Sometimes I am ahead of the curve. On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, I submitted an article to Ami Magazine predicting that the body of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi would never be found inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey because he had been dismembered and thrown into the sewers.
A week later, on Wednesday, October 17, the Turkish government confirmed my allegations and said that they were searching the sewers for DNA traces of the murder victim. Normally it will take another ten to 20 days to process the DNA results, which means they could be released before the American midterm elections. Coincidence?
I suspect that the Turkish government, with some technical assistance from Russian intelligence, is planning to embarrass President Trump with conclusive evidence that his “good friend” Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), the crown prince and effective dictator of Saudi Arabia, was directly responsible for ordering the murder of a Saudi journalist for the Washington Post who was a legal resident of the United States of America.
The Democrats will quite likely seize on the Turkish announcement of forensic DNA evidence as more proof that the Trump administration had been delaying its own FBI investigation because Trump was colluding with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to cover up the murder.
The Democrats will almost certainly accuse Trump of purposefully delaying the FBI investigation into the Khashoggi killing until after the midterm elections so as to shield himself and his family from the disclosure of their embarrassing financial connections to the head hit man for the House of Saud.
To the leftist media, it could look like the House of Saud had paid the Trumps off to look the other way while they whacked a journalist critical of the House of Saud who worked for The Washington Post.
Where is the evidence of collusion? The Democrats can only point to one single suspicious statement. When the original Saudi cover-up no longer became plausible because of the growing mountain of Turkish police evidence, Trump suddenly announced his theory that the murder may have been committed by “rogue killers” without the knowledge of the Saudi government.
Why did he say that? Perhaps, the president has some secret information from intelligence sources that he cannot reveal or discuss in public. On the other hand, he just might have made up the “rogue killers” story for political reasons.
It is certainly true that the rogue agent theory would directly benefit the kingdom. President Trump’s theory would clearly help deflect culpability from MBS to some unnamed, unknown, rogue elements who might have carried out the murder without the crown prince’s knowledge or permission.
But that would mean that someone in Saudi Arabia was still a murderer and would have to be brought to justice. The Saudis have no qualms about executing rogue agents who commit murders overseas, even if they are princes of the House of Saud. After 9/11, three members of the Saudi royal family were quietly executed for financially supporting al-Qaeda in their attack upon the US.
On the other hand, it is possible that this was not a rogue operation at all, but an assassination ordered by the highest Saudi authorities. The President’s unusual delay in sending the FBI to assist the Turkish investigators might have been an intentional strategy to buy time for the Saudis to come up with a scapegoat to fit the president’s “rogue killer” theory.
Sure enough, the Saudis have finally come up with a fall guy. The alleged leader of the “rogue killers” who murdered Khashoggi is now reputed to be Asiri al-Asiri. That appears consistent with previous NSA electronic eavesdrops that previously named Asiri as the recruiter of a Saudi “tiger team” for covert operations.
On the one hand, “tiger team” could mean the 15-man hit squad that flew into Turkey from Saudi Arabia to carry out the Khashoggi murder. On the other hand, General Asiri was widely known as the man who ran a very different kind of covert operation for the Saudi Royals. He was the crown prince’s bag man.
General Asiri’s job was to hand out government contracts to foreigners as a reward for their loyalty to the kingdom. It may be a coincidence, but Asiri’s list of foreign beneficiaries includes several members of the Trump family. If Asiri was guilty of ordering his covert tiger team to murder Khashoggi, it could be politically embarrassing for President Trump.
But what if General Asiri did not do it? Suppose that he was just a money launderer, not a murderer. Until a few months ago, he had no experience whatsoever in intelligence operations, let alone the complicated special operations required for assassinations.
No one in his right mind would have put this guy in charge of a hit team. So far, US and Turkish intelligence have identified many of the 15 assassins as members of the Saudi intelligence services with no previous connection to Asiri’s army unit. In fact, Asiri never really commanded an army unit. He just commanded a microphone. He was the press spokesman for the Saudi-led alliance that waged war against the Iranian-funded Houthi militia in Yemen. The general had a difficult PR job as the Saudis were accused by the press of massacring innocent Yemenite civilians instead of Houthi soldiers.
To put it bluntly, Asiri did not have a clue how to run an assassination program, which may be why he was recruited by the Saudi royals to be the fall guy. In March 2018, General Asiri was suddenly promoted from his army PR job to become the Deputy Director or Vice President of the Saudi CIA, the General Directorate of Intelligence. In addition, he was promoted in military rank to two-star major general.
Wow, that is a big promotion for a PR flack with no intelligence training or experience. Only six months later, the new kid on the job finds himself accused as the head of an international group of “rogue killers” who assassinated Khashoggi to intimidate other members of the press.
Lies and More Lies
The Saudi spin doctors are now working overtime to shift blame for the ongoing intimidation program from MBS to the newly arrived Asiri. The crown prince, the Saudi spin doctors now reluctantly concede, might have once casually mentioned to Asiri that media critics like Khashoggi should be persuaded into toeing the Saudi media line or intimidated into silence.
The general was supposed to shut Khashoggi up with money or threats, but not kill him. That was a rogue operation by Asiri.
The White House quickly echoed the Saudi’s new PR line: “President Trump has told the world that ‘rogue killers’ might have been responsible for the disappearance and death of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“‘Informed sources’ in Washington are now trying to work out who the chief rogue might be, with some describing him as a fall guy.”
CNN pinpointed a “high-ranking officer with general [security] intelligence” who was “close to the inner circle” of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The Daily Beast quoted “diplomatic circles in Washington” as saying that “the Saudis will place blame for Khashoggi’s murder on a Saudi two-star general new to intelligence work.” It said the general had “received approval from the crown prince to interrogate Mr. Khashoggi.”
The gist of the Trump-Saudi spin is that new kid Ahmed al-Asiri was overeager to prove his worth and went overboard to show he could handle his new intelligence post. During the interrogation, his poorly trained agents accidentally killed Khashoggi and, in a panic, got rid of the body in a gruesome manner.
The Saudis claimed his death was simply the result of a rogue operation that went far beyond what MBS had approved. Gee, too bad…but it was an accident.
Not many intelligence experts are buying this latest Saudi story, any more than they bought the original Saudi line that Khashoggi walked out of their consulate alive and the Saudis just did not know where the poor fella went. The cynical Saudis actually suggested that Khashoggi might have run away from his waiting fiancée because he had changed his mind about getting married.
The Saudi consulate said they would be glad to release their surveillance camera tapes to prove Khashoggi had left the consulate alive, but unfortunately their recorder was not on that day. Uh-huh.
Coincidentally, most of the employees at the nearby consular residence had been given that day off—so there were no witnesses. Yeah, right.
Unfortunately for the Saudis, the Turkish police had placed a whole bunch of surveillance cameras all around the Saudi consulate and the consular residence. The police video tapes show that Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate that day, but he never came out.
More embarrassingly, the Turkish police cameras had no problem in filming and identifying the 15 Saudi agents who just happened to arrive at the consulate just before Khashoggi entered:
“Turkish officials have said they possess evidence that the 15 Saudi agents flew into Istanbul on October 2, assassinated Mr. Khashoggi, dismembered his body with a bone saw they had brought for the purpose, and flew out the same day. Records show that two private jets chartered by a Saudi company with close ties to the Saudi crown prince and Interior Ministry arrived and left Istanbul on the day of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Turkish officials said that Mr. Khashoggi was killed within two hours of his arrival at the consulate. That timeline would not have allowed much time for an interrogation to go awry…But the presence among the suspects of an autopsy expert suggests that killing might have been part of the original plan.”
Of course they planned to kill him. They didn’t bring a bone saw from Saudi Arabia to Turkey to slice deli meat for their lunch.
Still, the Saudis stubbornly denied that there was any prior plan to kill Mr. Khashoggi. The planned interrogation simply got out of hand and accidentally caused his death. Asiri’s clumsy interrogator just did not know his own strength.
The Turkish police announced that all this was another lie. There never was any attempt to obtain information by any of the Saudi agents. Mr. Khashoggi was seized and beaten up the second he set foot inside the consular lobby. The torture began immediately. There was no interrogation.
The Saudis were caught lying again and the Turks claimed they could prove it. Their police had obtained audio recordings of what transpired inside the consulate during the entire period while Khashoggi was being tortured and killed.
How did the Turkish police overhear what was going on inside the soundproof interior offices of the consulate? Had they breached diplomatic protocol and planted electronic listening devices inside the Saudi consulate?
Oh no, said the Turks with a straight face. We did not bug the Saudi consulate. The 15 Saudi agents were making a videotape of their torture and execution to show their bosses back home that they had carried out the job.
Well, how did the Turks see the videotape then? Well, they just listened to the Saudi agents talk about the videotape by listening through Khashoggi’s Apple watch.
What? Yep, the Turkish police claim they have a way to overhear the conversations of anyone in the vicinity of someone wearing an Apple Watch. That eavesdropping ability came as news to Apple as well as the NSA.
President Trump and the Saudis were publicly skeptical that any such audiotapes existed. Instead of producing a copy of the audiotape itself, the Turks then produced a written transcript of what they claimed to have heard going on inside the consulate.
If it is authentic, the alleged transcript would be direct evidence that Khashoggi was tortured by security agents close to Crown Prince Mohammad. The beatings were so severe that the consul objected and told them to take it outside.
One of the 15 agents ordered the consul to “shut up” or he would be killed the next time he went home to Saudi Arabia.
A pro-government Turkish newspaper published an account of Khashoggi’s alleged killing and dismemberment at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, including the conversations that took place. A New York Times report cited a senior Turkish official confirming those details. A lot of Turkish journalists have been allowed to listen to portions of the gruesome audiotape.
The Turkish police are taking DNA samples from the sewer pipes, which would confirm that a murder had indeed taken place in the consulate offices above.
Apparently, the blood splatters inside the offices were so extensive that the Saudis had to repaint several rooms before allowing the Turkish police inside the consulate. Nevertheless, the police announced they were able to retrieve biologic samples from underneath the paint that they believe will match Khashoggi’s DNA.
The Turkish police have also found the fingerprints of the Saudi agents at the same bloody places inside the consulate as described in the transcript. The transcript is good, but the audiotape would be the best evidence of who was present at the scene of the crime, because each voiceprint could then be independently authenticated.
Obviously, the agent who threatened the consul and ordered him to “shut up” was confident that his own authority exceeded that of a mere consul, despite being the highest-ranking official representative of the House of Saud in Istanbul.
The audiotape would not only identify the voice of the ringleader of the gang that killed Khashoggi, it would show that the agent believed he was empowered by a broader criminal conspiracy at the highest levels of the Saudi kingdom. With that kind of backing, it was plausible that he could murder the consul back home just as easily as he was killing Khashoggi in the consulate.
The terrified consul certainly believed the threats and fled back to Saudi Arabia the next day. He has not returned to his post. Nor has he answered any questions from the Turkish police. His silence is deafening.
Since the consul was the only person actually present to hear the conversations among the criminals while the crime was taking place, he could confirm from his own personal knowledge whether or not the transcript was accurate. Think about what that means.
If the transcript is a forgery, the consul would have been trotted out to denounce it long ago. Since the government of Saudi Arabia has not made their consul available, it is reasonable to conclude that the horrible events did take place in his office just as the transcript states.
The Saudis are afraid to order their consul to deny the transcript because the Saudi rulers know that the Turks almost certainly possess an audiotape that will verify that their transcript is accurate. If the Saudi consul ever denied the authenticity of the transcript, the Turks could shame them as liars by releasing the audiotape to the public, or simply playing it in private for the Americans.
In either case, the Saudi claims of accidental death during interrogation would be totally discredited. Instead of doing a complete and thorough investigation, the Saudis are clearly suppressing evidence.
My prediction is that the Saudi royals will never permit their consul to discuss the authenticity of the conversations recorded in the Turkish transcript. Instead, the Saudis are playing hosts to an international game of “Let’s Make a Deal.”
Here is what each side will get as a prize:
Turkey gets money. The Turkish currency had been in a steep slide because of President Trump’s sanctions over Turkey’s continued imprisonment of an American pastor. The Saudis promise to quietly prop up the Turkish currency in return for Turkey letting the pastor go, dropping their Khashoggi investigation and destroying all the evidence.
The American pastor has been released by the Turks, so Trump can claim an important victory to his evangelical base on the eve of the midterm elections. I predict that as soon as the elections are over, Trump will lift his sanctions against Turkey as Secretary of State Pompeo has already hinted.
I also predict that even before American sanctions on Turkey are removed, Saudi Arabia will quietly fund the revival of the Turkish economy.
As their part in the three-way economic bargain over Khashoggi’s body, I predict that the Turkish police will be ordered to destroy all the DNA evidence they have collected, if they have not done so already.
How do I know? Because the Turkish police have now begun to pretend that Khashoggi perhaps, maybe, did leave the consulate after all and was probably murdered somewhere else, just as the Saudis have claimed.
The Turkish police have announced that they have now broadened their search areas to include remote forest areas far from the city. The search is a theatrical waste of time. The Turkish cops already know where Khashoggi’s body, or what’s left of it, is buried.
“Turkish sources have told Al Jazeera that ‘important samples’ were found during searches of two Saudi diplomatic buildings in Istanbul on Wednesday, an area of the consulate called the C-block. It was only open to diplomatic staff. Sources…have said that they have very strong evidence that Khashoggi was killed inside the C-block of the consulate.”
I predict that the Turks will never release the DNA evidence they obtained from either of the freshly painted offices in C-block. Nor will they ever produce the DNA collected from the connecting sewer below the consulate. Nor will they show any evidence from the bloody footprints the murderers left in the consular residence.
Instead of a proper Muslim burial, the last remnants of Khashoggi’s blood and tissue will probably be incinerated in a Turkish crime laboratory without the DNA results ever being published.
I suspect that President Trump has been kept informed of the secret progress of the Saudi-Turkish cover-up negotiations. Advance knowledge of the plan to make Asiri the scapegoat would explain why President Trump deliberately delayed in sending in the FBI to Turkey, as is normally done in such cases. The FBI’s forensic experts are thorough and professional. The FBI would have independently catalogued each piece of police evidence, thus making any subsequent Turkish destruction of the evidence all but impossible.