“Indeed, it would appear Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, flight, or murder has become a matter most delicate, most intriguing, most opaque.”
Things we know.
Things we don’t know.
Things we don’t know we don’t know.
Things we don’t want to know.
Things we will never know.
Thing we know but don’t know that we know.
Things we don’t know but fervently believe.
Things we would like to find out.
One of the 15 suspects in the death of dissident Jamal Khashoggi dressed up in his clothes and was caught on surveillance cameras walking around Istanbul on the day Khashoggi went missing.
Footage being used as part of the Turkish government’s investigation into Khashoggi’s death was shared with CNN, and shows the man, identified as Mustafa al-Madani, leaving Saudi Arabia’s consulate through the back door wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, a fake beard, and glasses, a senior Turkish official told CNN.
Caralle, Katelyn. “After Jamal Khashoggi disappeared, a Saudi agent left the compound in his clothes.” Washington Examiner, October 22, 2018.
Were they really Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes?
Even so, what has happened to other potential evidence of murder?
Above all: where is the body?
A man in a foreign land leaves his fiancee (of another nationalist) parked by the curb, walks into his nation’s embassy to obtain a permit for marriage and fails to walk back out to drive off into the sunset with his presumed beloved.
Missing: the body.
Also missing: blood spatter; the odor of disinfectant; the appearance of discarded . . . anything: clothing; a table or parts of one involved in a murder; not even a shoelace, much less a pair of shoes, has been shown to the public.
Also for public notice: embassies are considered a part of the sovereign territory of the state represented: what have the Turks been doing (directly) in the Saudi’s building?
Everyone knows the answer to that question — one good reason for the invention of the “Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF)” within buildings intent on defending the most private and sensitive of conversations.
Erdogan called on the perpetrators to be brought to justice in Istanbul and questioned whether the Vienna Conventions, which give immunity to diplomatic staff, applied in this case.
It was the first time that any official in Turkey has publicly outlined the Turkish contention that Khashoggi was killed by a hit squad sent from Saudi Arabia. But while Erdogan had promised the “naked truth,” he offered few details beyond those revealed by Turkish officials speaking privately.
Tuysuz, Gul and Eliza Mackintosh. “Erdogan says Khashoggi was victime of ‘ferocious’ pre-planned murder.” CNN, October 23, 2018.
Perhaps when Jamal Khashoggi left his fiance waiting at the curb, he had cause for wanting to leave . . . everything — and become a new man.
Perhaps a body will turn up.
Perhaps we will hear a recording or be subject inferential visual data.
However, the public may be left with an impossible question: whose data — whose story — should it adopt as true?
Gall, Carlotta. “Security Images Show Khashoggi and Fiancee in His Final Hours.” The New York Times, October 22, 2018.
Perper, Rosie. “Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée wrote a touching tribute for him on Twitter hours after Saudi authorities confirmed his death.” Business Insider, October 21, 2018.
But officials are skeptical of Saudi’s explanation for the Khashoggi’s death. Turkish officials have repeatedly touted claims that Khashoggi was brutally tortured and dismembered by what appeared to be a 15-person kill squad flown in from Saudi Arabia.
Where are the bones? The clothes? The “body bag”? Was there a sink? A plastic or porcelain tub? Where are the clothes of the killers? Where was the fire and smoke needed to burn things that burn? Where are his shoelaces and their plastic tips (if of common construction)? No nails? No hair follicles?
O’Connor, Tom. “Saudi Arabia Fires Intelligence Officials, Blames Them for Khashoggi Death.” Newsweek, October 19, 2018.
After his transforming Turkey into a family enterprise, what motive has anyone from the post-Enlightenment west for believing the presentations of President Erdogan?
Where is the body?
Where, in fact, is the story?
BackChannels may suggest that the Saudi confession to murder should have been accompanied immediately by its evidence. Today, the lag in time between the confession and the turning up of evidence — so late as to make fabrication possible — may make the confession suspect.
The time may be running out for even the telling of an untimely untruth.
Indeed, it would appear Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, flight, or murder has become a matter most delicate, most intriguing, most opaque.
Haaretz. “Report: Saudi Journalist Khashoggi’s Remains Found.” October 23, 2018:
Multiple sources suggested Khashoggi had been cut up and his face “disfigured,” Sky News reported.
Sources in the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office denied that Khashoggi’s remains were found at the consul general’s home, adding that a picture on social media purportedly showing the corpse is fake.
Haaretz and Reuters. “Explained Turkey Takes Aim at MBS: What’s Driving Erdogan in the Khashoggi Scandal.” Haaretz, October 23, 2018.
BackChannels will try to stop at this point: where is the body? Is a body found really the body? If a man wished to leave his body, loosely speaking, would he also not leave behind his old clothes?
There is no way to address such questions from an armchair or by watching television.
That may not be the problem — so the man is dead or, perhaps, on his way to early skiing vacation in the Swiss Alps (never let it be said the editor of this blog has not been a foolish romantic); what is the problem is that “the public” — or respective national publics or statistical clumps of national or party identity — may lose its basis for believing anything from any source.
Update: October 24, 2018
Kobrin, Nancy Hartevelt. “Why the Saudis Had to Cut Up Khashoggi’s Body.” Clarion Project, October 24, 2018.
Gruesome, brazen and barbaric were some of the terms that were thrown around in response to learning his fingers were cut off first, then his head and finally his body was chopped into small pieces in order to “disappear” it from the crime scene.
Images of such a sadistic act were the linchpin in inciting the political debacle. Yet, since the remains of Khashoggi’s body had not been found yet, it also served to precipitate a war over who controlled the narrative. With this “memory” destroyed, who owned the truth?