Khashoggi Murder: No Stone Should Be Left Unturned

Published on 23rd October 2018

The cruelty numbs. The sheer barbarity conjures the image of cavemen polished by the power of money and immunized from impunity because, after all, any recklessness can be understood with the right transactions. A voice silenced increases the terror in the civil space. The devaluing of human life in pursuit of glorification is haunting.

According to news accounts, in December 2016, the Saudi authorities banned Mr. Khashoggi from writing columns or appearing on television. Early in 2017, he moved to the United States and began writing for the Washington Post.

Khashoggi's Post columns were sharply critical of the Saudi government, particularly Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, known as MBS - next in line for the Saudi throne. In April 2018 Khashoggi wrote that Saudi Arabia, "should return to its pre-1979 climate when the government restricted hard-line Wahhabi traditions. Women today should have the same rights as men. And all citizens should have the right to speak their minds without fear of imprisonment." He criticized Saudi intervention in Yemen and the government crackdown on media and dissent. Khashoggi even established an entity called Democracy for the Arab World Now.

You may have caught a word on the gruesome killing of Mr. Jamal Khasoggi at the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. On that fatal day, on October 2, 2018, he went to get papers for his marriage and never came out. A murder squad lay in wait for him. On that same day, 15 Saudis arrived in two private jets and commercial flight in Turkey. All have been publicly identified through passport scans at the Turkish airport. At least 7 are linked to the Crown Price's security detail.

Horrific details, credited to Turkish officials who admitted having audio and video evidence, give accounts on the cutting of Mr. Kashoggi's fingers, decapitation and dismemberment of his body into pieces. All the 15 men left Turkey the same day after the murder.

First, the Saudi government vehemently denied knowledge of the fate of the journalist and stated that Mr. Khasoggi left its consulate on his own accord few minutes or an hour after he arrived and the men, who are now killers, were described as "tourists."

These denials and alibi making, with the Saudi Counsel General opening drawers to prove to investigators that his government did not have the journalist in its keeping, only mounted international pressure. The diplomat knew Mr. Kashoggi died under his watch. His charade took depravity to a new low that gives diplomatic service a sinister black eye.

After more than two weeks, 18 days later, and search for scapegoats, as some media headlines blasted, Saudi Arabia admitted that the journalist died in its consulate. In the official narrative, it was a "fistfight" with the people whom Mr. Kashoggi met there. The people are now downgraded from tourists to a group that can fly into a country, go to a diplomatic facility, summon the liberty to fight and kill other citizens on a foreign soil.

In this atrocity, the government announced that 18 persons have been arrested with no names announced. 5 senior officers are said to have been relieved of their posts.

How would so many people be engaged in a brawl with one person? The official version did not explain what happened to the body. More chilling, why would an autopsy and forensic expert working for the government be among the brawlers?

It is preposterous for an autopsy expert to be part of the luring negotiators for someone on exile to return home. It does not sound like roguishness. The elements point to premeditation and precision. The killers made only one mistake - not factoring the possibility of sustained outcry. It was to be business as usual, impossible to trace.

Of course, sensing death, mere mortals would try to fight for their life. But why would an altercation even happen since sane governments do not waylay their citizens for interrogation or rendition (to return to their country) when they go to their embassies for consular services.

"The international community must keep up the pressure on Saudi Arabia after its admission that Khashoggi died in its Turkish consulate," Reporters without Borders (RSF) said on Saturday.

"Riyadh has to be held to account for the death of Khashoggi and the imprisonment of other journalists," Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of the Paris-based media rights watchdog tweeted.

"Any attempt to get rid of the pressure on Saudi Arabia and to accept a compromise policy would result in giving a 'license to kill' to a Kingdom that puts in jail, lashes, kidnaps and even kills journalists who dare to investigate and launch debates," he wrote.

"After the recognition of Khashoggi's death, we expect a determined, constant and powerful pressure to be kept on Saudi Arabia in order to get the whole truth on the case and the release of Saudi Arabian journalists [who have] been condemned to crazy and horrible sentence."

Journalists, critics of autocratic systems have disappeared, been blackmailed and jailed without this crescendo of global outcry. Perhaps his would have been one of them, as Mr. Kashoggi's last article for the Washington Post indicated.

And perhaps, his high profile assassination should hold a lasting lesson and open up a new chapter on freedom of the press not only in that section of the Arab world but everywhere and in Africa. Recoiling in fear is not only a dangerous message to journalists and writers, society is harmed by the unchecked impunity.

It is heartening to see powers and entities cancelling their participation in the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia next week. It was dubbed "Davos in the Desert," a moment for the Saudi Prince’s Glittering Showcase.

The bipartisan response from US lawmakers reminds the global society that money has its limits. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted:

"First we were told Mr. Khashoggi supposedly left the consulate and there was blanket denial of any Saudi involvement. Now, a fight breaks out and he’s killed in the consulate, all without knowledge of Crown Prince."

On Saturday, October 20, 2-18, after the Saudi narrative, Turkey indicated that it will not accept 'cover-up' in Khashoggi case.

Turkey will uncover the full details of Khashoggi's killing using all possible means, a spokesperson for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) said. "Turkey will reveal whatever happened. Nobody should ever doubt it," spokesperson Omer Celik was quoted as saying by Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency. "We are not accusing anyone in advance but we don't accept anything remaining covered [up]," Celik added.

Uber, CNN, IMF, Airbus, Deutsche, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, Liam Fox, the UK Trade Secretary, FOX Business Network, Frédéric Oudéa, the Director General of Société Générale, Patrice Caine, the chief executive of Thales, New York Times, JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon and the heads of two top U.S. investment firms — BlackRock and Blackstone; Executives at the Ford auto manufacturing company and the MasterCard credit company, Endeavor — the company who owns the UFC, Google internet search engine company and more have pulled out.

The chiefs of European bankers BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Societe Generale also rescinded acceptances to the conference.

After the Saudi explanation, the Australian government decided it is “no longer appropriate” to attend a summit in Saudi Arabia in light of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, announced on Saturday that news of the arrests of 18 Saudi nationals implicated in Khashoggi’s death and the removal of senior Saudi government officials had caused the government to pull out of next week’s Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.

The official narrative does not seem to allay alarms. The heinousness of it all defies the explanation.

Ms JoeAfrican Union Citizen Journal.


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