The Jury Talks Back


Report: Audio Proof Exists That Saudis Tortured, Dismembered, and Beheaded Khashoggi

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:15 pm

Those “rogue killers” got busy quick:

Saudi agents were waiting when Jamal Khashoggi walked into their country’s consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago. Mr. Khashoggi was dead within minutes, beheaded, dismembered, his fingers severed, and within two hours the killers were gone, according to details from audio recordings described by a senior Turkish official on Wednesday.

The government of Turkey let out these and other leaks about the recordings on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Ankara, in an escalation of pressure on both Saudi Arabia and the United States for answers about Mr. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi dissident journalist who lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post.

The new leaks, which were also splashed in lurid detail across a pro-government newspaper, came a day after Mr. Pompeo and the Trump administration had appeared to accept at face value the promises of the Saudi rulers to conduct their own investigation into Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance — regardless of Turkish assertions that senior figures in the royal court had ordered his killing.

. . . .

Whether Mr. Khashoggi was killed before his fingers were removed and his body dismembered could not be determined.

. . . .

A top Saudi doctor of forensics had been brought along for the dissection and disposal of the body — an addition to the team that Turkish officials have called evidence of premeditation. And as the agents cut off Mr. Khashoggi’s head and dismembered his body, the doctor had some advice, according to the senior Turkish official.

Listen to music, he told them, as he donned headphones himself. That was what he did to ease the tension when doing such work, the doctor explained, according to the official describing the contents of the audio recordings.

Wow! It’s … just like the Kavanaugh hearing, isn’t it? After all, who doesn’t remember the leaks describing the audio in which Dr. Ford screamed for her life?

It’s OK, though, I’m told by the Trumpers, because in his numerous columns advocating democracy, pluralism, women’s rights, free speech, and the like, Khashoggi also wrote one supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

The United States’s aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world. The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes. In turn, this will mean the continuation of the causes behind revolution, extremism and refugees — all of which have affected the security of Europe and the rest of the world. Terrorism and the refugee crisis have changed the political mood in the West and brought the extreme right to prominence there.

There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed. It seems clear then that the only way to prevent political Islam from playing a role in Arab politics is to abolish democracy, which essentially deprives citizens of their basic right to choose their political representatives.

I don’t agree with this point of view, but there is a distinction (as Maajid Nawaz and Sam Harris explained in their book Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue) between Islamic terrorists (jihadists) and Islamists, who want Islamic government. Khashoggi argues that Islamism may be inherent in democracy in Islamic societies; I don’t agree, but I also don’t consider that view to be a thoughtcrime for which the appropriate sentence is beheading and dismemberment.

The problem was not the guy writing columns for the Washington Post. At this point, the problem is the guy who ordered the gruesome murder, and those who defend him by spouting Saudi propaganda.

UPDATE: The Washington Post has published Khashoggi’s last column. An editor’s note says:

A note from Karen Attiah, Global Opinions editor

I received this column from Jamal Khashoggi’s translator and assistant the day after Jamal was reported missing in Istanbul. The Post held off publishing it because we hoped Jamal would come back to us so that he and I could edit it together. Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen. This is the last piece of his I will edit for The Post. This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.

Quotable from the column:

My dear friend, the prominent Saudi writer Saleh al-Shehi, wrote one of the most famous columns ever published in the Saudi press. He unfortunately is now serving an unwarranted five-year prison sentence for supposed comments contrary to the Saudi establishment. The Egyptian government’s seizure of the entire print run of a newspaper, al-Masry al Youm, did not enrage or provoke a reaction from colleagues. These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence.

As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate. There was a time when journalists believed the Internet would liberate information from the censorship and control associated with print media. But these governments, whose very existence relies on the control of information, have aggressively blocked the Internet. They have also arrested local reporters and pressured advertisers to harm the revenue of specific publications.

Condemnation, quickly followed by silence.

UPDATE x2: To answer the question of commenter nk: yes, this potentially comes within the Global Magnitsky Act, according to no less a personage than Bill Browder himself.

Now, almost every lawmaker on the Senate Foreign Relations committee is pushing for the Trump administration to use Global Magnitsky Sanctions on whoever is found responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance and/or murder. If the Turkish reports are confirmed, then we in the West must act.

Applying the Global Magnitsky Act to Saudi officials would be particularly powerful. These officials are extremely rich, and they keep their money all over the world. They have bank accounts in every major financial capital, and they own luxury properties in London, Paris, and New York.

The moment that a person is added to a Magnitsky List in the West, it destroys their way of life. Every financial institution will close their account, and they will be denied entry to every desireable area in the world. While asset freezes and travel bans don’t constitute real justice for pre-meditated murder, they’re a lot better than total impunity.

Well said. If the Turks provide the proof, this looks like an appropriate sanction.


  1. Islamic government is, by definition, a theocratic fascist government. They are called islamofascists for a reason.

    As for Khashoggi, he did vastly more than write that one propaganda piece for the Muslim Brotherhood. He was a member of a terrorist organization, one that’s an avowed enemy of America. (The Muslim Brotherhood). The Muslim Brotherhood, BTW, is doctrinally and blatantly against secularism (and thus against any non-islamist participating in government), and is for the imposition of Sharia law, and there is little more barbaric than that. Indeed, it is no coincidence that the Muslim Brotherhood, which is vehemently anti-western and pro islamic fascism, has allied with only one western leader in its 90 years of existence. That ally was, of course, Adolf Hitler, their ideological kin.

    Also, I see much hand-wringing about reports that are every bit as credible as one I’m making here: the working conditions in Santa’s workshop are draconian, the elves are virtual slaves.

    I’m being sarcastic because, yet again, the media is foolishly taking the Turks as credible (Which is as absurd and baseless as taking the Saudi denials as fact). It’s been days, and still, no one reputable has heard this supposed audio tape.

    Think it through; the Turkish ATK party (Erdogan’s party, fully complicit in destroying Turkish democracy and installing Ergogan as dictator – pure political Islam, of course) is a defacto branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is an enemy of the House of Saud, as as the Turkish regime. And so too, Muslim Brotherhood member and propagandist Khshoggi.

    And we don’t actually know, yet, whether he actually went to the Saudi consulate, let alone was killed. I smell a rat, a rather big one. I also consider it more than a little pathetic that the dictator who is most violently persecuting the press (Erdogan) is getting a pass, and being taken as credible.

    On the flip side, the Saudi regime is quite capable of the sort of barbarity they’ve been accused of. Taking their denials as factual is every bit as preposterous as assuming anything coming from the Turkish dictatorship is credible.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 10/18/2018 @ 1:51 am

  2. I support the Magnitsky sanctions but if we want to quickly and easily change Saudi behavior, restrict their access to the Mayo Clinic.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/18/2018 @ 8:29 am

  3. There’s lot of reason to think that the Saudis have an effective influence network in the US. There is new leadership, which may not be pushed into alignment with the US by the Iranian situation. So this could be the first visible sign of a new problem.

    I think there are three angles on this that are worth discussing, that I haven’t seen much, that aren’t obviously Turkish or Saudi propaganda.

    1. We are talking about a foreign national killed by foreign government on foreign soil.
    2. How deeply committed are we to rule of law in this or that foreign country?
    3. Didn’t it go very badly after Carter pressured the Shah?

    1. If it were a foreign communist killed on foreign soil by a foreign government, I would argue for the presumption that we should not object. Journalist or writer for the Washington Post would not change things. I’m not certain what the guy’s politics were, or clear about whether I should classify him with the communists. Probably not, but I dunno.
    2. I see two main ways to change (or maintain) a society. a) Living in it, and influencing it that way. b) From the outside, being willing or able to kill enough people to force the behavioral change, or otherwise end the offensive behavior. I flat out just don’t care about rule of law very much outside of the United States. Outside the United States, I can say ‘maybe the murder of tens of communists will prevent a Mao from murdering millions.’ Inside the United States I am obliged to prioritize rule of law over that judgement call.
    3. If the Saudi regime is in that much peril, we probably need to be prepared to cut our losses when it collapses.

    The obvious simple answer to the tradeoffs and uncertainties would be to exterminate the Turks, Iranians, and Saudis. Not much support for that, for some reason. At least not yet.

    Comment by BobtheRegisterredFool — 10/18/2018 @ 7:38 pm

  4. It’s not a new idea to think America shouldn’t impose its humanitarian concerns on the rest of the world. We’ve struggled with being isolationist vs promoting our values since our nation was born.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/19/2018 @ 11:30 am

  5. Well, the Saudis say Khashoggi is dead. They claim he was killed in a fight, and they claim they’ve fired some people, and are looking at prosecuting others.

    I don’t trust the Saudis any more than I trust the Turks, so at this point all this changes for me is that I now think the Saudis were involved in whatever occurred. If indeed Khashoggi was murdered, one of my suspicions would be a power play within the Saudi regime – a move to replace the crown prince. Or, it may have been the crown prince behind it, moving to silence Khashoggi, who was in a position to know some dirt (such as Saudi involvement in 9-11).

    There are still a lot of unanswered questions. One is, why did Khashoggi, who reportedly feared the Saudi regime, go to the Saudi consulate, apparently with an appointment? That makes no sense.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 10/19/2018 @ 5:51 pm

  6. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. One is, why did Khashoggi, who reportedly feared the Saudi regime, go to the Saudi consulate, apparently with an appointment? That makes no sense.

    To get papers he needed for his upcoming marriage.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/19/2018 @ 5:56 pm

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