The website of an international business summit, one which was to begin in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, was hacked to display an image depicting crown prince Mohammed bin Salman executing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Newsweek.
Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of 33-year-old heir Mohammed bin Salman, seeks to become a major destination for Silicon Valley money-men and other business investors in the Middle East. But the brutal murder of Khashoggi after his disappearance from the Saudi embassy in Istanbul earlier this month has cast a long shadow over such aspirations.
Khashoggi has since been reported to have been brutally killed by the Saudi administration, although the kingdom still contends that its leader, Mohammed bin Salman, had no inkling of the fate meted out to the journalist. Although the murder has been attributed to rogue elements within the Saudi regime, international observers who have worked with Saudi Arabia believe that no operation of such a scale could have happened without the approval of its prince.
A day before the summit, which has dubbed "Davos in the Desert," was set to begin, its website was hacked to display an illustration of bin Salman executing Khashoggi. The crown prince is drawn as wearing a thawb -- an ankle-length Arab garment with long sleeves -- with ISIS written on it.
The image was accompanied by the following message, before both were removed from public view.
"For the sake of security for children worldwide, we urge all countries to put sanction on the Saudi regime. The regime, aligned with the United States, must be kept responsible for its barbaric and inhuman action, such as killing its own citizen Jamal Khashoggi and thousands of innocent people in Yemen. The medieval Saudi regime is one of the sources for #Terrorism_Financing in the world."The investment summit initiated by Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative is now the subject of much controversy. A number of investors, high-ranking CEOs, and even entire countries like Australia have pulled out of the summit following Khashoggi's murder. The pressure has also led the United States to withdraw, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin not being scheduled to attend the summit.
The repercussions that the Saudi kingdom might face in wake of Khashoggi's murder may only increase with time, with Germany announcing that it was freezing its arms deal with Saudi Arabia until there were signs of greater transparency and accountability from the Middle Eastern nation.