A smart fellow by the name of Mark Twain (perhaps you’re familiar) once said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.”
When it comes to the grisly and controversial death, and apparent assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Twain appears to have hit the nail on the head. For though I can’t imagine anyone is particularly surprised the autocratic and famously brutal Saudi regime went ahead and murdered a vocal, and self-exiled, critic; the utter audacity of the affair is astounding to the point of perhaps even helping the Saudi Crown Prince’s case.
Saudi Arabia admitted for the first time Saturday what the world was already perfectly familiar with (thanks to Turkey) that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident journalist missing since he entered the Saudi Consulate in the Turkish functional capital of Istanbul more than two weeks ago, was dead.
Khashoggi was by all accounts a marked man. A reputation and portfolio of vocally criticizing the many autocratic regimes, most prominently his native and infamous Saudi monarchy, had the high-profile journalist of the Islamic world on the run and, in fact, in hiding in our very own United States.
Khashoggi was forced to venture to Istanbul’s Saudi consulate apparently in order to get needed documentation to process his marriage; in fact, his fiancé waited outside and was the one to eventually obtain authorities for Khashoggi would never emerge alive nor intact.
With competing narratives from globally influential regimes, let alone news outlets, let’s first go ahead and boil down this case to solely factual information we know to be true.
- Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain marriage papers. The insider-turned-critic of the Saudi government has not been seen since.
- Thursday, the Turkish paper Sabahpublished a report which included stills from a CCTV video taken at the entrance of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showing a Saudi official who entered the consulate more than three hours before Khashoggi arrived.
- The 15-man squad was seen entering before Khashoggi, and leaving hours after his arrival, and has been confirmed to have multiple high profile regime officials and guards.
- The Turkish Government has also now leaked extremely gruesome audio recordings of the Saudi’s including described taping of the journalist’s dismemberment’s planning and execution.
- Saudi intelligence officer and former diplomat Maher Mutreb allegedly was present and played a “pivotal role” a source familiar with the Turkish investigation has told CNN.
- Finally, Saudi state media said Khashoggi died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified Saudi men inside the Saudi Consulate and that 18 men were arrested and are under investigation. None were identified.
- Turkish and international investigation of the scene has yielded evidence that the dismembered diplomat was dissolved with a powerful acid and flushed down the toilets of the consulate with evidence of his remains also found in the plumbing…
While we don’t have evidence, from the still to be completed investigation, to utterly condemn the regime, it’s pretty damn clear they had their hand all over removing Khashoggi’s. The Crown Prince may genuinely not have been directly overseeing this, however the presence of his own guards as well as top officials (who are already meeting ‘mysterious ends’) suggests this hit came from the top.
The biggest aspect that might perhaps inform me that this really could *possibly* be a militant sect within the regime as opposed to the regime itself (again… not likely) is, ironically, the sheer audacity of the whole thing.
The Saudi’s are in a hotbed of international trouble already. They have a new regime figurehead who needs to stabilize and validate his position amongst the international community, even as he wages a savage war in Yemen. All that considered, using FIFTEEN dudes to murder a predictable target within the wall of their own embassy just seems… well like ridiculously bad planning. Which might mean it wasn’t (at least by the King).
Either way, we’ll need more facts and for the multiple investigations to conclude, though its undeniably not looking good for the Saudi’s who have a belligerent past of assassinations, even hiring Americans to pull the trigger.
Sure does makes me thankful to live in a country where I can generally trust myself not to be lynched and dismembered in my various embassies…