On the 2nd of October 2018 Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Journalist and confirmed critic of the Saudi Arabian government walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in order to collect papers confirming his divorce from his ex-wife. He was never seen alive again.
I’ve lived and worked in the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia for six months. It gave me a very rare opportunity to experience life amongst the Arabs and I got to know and understand how their society works. When I apply that knowledge to the events of 2nd October I get a very different conclusion to the rest of the Western World as to what happened and why.
In this essay I am not trying to justify the actions of any one person or government; what I am doing is trying to explain how this saga is viewed by the Saudis themselves. At the same time, I am raising some questions about the circumstances that lead to this man’s death.
When I first heard the suggestion that Turkish authorities were investigating the disappearance of a former Saudi Journalist by the name of Jamal Khashoggi, and that it had been suggested that he was deliberately murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate, I was a bit taken aback. I thought It was best to wait and see before jumping to any conclusions.
Then when the Saudi authorities issued a statement denying any such thing had happened and that Jamal had left the consulate many hours previously, I called the deliberate-murder-theory complete rubbish. I was certain that he most likely was sitting downstairs at the consulate being “persuaded” to return home to Riyadh to face trial.
This is standard practice.
As time progressed and more information came to light from the Turkish authorities, I still thought best to wait. Then the Saudi Government issued a statement saying that they were setting up a joint investigation with Turkish authorities. My reaction was “What on earth have you idiots done?”
This is not standard practice.
Then, when the Saudis announced that Jamal Khashoggi was killed by a “Rogue Agent”, my reaction was “Holy Jesus! Someone has really stuffed up.”
Currently the world is in the process of condemning Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy, and specifically the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman al Saud, for callously ordering the torture, murder, and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
The media has described Jamal as a journalist who managed to escape the regime and took up work in the United States for the Washington Post. In that role he was able to freely speak out against Saudi Arabia’s ruling Family. The man was lured to the consulate with the promise of the legal documents that he sought and then murdered by a specialist squad sent to Istanbul to kill him.
This narrative hasn’t changed, and puts the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the Saudi government in a very bad light.
In considering the alternative narrative, it is necessary to get news from sources based in the Gulf States. The details provided by Al Arabiya and ArabNews sites provide a better picture of the thoughts of the Saudi Government.
So, what happened to Jamal Khashoggi?
Jamal Khashoggi was targeted for return to Riyadh to answer questions in regards to his activities within the Muslim Brotherhood. All “appropriate” means were to be used to “persuade” him to return.
Being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood implies that you are actively involved in terrorism and are likely attempting to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia.
The operation was most likely undertaken with the knowledge of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and it is even likely that he may have spoken to Jamal during the course of his detention at the consulate. The operation was handled by the head of security for Saudi Arabia, and a select group of security personnel were flown to Istanbul from Riyadh for the operation using the cover of diplomatic immunity to avoid scrutiny by the Turkish authorities.
Unfortunately, the idiots (my emphasis) that Saudi Arabia sent took the order from the head of security too literally when he said that he wanted “Khashoggi’s head”. They subsequently tortured, killed and dismember Khashoggi, then packed up the body and spread it around consulate officials’ homes and the various parklands of Istanbul. At some point they realised they had stuffed up. The team leader decided to grab Khashoggi’s cloths and make it look like Jamal had left through the side entrance of the consulate.
The group reported back saying that Khashoggi had been released and then proceeded home back to Riyadh. When the Turkish authorities started investigating Khashoggi’s disappearance, the Saudi Arabian government issued a statement saying that Jamal had safely left the consulate, accusing the Turkish government of spreading misinformation. They made this accusation based on the reports given to them by their operatives.
They weren’t to know it was their own security people who were lying.
Reports from Turkey persisted, including that suggestion that the Turkish authorities had a full recording of the entire event. More than likely the Turkish security services had recorded the entire event through the listening devices installed in the consulate.
The Crown Prince ordered a separate investigation team to go to Istanbul to find out what really happened. The head of security and the idiots that went to Istanbul were all taken into custody and questioned.
The security personnel proceed to tell their interrogators that Khashoggi was killed by accident, as if he accidently tripped over a bone saw. The Saudi Arabian government issued a statement to the world saying that Jamal had in fact died by accident.
They were given yet another set of lies by this bunch of incompetent fools.
With the assistance of the Turkish authorities, the Saudi investigators uncovered the truth, most likely by way of the full audio recording that confirmed that there was no accidental death. Saudi Arabian authorities for a third time had to issue a statement to the world. This one had it that “Rogue Elements” within the security forces had murdered Khashoggi.
Both the Crown Prince and the King of Saudi Arabia showed to the world their deep remorse over the events and provided assurances that this sort of mistake will not be repeated.
How can we know that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmon didn’t order the murder, as what is currently being stated in the Western media?
In Saudi Arabia the situation is such that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmon could easily say that he wanted Jamal Khashoggi killed and it would be done, no question. So, there is no need to have any covert operations. The Crown Prince has little concern over the views of Western Nations to a prearranged murder; even the views of the United States of America doesn’t count for much.
He isn’t lying because he doesn’t need to.
He appears to us to show no remorse towards the death of Jamal Khashoggi. This isn’t quite correct. Saudi society views death differently to how we in the West view death. It was the will of Allah that events unfolded as they have, and such it was Jamal’s fate.
The meeting between the Saudi family of Jamal Khashoggi (by way of the head of the family, Jamal’s son), the Crown Prince and the King of Saudi Arabia in which the Crown Prince and the King offer their condolence to the family, says straight away that this murder was a mistake.
If it was the will of the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salmon that Jamal Khashoggi was to be assassinated in the manner that he was, then more than likely the whole family would be thrown in jail.
There was never any question of offering an explanation to the rest of the world. It has nothing to do with the rest of the world and it is best for us to stay out of the internal affairs of Saudi Arabia. Recall the recent diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada when Canada’s foreign minister tweeted concerns about Saudi Arabia’s respect for human rights. The response from Saudi Arabia was exactly that; stay out of our internal affairs.
The men sent over from Riyadh have been described in the mainstream as elite members of the Saudi security forces.
I have instead described them as idiots. They were clueless as to how to mount a covert operation, missing the basics like checking that the consulate grounds were free of listening devices. They were great at killing and dismembering people. It is just that thanks to the Turkish authorities, the whole world got to listen in. Combined with their failure to get clear instructions as to their duties on this mission, the comical attempt to cover their tracks and subsequent lies they told to their superiors reinforces my belief that they really didn’t have any idea as to what they were doing.
To be fair there isn’t much call for espionage in Saudi Arabia. If they are going to kill you then they don’t normally want to keep it a secret. It is only the West and the Russians that pride themselves in committing murders without detection.
How should Western Nations react?
Should the West be protesting against the ruthless tactics employed by Saudi Arabia against Jamal Khashoggi? I don’t think so. The operation was totally botched and those involved will be punished for their actions. The Saudi Arabian government has already confirmed this.
If Western nations want to protest to Saudi Arabia solely on the basis of this one murder then we are being wilfully ignorant about Saudi Arabia.
Part of my experience of Saudi Arabia was learning how to avoid situations where I could find myself inside a Saudi jail. The world has finally caught on to what I have known for years as to what goes on inside Saudi jails.
We can send a message to Saudi Arabia if we chose to. It would involve the entire Western world banning all shipments of oil from Saudi Arabia. It would then require extending sanctions to include all the members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation States as they all hold the same values as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Follow that up by the expulsion of every single Muslim from all Western Societies, and then you will have sent a message.
Otherwise you are only condemning that which is placed in front of you and wilfully ignoring the rest.
Why is Saudi society so cruel compared to Western society?
There is some logic sitting behind the harshness and cruelity as we perceive it in Saudi Society. The lesson they have learnt over many hundreds of years is that with some people, compassion and kindness is an invitation for cruelty in return.
We often discuss the risk of terrorism and random attacks by Muslims in Western cities but this is nothing compared to the threats posed against the Saudi Monarchy. We perceive them being obsessed with wealth and power, but it needs to be remembered that the King of Saudi Arabia is responsible for the management and protection of the two holy sites of Mecca and Medina, and nothing can be allowed to compromise that task.
In their defence the rules and consequences of breaking them are there for everyone to see. I signed a contract before entering Saudi Arabia that stated that I would not contravene the country’s rules, rules based on Sharia Law. It was clearly explained to me what the consequences would be if I breached that contract. In turn I had to learn from the Arabs themselves how to conduct myself within their community and how to understand their ways so that I didn’t accidently step over the line. They were prepared at least to teach me their ways.
All the statements to date from the Saudi Arabian government mention Jamal Khashoggi’s involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood. That leads to the question then as to what the FBI in the United States knew of his activities and his links to terrorism. If he was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, how was he able to enter the United States and gain employment with the Washington Post? He may have been just a journalist but that isn’t what the Saudis are saying.
Who is Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman?
Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is not a crazy lunatic. He is an Arab.
He has been able, unlike any other member of the Saudi Royal Family, to gain the trust of King Salman and has been allowed to control nearly all the major institutions in Saudi Arabia. In my time in the country I came to sense the importance of his role in the way Saudi society works and how it is changing under his stewardship. He isn’t going anywhere in a hurry.
Some of the recent behaviour of Saudi Arabia appears irrational by our standards but it does make sense when you understand the challenges the country faces.
The recent imprisonment of leading Saudi figures, including members of the royal family as ordered by the Crown Prince, was a “shake-down” operation designed to extract trillions of dollars. The operation was targeted at members of Saudi society that had most benefitted from the flow of petrodollars which in most cases were gained through bribery and corruption. Saudi Arabia is undergoing a massive transformation, with the Crown Prince attempting to convert the oil-based economy to a manufacturing and tourism-based economy under the 2030 plan. This has never been attempted before and it doesn’t help when the cash needed for funding this transformation is being siphoned off by members of your own extended family.
The war in Yemen has been going on for more than 5 years. It was the result of Saudi Arabia wanting to protect the southern border from terrorists entering through Yemen. Similarly, Qatar has shown support towards the Muslim Brotherhood and for this reason we have seen diplomatic ties between Doha and Riyadh severed.
Is Saudi Arabia a sponsor of Terrorism?
I see a lot of comments from people saying that Saudi Arabia is actively funding terrorism with the aim of destroying the United States. It needs to be remembered that Osama bin Laden had called for the overthrow of the Saudi Royal Family. The call followed a move by the Saudi Arabian government to allow foreign troops to be stationed at Riyadh during the first Gulf War.
To allow non-Muslim troops to be stationed in the holy lands was totally unheard of and says something of the relationship and trust between the Saudi Royal Family and the United States Government.
People may think that Saudi Arabia’s existence assists the spread terrorism across the world. It can be said that Saudi Arabia has been able to reduce the risk of terrorism by fighting against those that threaten the Kingdom. Currently the Kingdom sees the Muslim Brotherhood as a major threat. There is evidence to support a claim that the Brotherhood is also a threat to the West and for this reason I accept the continuing support of the United States towards the Saudi Royal family.
Gary Slenders is Chemical Engineer with over 30 years in the Wastewater Industry. Apart from having worked for all the major Water Authorities across Australia, he has worked across the world including the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
His experience in Saudi Arabia drew his attention to how badly Western Nations are dealing with the influx of Muslim Migrants. He is a member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and a big supporter of free speech.