Thursday, October 18, 2018

Turkey: Audio Offers Gruesome Details of Jamal Khashoggi Killing

Evidence mounts that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman order Khashoggi murder.

Both the dictatorial Saudi regime and the Trump/Pence White House are engaged in contortions and lies as they try to disseminate misinformation about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  What is most stunning is both the brazenness of the Saudis in thinking no one would notice their foul deed, and the extent to which the Trump/Pence White House is willing to try to distort the emerging facts about the murder and float ridiculous statements such as "rogue killers" might be responsible.  As if rogue killers could have gained access to the Saudi consulate without someone sending orders to allow their entry.  Now, Turkey is offering additional glimpses at the intelligence information they have and none of it is good for the Saudi and Trump/Pence disinformation campaign.  Here are highlights from the New York Times on new information released by Turkey:
ISTANBUL — Saudi agents were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into their country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Mr. Khashoggi was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed, and within two hours the killers were gone, according to details from audio recordings described by a senior Turkish official on Wednesday.
The government of Turkey let out these and other leaks about the recordings on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Ankara, in an escalation of pressure on both Saudi Arabia and the United States for answers about Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident journalist who lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post.
The new leaks, which were also splashed in lurid detail across a pro-government newspaper, came a day after Mr. Pompeo and the Trump administration had appeared to accept at face value the promises of the Saudi rulers to conduct their own investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance — regardless of Turkish assertions that senior figures in the royal court had ordered his killing.
[T]he brutality described in the leaks served as a reminder of why Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance has triggered an international backlash more severe than countless mass killings or rights violations.
 Trump, for his part, pushed back by questioning the Turkish claims, . . . “I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. . . .
American intelligence officials say they have growing circumstantial evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi . . .
Top Saudi officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in the disappearance — denials that they repeated to Mr. Pompeo when he visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a friend of Mr. Khashoggi’s, has yet to publicly accuse the Saudis of abducting or killing him, or to make public any evidence to support such accusations.
But Turkish officials on Wednesday reiterated their conclusion that a team of 15 Saudi agents, some with ties to Crown Prince Mohammed, was waiting for Mr. Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate the moment he arrived, at about 1:15 p.m. on Oct. 2.
After he was shown into the office of the Saudi consul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, the agents seized Mr. Khashoggi almost immediately and began to beat and torture him, eventually cutting off his fingers, the senior Turkish official said, describing the audio recordings.
A top Saudi doctor of forensics had been brought along for the dissection and disposal of the body — an addition to the team that Turkish officials have called evidence of premeditation. And as the agents cut off Mr. Khashoggi’s head and dismembered his body, the doctor had some advice, according to the senior Turkish official.
Listen to music, he told them, as he donned headphones himself. That was what he did to ease the tension when doing such work, the doctor explained, according to the official describing the contents of the audio recordings.
Although several Turkish officials have described the audio recordings or other evidence related to Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance in the consulate, all have declined to disclose how the material was obtained.
[P]eople knowledgeable about the Saudi plans said the royal court was preparing to acknowledge Mr. Khashoggi’s killing and punish what they would describe as a rogue operator in the Saudi intelligence service.
On Wednesday, however, the leaks resumed and escalated, a possible sign of Turkish frustration as the Saudis have delivered no such public explanation and the Trump administration has shown no rush to get one.
[T]he implication that the Saudi government orchestrated Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and possible death has created a stigma around Crown Prince Mohammed, who runs the country.
His plan for a financial conference in Riyadh next week has been upended by cancellations from high-profile Western financiers and media organizations. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, on Wednesday became the latest to scrap plans to attend.
Former United States intelligence officials have said they consider their Turkish counterparts both competent and credible when it comes to domestic intelligence gathering, and it would not be surprising if the Turks possessed audio surveillance from within the Saudi Consulate.

The corrupt and brutal rule of the Saudi monarchy needs to end.  What should/would replace it is an open question. The take away is that murder is only too acceptable to the Saudi rulers.  It is disturbing that it is seemingly also acceptable to the Trump/Pence regime.

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