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Mohammed bin Salman’s Gruesome Crime

Jamal Khashoggi offers remarks during POMED's "Mohammed bin Salman's Saudi Arabia: A Deeper Look.".Photo credit: April Brady/Project on Middle East Democracy/Flickr

The Wall Street Journalreports on the most recent details from Turkish authorities about the grisly murder of Jamal Khashoggi:

The recording indicates how Mr. Khashoggi was killed in the office of the Saudi consul general, Mohammad al-Otaibi, minutes after he walked into the consulate building on Oct. 2, said people familiar with the matter. Mr. Khashoggi wasn’t interrogated, the people said. Instead, he was beaten up, drugged and killed by Saudi operatives who had flown in from Riyadh earlier in the day, the people said.

Then, on the recording, a voice can be heard inviting the consul to leave the room, the people familiar with the matter said. The voice of a man Turkish authorities identified as Saudi forensic specialist Salah Al Tabiqi can be heard recommending other people present to listen to some music while he dismembered Mr. Khashoggi’s body, the people said.

The details of the crime are horrifying and gruesome, but they are important for establishing the nature of the crime committed against Mr. Khashoggi and the intent behind it. There is now not much doubt that the Saudi government sought to kill him as soon as they had detained him, and they had arranged for him to return to the consulate on that day so that they could carry out the murder. The forensic specialist was called in immediately to dispose of the evidence. It also seems pointless to deny that the crown prince is responsible for ordering the murder. The New York Timesreports that several of the men believed to be involved in the murder are close associates of the crown prince or members of his security detail:

One of the suspects identified by Turkey in the disappearance of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi was a frequent companion of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — seen disembarking from airplanes with him in Paris and Madrid and photographed standing guard during his visits this year to Houston, Boston and the United Nations.

Three others are linked by witnesses and other records to the Saudi crown prince’s security detail.

A fifth is a forensic doctor who holds senior positions in the Saudi Interior Ministry and medical establishment, a figure of such stature that he could be directed only by a high-ranking Saudi authority.

There is no chance that all of these men were engaged in some unauthorized mission without the crown prince’s knowledge and approval. The fact that so many of them were so closely linked with Mohammed bin Salman suggests that they were chosen precisely because they were willing to do whatever was asked of them. The sheer recklessness and stupidity of the crime also points to the crown prince, who has a reputation for making terrible and impulsive decisions without thinking through the consequences.

When we add everything up, we have to conclude that it was a planned, state-sanctioned hit carried out on the orders of the kingdom’s de facto ruler, the Saudi government is still lying about what happened, and the Trump administration is shamelessly covering for them as much as possible. The crown prince and Saudi government bear full responsibility for the crime, but our executive branch is doing everything it can to make themselves accessories after the fact.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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