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Jamal Khashoggi Is Very Much Alive and Well and In A Video By The Hill

Saudi journalist, Global Opinions columnist for the Washington Post, and former editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel Jamal Khashoggioffers remarks during POMED’s “Mohammed bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia: A Deeper Look”. March 21, 2018, Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED), Washington, DC. Photo by POMED, CC BY 2.0.

Introduction

American media outlets are reporting on the apparent disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national who allegedly disappeared from the country's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2, 2018 and has not been seen since. This post is a review of some of the direct evidence in this case.

Chronology

Friday, September 28, 2018

BBC reported: "He first visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 28 September to obtain a document certifying that he had divorced his ex-wife, so that he could marry his Turkish fiancée."

Later, on October 19, VICE News interviewed a friend of Khashoggi who said that the Turkish staff at the consulate was told to take several days off in advance of his return.

Saturday, September 29

One day after visiting the consulate, Khashoggi was speaking in England at "Oslo at 25: A Legacy of Broken Promises," an event sponsored by Middle East Monitor.  (Screenshot is from the video posted online at the event website.) The event ran from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. local time. 

Monday, October 1

BBC Interview: On the heels of his talk at the Middle East Monitor event, Khashoggi gave an interview to the BBC's NewsHour, which airs at 9:06 a.m. and 4:06 p.m. local time, about his thoughts on the Oslo Accords, the topic of his talk in London. 

Travel from UK to Turkey? It is not clear when Khashoggi traveled from the UK to Turkey after his Saturday talk. He may have gone right away and done the BBC interview remotely, or he may have left on October 1.


Logistically, it takes four hours at a minimum (sometimes as much as 30 hours) to travel from Turkey to the UK, and Turkey time is 2 hours later.

Add to that the necessity of arriving early for check-in and going through security on the way into the country, and one would imagine at least an eight hour trip if not more.

If Khashoggi was in the UK on October 1, he would not have had much time to catch a plane if his appointment in Turkey was at 1:30 p.m. the next day.

Tuesday, October 2

3:29 a.m.: A plane arrives in Turkey.
9:40 and 9:55 a.m.: Six men are "shown" leaving "a Turkish hotel," but there is no CCTV recording timestamp on either frame.
12:14 p.m.: Diplomatic vehicle or vehicles arrive at the consulate. They are sedans, not vans.

Important note regarding all closed camera television recording, at the consulate and elsewhere: It can be selective. As Dr. Majed Aleisa notes: "The leaked video images of Khashoggi entering the consulate is available but there are no ongoing raw video of the consulate door for a few hours. Which leads us to believe that we are only being shown CCTV footage of what supports their goal of setting up Saudi Arabia. We believe he has exited the consulate and he was abducted away from the consulate."

Here is another view of an arriving vehicle, a sedan.
1:14 p.m.: Khashoggi enters Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey a second time. Now a van is parked in front.

3:07 p.m.: "They then drive to the consul's residence about 200 meters away" (.12 mile, or just a couple of minutes) where the van goes into the garage. Despite the close distance, how could the same exact van depart the consulate a minute AFTER it arrived somewhere else?
3:08 p.m.: Van leaves consulate (15:08:18) somehow a minute AFTER it arrives at its destination. How is this scientifically possible?

On Twitter, Emre Uslu spotted this as well: "It seems that Saudies found the time machine. The balack van leaves the consulate at 15:08 but arrives the counslar's house at 15:07 :)) The distance between the two is aproximately 2 km which does not matter anyway. This is how pro-goverment media reports in Turkey" (sic)


On further review, the "time machine" issue is a pretty big laugh for other as well. Sultan S. Assiri writes"Believe it or not , Saudis used a time machine to travel fom the Consulate at 15:08 and to arrive at 15:07 i kept my snapshots as is to show the time this phenomena appears.. Another rumor busted in action about #Jamal_Khashoggi"


(Someone else notes that different CCTV machines may have the time set differently.)

5:33 p.m.: Surveillance camera shows fiance milling about the exterior of the consulate. 

(No timestamp): The Guardian reports that "some of the alleged Saudi team appear to leave their hotel for the airport."

Saturday, October 6

Per Reuters, two Turkish sources come forward with information. One states that Turkish police have preliminarily determined that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate and his body taken out: “The initial assessment of the Turkish police is that Mr Khashoggi has been killed at the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. We believe that the murder was premeditated and the body was subsequently moved out of the consulate."

Meanwhile, in the same article, Saudi Arabia reportedly completely denied the Turkish statement: "A Saudi source at the consulate denied that Khashoggi had been killed at the mission and said in a statement that the accusations were baseless....Saudi Arabia’s consul-general told Reuters earlier on Saturday that his country was helping search for Khashoggi, and dismissed talk of his possible abduction.

Friday, October 5

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Bloomberg: "My understanding is he entered and he got out after a few minutes or one hour. I’m not sure."

Sunday, October 7

Per Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia refutes the allegation that Khashoggi was killed in their consulate in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post demands answers from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States. This despite noting that there was no evidence of a crime, that Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi left the consulate on his own, and that Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's president, had not confirmed that any crime occurred either.

The Post further reported that "15 Saudi officials entered Istanbul, 'specifically for the murder,” according to sources quoted by The Post’s Kareem Fahim.' Yet security cameras only captured six.

The paper asserted definitively that "Mr. Khashoggi entered the consulate again last Tuesday and did not come out."

October 11

Al Arabiya posted an article by Emre Uslu detailing numerous other inconsistencies in the account, including selective posting of security camera footage

"Every inch of that street is recorded by cameras. Yet, Turkish intelligence footages shared with the media have not shown alleged Saudi team's movement from hotel to the consulate, why? They need to show this to make their claim convincing."


October 12

Twitter user @badrah2030 brought up Al Jazeera's first reporting on the matter, stating that Khashoggi indeed left the consulate after just 20 minutes: "This is the 1st tweet aljazeera wrote about #Jamal_Khashoggi , they said that he left  the consulate after 20 minutes and CAMERA DOESN'T LIE, I used this method of translation "word-for-word" to let you know what exactly is written about him."

This point is also brought up by Dr. Majid Aleisa in his October 18 analysis.

October 15, 2018

A detail in the narrative concerning Khashoggi's Apple Watch becomes an issue.

As CNBC notes, "A report from the pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah said journalist Jamal Khashoggi used an Apple Watch to record audio of his alleged killing by Saudis inside their consulate in Istanbul. The way the report described how Khashoggi recorded the audio is at odds with how the Apple Watch actually works. It would have been nearly impossible for Khashoggi to record audio and upload it to his iPhone or the internet, and it raises questions as to how Turkish officials obtained the audio and video evidence of the alleged killing."

October 17

The New York Times quoted "Turkish officials" to state that Khashoggi was cut up into little bits and pieces--without actually having any evidence to prove that this was true. "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."

This was widely reported as fact.


October 18

In "How to Spot a Fake Fiancée: The Khashoggi Case," Dr. Majed Aleisa (yes, Dr. Aleisa is a real person, whose Twitter account is suspended; you can find him on Gab at @MajedAleisa and @MEGuardians; Poynter and Buzzfeed call him fake news) pointed out a number of troubling inconsistencies in the narrative. (Note: The article was updated after Saudi Arabia took responsibility for the matter on October 19.)

To run through some of his key points:

"The picture circulated by news outlets CNN and The Washington Post of Hatice taking a selfie with Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi is not real. Hatice was inserted in the photo!"

Indeed, you can see in the photo that the picture of Khashoggi is identical to his Washington Post author profile picture. However, the backgrounds are different; the exterior of nature and the fiancee's face could easily have been edited in. Aleisa's article makes reference to some technical points, such as the way her image looked as though it had been expanded to match the size of his face. Aleisa also notes that his shirt is "saturated, and changed from an original color," among other things.

Aleisa suggests that "the fabrication of the photo was because of another tweet on October 8th in which we questioned the nonexistence of any photos of the two sitting by each other or in a private setting."
Also troubling, notes Aleisa, is the fact that Khashoggi apparently never told his son Abdullah about his supposed fiance. There is no engagement celebration to be found, no engagement ring, no photos of them alone and only one mention of her by him on Twitter (versus 10 times she mentioned him). Even more telling, the supposed fiance Tweets that she is planning a 60th birthday party for him when his own passport shows that this birthday had already passed by 10 months.


Other Twitter users called her out on that.

What troubled me, personally, the most on reading about the fiancee is that she posts about him on Twitter, but does not have any "couple photos" that I can find. She declined an invitation from President Trump. And in a case of circular logic, the New York Times states that Khashoggi has a fiancee, then sources the information to an article written by the fiancee.

October 19, 2018

Saudi Arabia releases a statement. Hassan Hassan, Senior Research Fellow, Program on Extremism at George Washington University, translates: “discussions that took place between citizen Jamal Khashoggi & the persons who met him during his presence at the consulate in Istanbul led to a fight & quarrel by hands, which caused his death.”



More specifically, reported Bloomberg, "Khashoggi died after he was placed in a choke hold, a person with knowledge of the Saudi probe said." To discipline those involved and investigate further, reported the news outlet, "King Salman removed a top adviser...and prosecutors detained 18 people involved in the case."

The Huffington Post acknowledges how unsatisfying and hard to believe this statement is: "Intelligence gathered by the U.S. and allies ― in addition to clues pointing directly to the regime ― make it unlikely the statement will fully quell worldwide outrage over the kingdom’s treatment of Khashoggi and questions about whether the West is complicit in massive human rights violations. Saudi Arabia and its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, have faced a spiraling international crisis over the apparent murder."

October 20, 2018

After Saudi Arabia appeared to admit its responsibility for the murder, Bloomberg reported that some of its citizens were "shocked" and angry: “A very sad day for this nation, to see what the country had descended into,” said one Saudi man, who spoke on condition of anonymity to criticize a government that tolerates virtually no dissent. “No country is perfect, but used to be proud that the country had a certain morality that aligned with Arabian values. We lost that forever unfortunately.”

October 21, 2018

Could this man be Khashoggi? It appears to be him, in a video posted to Twitter on October 12, 2018 by The Hill.  He enters the frame at 8 seconds and appears to be rushing somewhere, perhaps trying to avoid the cameras. His beard appears dyed. (This information was posted on October 17 by Brenden Dilley.) 



Political Impact

On October 17, Vanity Fair intimated that there was some sort of payoff involved as the United States received a $100 million payment from Saudi Arabia while President Trump defended the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. 

On October 19, Democratic member of Congress Rep. Joaquin Castro suggested to CNN, without any evidence, that Jared Kushner may have planned the hit

An Unsatisfying Conclusion

Instead of trying to resolve this by quieting it down, I think the United States should get to the bottom of it. Lying is only going to unfairly smear Saudi Arabia, and that in the long run will make things worse.

Senator Lindsey Graham stated on October 19: “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement."

President Trump put it more bluntly on October 20: "Obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”
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Copyright 2018 by Dr. Dannielle (Dossy) Blumenthal. All opinions are Dr. Blumenthal's own. This post is hereby released into the public domain.