News: The Terrifying Story of the Death of a Saudi Journalist

by Victor Curiel

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, author, and a former general manager and editor-in-chief of the Al-Arab News Channel was killed in his hotel on October 2nd. No one knows the real story of what happened.

The well known critic of the Saudi government and of both Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and the country’s king, Salman of Saudi Arabia went missing. He also opposed the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. On October 2nd, 2018 Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul but did not leave the building and had many people worried. After several news outlets started to publicize and speculate his death, Saudi officials teamed with Turkish investigators to lead an investigation inside the consulate on October 15th to discover the actual whereabouts of the journalist.          

Since then, Saudi Arabia has presented an unstable and unclear narrative of what happened to Khashoggi. After weeks of denying involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and claiming that Khashoggi was in fact alive and had left the building unharmed,  Saudi Arabia stated that he was killed in the Istanbul consulate, and that his death was the result of a fistfight on Friday, October 19th. The cause of death was later specified to be the result of a choke hold or strangulation by an unknown perpetrator. As a result of the initial investigation, the Saudi government fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis for questioning. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Major General Ahmed Al-Assiri. Although the official story never specified such, on Sunday during an interview with Fox News officials, Saudi Arabian foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, went further by describing Khashoggi’s death as a “murder” and a “tremendous mistake.” He also said they “don’t know where the body is.”

“The individuals who did this, did this outside the scope of their authority…There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up. That is unacceptable in any government,” Jubeir later said that Saudi Arabia was taking action to investigate how Khashoggi died and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

“We are determined to uncover every stone. We are determined to find out all the facts. And we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder,” he said.

On Monday, CNN published surveillance footage which, according to a Turkish investigator, showed a Saudi operative dressed up in Khashoggi’s clothes on the day the journalist was killed. The man, whom the Turkish official alleges is a body double, was seen at various locations around Istanbul that same day. Jubeir told Fox that Crown Prince Salman was not aware of the operation beforehand and the senior leadership over intelligence service was not aware of this.

The United States views on the case have been generally neutral, as the events and evidence regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance have been unsteady. When inquired on the case, President Trump has clearly stated that the Saudi government has not been truthful about everything.

When asked about Saudi Arabia’s account of the killing of Khashoggi Trump said, “Their stories are all over the place.” 

However, despite the questionable occurrences, Trump has continued to be supportive of the Crown Prince’s leadership and reiterated the importance of economic ties between the two countries.

“He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check…I mean that in a positive way…He truly loves his country,” said Trump.

 The international leaders have to come to question Saudi Arabia’s story. Saudi Arabia has gone from blanket denials of any involvement to an admission that the journalist was killed while visiting the consulate. Omer Celik, a senior official in Turkey’s ruling political party, has vocally questioned the credibility of Saudi Arabia’s explanation for Khashoggi’s death and the credibility of Saudi Arabia’s story.

“We are not preemptively blaming anyone but we will also not allow a coverup…It is a matter of honor for us that this is uncovered. We will shed light on this using all means we have. That is the will of our President,” Celik said on Saturday, in the first official Turkish reaction to Saudi Arabia’s midnight statement saying Khashoggi’s death was accidental.

President Trump, however, again indicated to journalists that he believed the Saudi account was credible, although he added that some questions remained, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains. It seems that the world will have to wait a little longer for investigations to turn up new evidence, until then it cannot be accurately concluded whether or not the official story by Saudi Arabia is regrettably true or  dreadfully false.

 

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