A Saudi false narrative designed to conceal a murder

By | October 22, 2018

The New York Times reports:

A Saudi operative donned Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes after he was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul and left the building to create a misleading trail of evidence, surveillance images leaked by Turkey on Monday show.

The ruse — acknowledged by a Saudi official and another Saudi briefed on the investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s killing — added to the numerous doubts about the kingdom’s explanation of how the 59-year-old Saudi writer died.

The use of a “body double” suggests a premeditated plan to make Mr. Khashoggi disappear, through death or abduction, and to cover it up — possibly contradicting the Saudi insistence that his death was the accidental result of an altercation.

In a narrative that has been met with wide skepticism by Turkish and American officials, Saudi Arabia has said that the 15-man team sent to Istanbul sought to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return home but that he resisted. That, the Saudis said, prompted a fistfight in which one of the men put Mr. Khashoggi in a chokehold and accidentally killed him.

Saudi officials have insisted that the kingdom’s rulers, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, did not know about the operation ahead of time and that the team was not dispatched from Riyadh with orders to kill Mr. Khashoggi.

But in that story, it is unclear what role there would have been for a large, middle-aged man with gray hair who resembled Mr. Khashoggi. Other members of the team were younger and had clear ties to the Saudi military and security services.

Until this past Saturday, the Saudis had insisted that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate — a false narrative that would have been substantiated by someone who resembled him seen departing the building. [Continue reading…]

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