BOOK OF THE WEEK
KILLING IN THE CONSULATE
by Jonathan Rugman (Simon & Schuster £ 20, 368pp)
The ripples of the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, just over a year ago, never stop – and they shouldn't, given the horrible insult to humanity and the freedom that was his brutal murder.
The story refuses to be buried, just like the victim himself, whose dismembered and beheaded body was never found.
Ripple One this week was the news that the massive $ 2 trillion IPO of part of Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia, will be handled by the relatively insignificant stock market in Riyadh rather than London or New York.
This is because of the fear of a kickback in the West against the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful young Arab ruler who was generally believed to have ordered the elimination of the outspoken Khashoggi.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
In his book The Killing In The Consulate, Jonathan Rugman describes how Jamal was lured to the Istanbul consulate
Meanwhile, Washington Ripple Two – gossip that President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, gave MBS (as the Crown Prince is known) the green light to arrest Khashoggi.
The White House rejected the allegation as & # 39; false nonsense & # 39; whatever it may be, but the scorpion's nest around the killing of Khashoggi that almost anything seems possible.
The details of his death are known because they have seeped away into an increasingly shocked world through transcripts of interceptions by security forces that have overheard the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where the murder – by a specially flown-in hit team – took place.
Yet this new account from Channel 4 News journalist Jonathan Rugman still has the power to shock.
He tells how Khashoggi was lured to the Istanbul consulate and then describes – with horrifying verbal dialogue and sound effects – the fight as he was jumped, injected with a sedative and suffocated with a plastic bag.
While life was smothered out of him, down on the consulate walls the gold-framed portraits of three Saudi rulers – the first king of the kingdom, Ibn Saud, the current ruler, Salman, and the heir, MBS.
It was their dictatorial power and their refusal to give in to any form of democracy that the freedom-loving Khashoggi had the urge to challenge.
The journalist (shown in Afghanistan in 2003) was jumped up, injected with a sedative and choked with a plastic bag
The journalist was trapped in the crossfire between freedom of expression and absolute monarchic rule
Caught in the crossfire between freedom of expression and absolute monarchical rule, he paid the ultimate price for speaking against them as a journalist in Saudi Arabia and more recently – in exile – in the influential columns of the Washington Post newspaper.
What happened next brought his death to a new level of depravity, such as something from a slasher film.
Billions of dollars
$ 350 billion pledged by Saudi Arabia to buy US weapons in the next decade
Hidden microphones – security services spotted the consulate the sound of a saw cutting through human flesh.
We must assume that he was dead then, but given the speed with which everything happened, there is no certainty about that.
The head and limbs of the 20-stone Khashoggi were cut off. Similarly his fingers, presumably as a symbolic punishment, Rugman writes for the articles he had typed with them.
His remains were stored in bags and smuggled out of the consulate. Where they ended up is unknown, his final resting place a mystery that still haunts his loved ones.
Within a few hours, the 15-man hit team from Istanbul and headed back home, leaving behind consulate innocence protests and a cover story, apparently supported by fake CCTV shots, which Khashoggi had left unharmed and set off.
The killers thought they had covered their tracks, but they were wrong. It was not long before the Turkish authorities – at the request of the country's leader, President Erdogan, not a friend of the Saudi regime – provided evidence of what had really happened and gave rise to international outrage.
Pictured: A guard walks into the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul after the death of the Saudi journalist
But that outrage was tempered by self-interest. Lucrative arms trade was at stake. This also applied to strategic alliances and power games in the volatile Middle East.
Trump was struck by the hops and condemned one moment while trying to send the crown prince away the next minute, despite the insistence of his own investigators at the CIA that MBS was in his neck.
In addition, there was (and is) the complication of son-in-law Kushner, a close friend of the crown prince and with his own agenda to pursue.
That is true, a year later, things are still standing. Saudi Arabia promises, after finally taking some responsibility, to punish the perpetrators, but no heads have fallen in a country where retaliation is usually fierce and publicly enforced. But, as we've seen, the scandal just won't die. And that shouldn't be either.
Rugman & # 39; s forensic investigation leaves us in no doubt that it was the crown prince who ordered the death of Khashoggi.
The closest employees of Khashoggi are unmistakably angry, but also surprised by his actions. Why did he take the insane risk of going to the consulate in Istanbul when they had warned him often enough that he was a striking man?
The answer is that 59-year-old Khashoggi wanted to marry a younger woman he had just met and had to get official papers to confirm that he was divorced from his previous wife and free to take another.
KILLING IN THE CONSULATE by Jonathan Rugman (Simon & Schuster £ 20, 368pp)
Yet even this, like everything in this confused web of a story, is not as easy as it seems.
Khashoggi was not a saint. His private life was complicated to say the least, with more than one wife, sometimes at the same time, and children he rarely saw. The circumstances left him alone, a desperately lonely man.
His third marriage was a love match with Dr. Alaa Nassif, who led a charity supported by the Saudi royal family.
But his constant campaign against them put her in a compromising position and she insisted that for the sake of his family (and for his own safety) he should stop writing articles that opposed them.
Reluctantly he agreed – leaving him behind, as Rugman puts it, & # 39; muzzled twice, first by the Saudi state and then by the woman he loved & # 39 ;.
In the end he could not remain silent, given all the human rights violations he saw in Saudi.
In 2017, he saw no future for himself in the Kingdom, packed two suitcases, and fled to the US to resume his political writings.
Nassif, stranded back in Saudi Arabia and forbade him to follow, divorced him over the phone. He was destroyed and deeply wounded. And, as he saw it, alone in the world, even while he made his name with his columns in the Washington Post.
Nostalgia and sadness, he wept a lot, an old friend remembered. & # 39; I often saw tears in his eyes. & # 39; He showed signs of depression.
During a trip to Istanbul in May 2018, he met a woman named Hatice Cengiz, an intense 36-year-old academician, and they began to spend time together.
Within a few months, Khashoggi was in love and had hell for marriage. He said to her: & # 39; I have no one to share life with & # 39; and they became engaged.
Her father, however, was wary of Saudi men 's tendency to take several women. He demanded proof that Khashoggi was not a married man.
(He was right to be suspicious. It turned out later – unknown to everyone – a month after he met Hatice, he was secretly married to an Egyptian stewardess in an Islamic wedding ceremony at his Washington home. He was still in touch by telephone shortly before his death.)
The only way Khashoggi could get the papers he needed to satisfy his future father-in-law was by going to the Saudi consulate.
On Friday, September 28, 2018, convinced that his Saudi enemies would not dare attack him in a foreign country, he arrived there and after a friendly exchange with officials he was told to come back next week.
Khashoggi spent the weekend in London at a conference on international affairs, gave a lecture on BBC World News and saw old friends.
Then, a bastard who was about to embark on an exciting new phase in his life, he flew back to Istanbul and on Tuesday afternoon, just after 1 p.m., he presented himself at the entrance of the Saudi consulate.
Viewed by Hatice, he went through the glass revolving doors, embossed with the crossed golden swords that are the national symbol of Saudi Arabia – and was never seen again.
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