In their ever-changing version of what happened to American-based journal Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia has offered yet another story: he was murdered.
“The individuals who this did this outside the scope of their authority,” according to Adel al-Jubeir, a Saudi foreign minister.
“There obviously was a tremendous mistake made, and what compounded the mistake was the attempt to try to cover up,” he said, as reported by the BBC.
Saudi Arabia now says that Khashoggi was killed in a “rogue operation,” of which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no knowledge.
There’s no telling how long Saudi Arabia will stand behind this particular version of the story, one of several that has been released since word of Khashoggi’s disappearance became worldwide news.
Khashoggi, a journalist who had been living in self-imposed exile in the U.S. after being warned by the Saudi government to stop criticizing the Saudi royal family, walked into the Saudi consulate on October 2 of this year. It was the last time he was seen alive.
The claim that Mr #Khashoggi died in a fight does not amount to a credible explanation. There remains an urgent need to establish exactly what happened and anyone found responsible for any offence must be held fully accountable pic.twitter.com/3pC3VqjNRg
— Jeremy Hunt (@Jeremy_Hunt) October 22, 2018
As word of the disappearance spread, Turkey stepped forward to say that he had been killed inside the building — which Saudi Arabia strongly denied. Saudi Arabia stuck to the story for several days that, actually, Khashoggi departed from the consulate building alive and well and through a back door. This is why his fiancee, waiting for him outside, did not see him.
Saudi Arabia tried to float the idea of “rogue agents” killing Khashoggi before, a story Donald Trump quickly seconded back here in the U.S. In an official statement released on Friday, Saudi Arabia said that the 50-something journalist got into a physical fight with agents inside the consulate building and died as a result.
Now, they admit that he was murdered. This may be due to the mounting evidence that Turkey has produced to support their claim that this is exactly what happened to Khashoggi.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman maintains close ties to the U.S. through Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia exchange massive amounts of oil and money, and Saudi Arabia buys more weapons from the U.S. than any other country in the world.
In other words, it does no good for the U.S. if Saudi Arabia’s royal family ordered the murder of Khashoggi or had any other involvement in it in any way.
Turkey claims to have audio recordings proving that Khashoggi was killed, recordings that reportedly have been heard by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Turkish investigators are still searching for Khashoggi’s body, which Saudi Arabia has not produced.
EXCLUSIVE: Surveillance footage shows Saudi operative in Jamal Khashoggi's clothes in Istanbul after the journalist was killed, Turkish source says.@ClarissaWard has more, live from Istanbul: pic.twitter.com/AYZwmqNezf
— New Day (@NewDay) October 22, 2018
What is clear at this point is that someone took great pains to hide the fact that Khashoggi was killed. Early Monday, news broke that one Saudi agent left the consulate building dressed in the journalist’s clothes. He was seen at various locations around Istanbul, presumably posing as Khashoggi, CNN reports.
Saudi Arabia does not have a free press or freedom of speech, and the nation is very tightly controlled by the government. This makes it incredibly hard to believe that any crime of this nature could be carried out in the consulate building without the government’s knowledge.