And so it begins. Or at least according to Turkish media.
If you, like everybody on the planet, have been following the Jamal Khashoggi drama, you’re familiar with the suspects by now. The following visual is compiled from CCTV footage released last week by Turkish media and depicts the 15-man assassination team dispatched to Istanbul by Riyadh:
The “Air Force lieutenant” is 31-year-old Mashal Saad al-Bostani.
Or actually, was – he was Mashal Saad al-Bostani, past tense, because according to Yeni Şafak, he died in a “traffic accident” in Riyadh.
Details are obviously (and intentionally) sparse, but needless to say, his purported death is being described as “suspicious”.
The Daily Hürriyet has also suggested that Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi may be the next to perish under “suspicious” circumstances. According to widely reported accounts of the audio tape that Turkish intelligence says documents Khashoggi’s murder, al-Otaibi can be heard imploring al-Tubaigy to “Do this outside. You’re going to get me in trouble.” The reply from bin Salman’s assassins: “If you want to live, be quiet!”
On October 6, al-Otaibi actually took Reuters on a tour of the consulate, “opening cupboards, filing cabinets and wooden panels covering air conditioning units”, ostensibly to prove that Khashoggi’s severed limbs weren’t stashed away next to the plates, or filed away with some loose documents or crammed into the ducts.
On Tuesday, he left Turkey and returned to Saudi Arabia. When reports of his homecoming first crossed, we gently suggested that likely didn’t bode particularly well for the Consul General:
ahahah.. Saudi Consul General in Istanbul Flies to Saudi Arabia: CNNTurk
either he's getting the hell of of dodge, or else MbS is going to just go ahead and murder him too and say "see, I punished somebody. now let's forget this happened".
— Walter White (@heisenbergrpt) October 16, 2018
I hope you’ll forgive the dark humor now that Daily Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi has explicitly said that al-Otaibi might well be “the next execution”. The Crown Prince, Selvi said Thursday, “would do anything to get rid of evidence.”
I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that anyone on that 15-man mission is now concerned for their life given that Riyadh will likely do anything necessary to “prove” to the international community that their farcical “investigation” into the “rogue” killing of Khashoggi has produced results. Never mind the fact that murdering the people you sent to murder someone else only underscores the brutality of the regime in Riyadh.
Meanwhile, diplomatic decorum demands that foreign officials continue to pretend as though Khashoggi’s death is the first sign that bin Salman might not turn out to be the kind of benevolent ruler that everyone hoped when he replaced his cousin Muhammad bin Nayef as heir to the throne in June 2017.
“Who could have predicted ‘Mr. Reformer’ was a cold-blooded killer?”
I’ll tell you who could have predicted that: 50,000 Yemenis, that’s who.
Of course they’ll be forgiven for not sounding the alarm. They are, after all, dead.