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article imageOp-Ed: New official version of Khashoggi murder still absolves MBS

By Ken Hanly     Nov 15, 2018 in Politics
The Saudi Public Prosecutor has issued a rare press release that summarized the new official version of events in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. As in the older version, the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), is absolved of any responsibility.
The entire rare press release by the Public Prosecution sets forth in detail the new official narrative of events in the Khashoggi murder: The Public Prosecution said in a press briefing that through the investigation carried out up to date with the 21 suspects in the case of the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi, the investigation has resulted in the following findings:
1. ‏The incident began on 19/1/1440 (29/9/2018) upon the issuance of an order to bring back the victim by means of persuasion, and if persuasion fails, to do so by force. The former Deputy President of the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP) issued this order to the leader of the mission.
2. ‏The leader of the mission formed a 15-member team that consisted of three groups (negotiations/ intelligence/ logistics) to persuade and return the victim. The leader of the mission suggested to the former Deputy President of the GIP to assign a former colleague to head the negotiation group in the team because of his previous relationship with the victim. This former colleague was assigned at the time to work with a former Advisor.
3. The former Deputy President of the GIP contacted the former advisor to request assignment of the individual with whom the victim had a previous relationship. The former advisor agreed to this request and asked to meet the leader of the mission.
4. The former advisor met with the leader of the mission and the negotiation team; to share with them information relevant to the mission based on his specialization in media. The former advisor expressed his belief that the victim was coopted by organizations and states hostile to the Kingdom and that the victim’s presence outside of Saudi Arabia represents a threat to national security and he encouraged the team to persuade the victim to return, noting that his return represents a significant achievement of the mission.
5. The leader of the mission contacted a forensics expert to join the team for the purpose of removing evidence from the scene in the case force had to be used to return the victim. The forensics expert joined the team without the knowledge of his superiors.
6. The leader of the mission contacted a collaborator in Turkey to secure a safe location in case force had to be used return the victim.
7. After surveying the Consulate, the head of the negotiation team concluded that it would not be possible to transfer the victim by force to the safe location in case the negotiations with him to return failed. The head of the negotiation team decided to murder the victim if the negotiations failed. The investigation concluded that the incident resulted in murder.
8. The investigation concluded that the crime was carried out after a physical altercation with the victim where he was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death, May Allah bless his soul.
9. The investigation has identified those that ordered and carried out the murder, totaling (5) individuals that have confessed to the murder.
10. After the murder the victim’s body was dismembered by the individuals that have committed the murder and was transferred outside the consulate building.
11. The investigation concluded that the body was removed from the Consulate building by (5) individuals.
12. The individual who delivered the body to the collaborator has been identified.
13. Based upon the description provided by the individual who delivered the body to the collaborator, a composite sketch of the collaborator has been produced.
14. The investigation identified the individual who wore the victim’s clothes after the murder and disposed of the victim’s belongings in a trash receptacle, including his watch and glasses, after leaving the Consulate building. In addition the investigation
identified the individual that accompanied him.
15. The investigation established that the surveillance cameras in the Consulate were disabled, and the investigation identified the individual responsible for doing so.
16. The investigation found that (4) suspects provided the logistical support to those who carried out the crime.
17. The investigation concluded that the leader of the mission agreed with the negotiation group and their head (that made the decision to murder the victim and carried out the crime) to write a false report to the former Deputy President of GIP that stated that the victim had left the Consulate building after the failure of negotiating or forcing his return.
Note that no names of anyone of those mentioned are given. Some of the names are identified in a post by the Moon of Alabama: "The former Deputy President of the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Major General Ahmed al-Asiri, issued an order to the mission leader Maher Mutreb to bring Kashoggi back to Saudi Arabia by means of persuasion or by force.
‏The leader of the mission formed a 15-member team that consisted of three groups (negotiations/ intelligence/ logistics) to persuade and return the victim. Mutreb consulted with the now fired advisor to MBS, Saud al-Qahtani, because Qahtani knew Khashoggi."
No order for the murder would be given without authorization of the Crown Prince
Notice that it was the head of the negotiating team that decided to murder Khashoggi if negotiations failed. However, he surely could not have made that decision without the agreement of his superiors and ultimately the Crown Prince. The original order by Major General Ahmed al-Asiri said nothing about murder. The head of the negotiating team would have needed to clear the murder with him who in turn would have had to clear it with the Crown Prince. How the mere head of the negotiating team could have made the decision on his own is unclear.
The appended video made it clear that given the nature of the Crown Prince's control of Saudi Arabian events it is not at all likely that the murder took place without his authorization.
The Moon of Alabama on the official narrative
The Moon article notes that the official story manages to absolve not only the crown prince but also his media advisor Saudi al Qahtani and Major General Ahmed al-Asiri. While the leader of the mission could be sentenced for falsifying the report, it is the head of the negotiation team and some of his helpers who will bear the brunt of the penalties, The article claims that all are commoners that are three or four levels below the top level of officials.
The article agrees with my own opinion arguing: "The story is of course not believable. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. No low level employee would dare to decided to kill a person of higher interests when the order says to bring the person back alive. Neither the mission leader nor the negotiation team leader would take such a step without consulting with Riyadh."
The Moon article argues that the murder was clearly already planned at a higher level before the team landed in Istanbul. The official explanation of why the forensic expert was there makes little sense. He was obviously there with his bone saw to dismember the body. One would not bring someone who looks like the victim to make it look like he walked out of the embassy in case something bad happened. Of course the forensic expert would not go without the permission of his superiors.
Where is the body and why is the person who received it not identified?
The narrative has returned to the view that the body was turned over to a local collaborator. Although the investigators know who turned the body over, the collaborator is not known. In other words the body was turned over to someone that was not identified. Someone recruited him. Who? Why is his identity unknown since it would be crucial to finding the body? It seems that the Saudis do not want the person to be identified.
The US is buying the new story
The United States released a list of those sanctioned for being involved in the Khashoggi murder just as the Saudi Public Prosecutor announced its activities. The Public Prosecutor in a statement said: " reference to the case of the murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi, may Allah bless his soul, and based on the information provided through the joint Saudi- Turkish Joint team, and the investigations conducted by the Public Prosecutor with the suspects in custody, whose total number has reached (21) individuals; after the summoning of (3) additional suspects by the Public Prosecution. The Public Prosecutor announced that (11) suspects have been indicted, and their cases will be referred to court, while the investigation with the remaining suspects will continue in order to determine their involvement and their role in the crime. The Public Prosecutor has requested the death penalty for (5) individuals who are charged with ordering and committing the crime and for the appropriate sentences for the other indicted individuals."
The United States listed the actual names of those being sanctioned: "Saud Al-Qahtani is a senior official of the Government of Saudi Arabia who was part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018. This operation was coordinated and executed by his subordinate Maher Mutreb, and involved participation of at least 14 other Saudi government officials: Salah Tubaigy; Meshal Albostani; Naif Alarifi; Mohammed Alzahrani; Mansour Abahussain; Khalid Alotaibi; Abdulaziz Alhawsawi; Waleed Alsehri; Thaar Alharbi; Fahad Albalawi; Badr Alotaibi; Mustafa Almadani; Saif Alqahtani; and Turki Alsehri. The Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Mr. Khashoggi was killed, was overseen by Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi. All of these individuals are designated for being responsible for, or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in serious human rights abuse."
The list is noteworthy in that it includes Saud al-Qahtani who was absolved of blame by the official Saudi narrative. However, it appears that the US is now accepting the new Saudi narrative and the sanctions will be regarded as sufficient punishment along with whatever the Saudis do. The US has also been attempting to get Turkey to go along with this travesty of justice as well as it has been exploring ways to possibly extradite Fetullah Gullen to Turkey. Turkey claims that Gullen and his followers were responsible for a coup attempt against him.
NBC news claims: "The secret effort to resolve one of the leading tensions in U.S.-Turkey relations — Gulen's residency in the U.S. — provides a window into how President Donald Trump is trying to navigate hostility between two key allies after Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi on Oct. 2 at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.It suggests the White House could be looking for ways to contain Erdogan's ire over the murder while preserving Trump's close alliance with Saudi Arabia's controversial de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."
It seems clear that the US is ready to make up with the Saudis and hopes to move on from the murder leaving the real culprits scot free and making a mockery of the claim that the US seeks justice. It seeks a coverup with minimal punishment of Saudi Arabia.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Khashoggi murder, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Public Prosecutor, MBS, Saudi arabia
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