he must have known they are hardly squeamish.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  October 11, 2018

      but we are unanimous in our concern for the…Skripals….naturally.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 11, 2018

      But Trump has already said this morning:

      Aljaz tv has just showed footage of Trump at the White House responding to questions about Khashoggi – we don’t know what happened trying to find out what happened sad situation, very bad situation we are going to take a look at its a terrible thing King Salman is a fine man says has spoken to Saudis “at the highest level” won’t say to who Kashoggi’s “wife” (actually his partner/fiancee) has written to him and Melania they have invited her to come to the White House we can not let this happen to reporters: to anyone

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  October 11, 2018

        Quite an interesting Press Conference this morning. Talks about Hurricane Michael, also now says Nikki Haley might have told him a year ago she’d only be there for two years, and threatens India with something at the end: “they’ll find out, soon”. Not quite sure what that was about. Possibly their buying arms off Russia?

        Khassoggi bit starts at 11.06. Enjoy.

        Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  October 11, 2018

    The Turks should arrest all the consulate staff and charge them with murder.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 11, 2018

      The Aljaz Ankara reporter says although the Saudis have said they had invited them to inspect the consulate, the Turkish Police still haven’t been allowed in to the Consulate and are not being allowed to bring in the people they specifically want to (guessing forensics experts). Also that the Turks have video of an SUV with blacked out windows driving a few metres to the Consul’s house and of other vehicles leaving, but they are refusing to allow the Turks to inspect any of these.

      He says there are reports of leaks coming from Saudi intelligence trying to suggest it was an attempted abduction but went wrong when they drugged but overdosed him and killed him by accident – hoping that maybe if they can say it was manslaughter it won’t be quite so bad.

      Their Washington reporter says there are some senators who were previously supporters of the regime using very strong language demanding an explanation and some foreign relations committee or other has sent a letter to President Trump that potentially will require sanctions to be imposed.

      This apparently is causing headaches for Turkey because they have to do something about this outrage being conducted on their soil but have been reluctant to say anything officially or release full details of what information they have yet because they will have to take strong diplomatic action such as expelling diplomats when they would prefer not to.

      There seems good reason to believe the NSA, which has apparently admitted previously that it listens to Saudi Communications was monitoring this plot developing and would probably have reported it, so there are issues around why Khashoggi wasn’t warned.

      What has caught the Saudis out is that Kashoggi took his fiancee along and told her to wait outside, probably with instructions that if he didn’t reappear, who to contact.

      It’s all speculation it seems to me – and Aljaz must be enjoying the discomfort for the Saudis – but there has been a major miscalculation by the Saudis.

      Reply
  6. duperez

     /  October 11, 2018

    So they murder people who upset them? Big deal, they’re letting women drive cars so it’s a great regime.

    Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  October 11, 2018

    Aljazeera reports:
    Washington, DC – A bipartisan and influential group of US senators called on President Donald Trump to investigate and potentially sanction Saudi Arabia under US human rights law for the disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    In a letter released by Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the senators invoked terms of the 2012 Magnitsky Act requiring the president “to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing” and demanding a report to Congress within 120 days.

    “Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest-ranking officials in the government of Saudi Arabia,” the letter signed by 22 senators said on Wednesday.

    The Magnitsky Act provides for an automatic trigger if members of Congress request an investigation. The law sought to punish Russian officials for the death of Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky in a Moscow prison in 2009, and led to the sanctioning of a number of high-ranking Russians by the Obama administration.

    Aljaz’s Ankara reporters update:
    There are 22 security cameras in and around the consulate, but the Saudis have told Turkish authorities no video footage can be made available because none were recording on that day.

    Reply
  8. MaureenW

     /  October 11, 2018

    Why is there such a big deal being made over this incident? It does seem to have the type of exposure that smells like a set-up.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  October 11, 2018

      I think its because Trump and co have made such a big thing out of how vile the Iranian regime is and now its time for them to acknowledge how vile the Saudi regime is. The king might be a fine man to Trumpy and even Barak but they probably shouldn’t be selling them weapons Maureen.

      Certainly has some “dramatic” features that make one wonder who’s orchestrating what.

      Maybe the Russians?

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  October 11, 2018

      It is a big deal because it will force the US to sanction its Arab counter to Iran and make it difficult for other western countries to support their alliance. A gross miscalculation by the Saudis as well as a vile piece of evil.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  October 11, 2018

        Exactly.

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  October 11, 2018

        It’s all very good news for the Emir of Qatar, I imagine. He & Erdogan are good friends.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  October 11, 2018

          The Saudis have made Jared & Trumpy look like chumps. Dunno what it is about these Saudi characters but they sure lack finesse.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  October 11, 2018

            Some US security intelligence “expert” commenter just made the observation that The Magnitsky Act still leaves the decision whether to apply sanctions or not to the President of the US, and pointed out that while every US president since Roosevelt has arranged an accommodation of convenience with Saudi Arabia, Trump is the first to go out of his way to build and promote a warm personal relationship with the Saudi Royals. He suggested Trump would therefore be very reluctant to approve any sanctions should they be recommended. However he also noted that its virtually impossible to get bipartisan support for just about anything in the US these days and that it is therefore quite significant that this action is seen to be so egregious by both republican and democrat senators it isn’t going to easily go away.

            Reply

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