Big Red Car here on a glorious Sunday morning thinking about the strange doings in L’Affaire Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist who has come up missing in Turkey at the Saudi Arabian consulate under suspicious circumstances.
It is alleged that Mr. Khashoggi has been murdered by the Saudis for having written columns in the Washington Post critical of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, and the government.
Khashoggi is documented (video) as having entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October and was never seen exiting thereafter. His fiance was waiting in a car across the street from the consulate.
What is alleged is that the Saudis dispatched a fifteen man assassination squad who murdered him and dismembered him within the consulate.
He was, apparently, set up by being told to return four days later after an earlier meeting. In that interim, the Saudis dispatched their hit squad. The hit squad departed immediately after Khashoggi went missing.
The Saudis deny all allegations – in fact, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself made the denials, which greatly elevates the stakes – and say that Khashoggi left by a rear entrance which was not covered by a camera. [OK, so he didn’t hook back up with the fiance waiting across the street in the Mercedes?]
The Turks, who claim to have a recording and video of Khashoggi’s last minutes taken through his Apple watch (a technology which the American NSA has kept secret for years), say that the story is fiction. The Turks also note that the local Turk staff was given an unscheduled day off on the day Khashoggi was scheduled to come get some papers. WTF?
In any event, Khashoggi, who was seeking paperwork (proof that he had been divorced from a previous wife) to be able to marry a fiance, Hatice Cengiz, showed up and disappeared. These facts are not in dispute.
Who is Jamal Khashoggi?
This is not an ordinary person as it relates to Saudi Arabia.
1. Jamal Khashoggi is the grandson of Muhammad Khashoggi (Turk) who was the personal physician of King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia — WOW!
2. Jamal is the nephew of Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi who figured prominently in the Reagan admin Iran-Contra scandal.
3. His cousin is Dodi Fayed who died with Princess Diana in her fatal Paris car crash.
4. Khashoggi was educated in the United States, receiving a degree in Business Administration from Indiana State University.
5. Khashoggi was a journalist, but he was also involved in high level intelligence operations both with Saudi and US intel organizations. He interviewed Osama bin Laden when OBL was conducting jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s. He met with OBL in Tora Bora and the Sudan and was sympathetic to his efforts (as were most Saudis).
Khashoggi is believed to be the only non-royal in the Saudi firmament who knows the kingdom’s intimate dealings with al Qaeda in the time period directly before the 9-11 terror attacks on the United States. This is a chapter in their support of terrorism which the Saudis desperately want to stay buried.
6. In 2015, Khashoggi started a satellite news organization in Bahrain in partnership with billionaire Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Bloomberg Television. This well-funded operation lasted ELEVEN hours before the Bahrainis succumbed to pressure from Saudi Arabia to take it off the air. [You thought the US startup environment was tough?]
7. Khashoggi took up refuge in the United States in June 2017 and began to write for the Washington Post three months later. He wrote critical columns including pieces criticizing the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, the Lebanon dispute, the Canadian dispute, the arrest of prominent women’s rights activists such as Loujain al-Hathloul, and the Saudi war in Yemen against the Iranian proxies, the Houthis.
Bottom line, he was a major league pain in the ass for the Saudis and used the Washington Post as his platform. A high level pain in the ass who attracted attention from the Crown Prince. Not a good thing.
In a very short period of time, less than a year, he emerged as a knowledgeable and articulate critic of the kingdom which spurred the wrath of the Crown Prince, not a smart play.
Why does the United States care, Big Red Car?
OK, dear reader, let’s talk about some difficult things.
1. Jamal Khashoggi was a legal resident of the United States and, therefore, entitled to the full protection as if he were a citizen. Some may quibble on this, but he was a legal resident, y’all.
2. It is reported that US intel intercepted communications from Saudi personages that indicated they intended to “capture” Khashoggi. US parties suggest there was no indication whether the Saudis intended to arrest, interrogate, torture, or kill him. [Huh? Isn’t that enough? asks your Big Red Car.]
3. The National Security Agency, the guys who listen to your grocery list with Whole Foods, indicate the warning – that an American legal resident was the target of a foreign intelligence agency – was conveyed to the White House through normal intel channels along with a million other similar warnings and bits of dirt.
The United States did not warn Jamal Khashoggi what was happening. This could be huge.
4. The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to President Trump, in accordance with the provisions of the Global Magnitsky Act, to determine whether Jamal Khoshoggi was indeed “…kidnapped, tortured, or murdered by the Saudi government.”
That letter triggers a 120-day game clock for the executive branch to report back to the legislative branch.
President Trump has already promised “severe punishment” if the allegations prove to be true.
The Saudis have already promised massive retaliation to any sanctions or punishment.
The world is a dangerous place
OK, so this looks pretty shitty to the Big Red Car. Not one to jump to conclusions, but I suspect the story is true, but the evidence will speak for itself and lead us to the truth.
A live and smiling Jamal Khashoggi would prove the world wrong and the Saudis right, but nobody has seen the guy and his fiance was waiting for him across the street in a car. Come on.
The US deals with a lot of dangerous situations and is forced to maintain orderly diplomatic relations. It is not a pretty picture.
Russia – the US maintains diplomatic relations, shares intel on terrorism and the Russians use nerve agent in places like London to kill defectors.
China – the US maintains diplomatic relations, shares intel on terrorism, asks for help with North Korea and the Chinese routinely throw dissidents into re-education camps, have armed . They persecute Uyghurs and incarcerate a million at a time. There are supposed to be 30MM Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
North Korea – President Trump and the despotic leader of North Korea, who starves his people into submission, are engaged in a love affair to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons. [For the record, the BRC applauds this effort. Any means to rid a shithead of nukes is going to get my support.]
Cuba – the US has had a love affair with Cuba’s dictators, Castro and Raul, for a long time. When last seen, President Obama was doing the wave at a ball game with Raul. We reopened our embassy there. President Trump jilted the affair and has sent the Cubans back to time out.
I could add to the list, but you get the idea — the US has to maintain relations with a lot of shitheads who do not share our values. This is in the interest of world peace, intel gathering, and trade.
The United States of America is still the single best hope for mankind, but we have to deal with a lot of shitheads amongst our friends and enemies who do not share our values. Be strong.
I pray for President Trump to have the wisdom to handle this situation in the best interests of our country – something I have no reservations he will do.