Khashoggi Disappearance

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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:15 pm

.

Hmmmmm... something I wrote after the 2016 election and a comment now:

JackRiddler » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:30 am wrote:
...what war has Trump promised?

"He will cut the head off ISIS and TAKE THEIR OIL."

The take-their-oil war. Repeated statements and presented as campaign platform (see that ad if you still have not). In clarifying, he made clear he would have kept "a group" in Iraq [AFTER THE BUSH INVASION] to secure their oil fields.

Otherwise constant talk about American weakness and need to massively increase military. [ACCOMPLISHED, MORE SO] And now he's appointed neocons to the command portfolios so rabid that they had been kept at arm's length even by the Bush crew. [CHECK, MORE SO]

I'd also characterize his promises to round up and deport millions, build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it as forms of war. [ON TRACK TO WARLIKE ESCALATIONS]

Overturning the Iran deal (through findings that they are not complying, new provocations, etc. etc.) would be a big step. [DID IT]

And the shift on China has all kinds of idiot risks (the Taiwan call, South China Sea, etc.). [DEVELOPING]

It matters that his style is constantly about bullying the weak, finding enemies, and expressing things in violent and brutal terms. Those who defend him for "straight talk" may come to appreciate the braking effects of "liberal hypocrisy." Or not.

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If the MbS regime unravels in the wake of the Kasshoggi affair I could see US troops "securing the oil" there. Even being invited in by the new royal heir-designate or strongman-general or democratic reformer. At which point, necessarily, declaration of domestic CODEORANGE-PLUS.

.
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:21 pm

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Just leaving this here. Photos at site. Do note the teaser link to another article, which I highlighted. Well, is it? Will "we" need to take it over?


www.middleeasteye.net
https://www.middleeasteye.net/tiger-squ ... shoggi-mbs


REVEALED: The Saudi death squad MBS uses to silence dissent
Jamal Khashoggi fell victim to its assassins. He wasn't the first.



In new revelations, a Saudi source with intimate knowledge of his country's intelligence services told Middle East Eye about a death squad that operates under the guidance and supervision of Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.

The Firqat el-Nemr, or Tiger Squad, is well-known to the US intelligence services. It was formed more than a year ago and is comprised of 50 of the best-skilled intelligence and military operatives in the kingdom.

The group was recruited from different branches of the Saudi security services, channelling several areas of expertise. Its members are unflinchingly loyal to Riyadh's young crown prince, commonly known as MBS.

MEE can exclusively reveal details about the Tiger Squad, after speaking to a very well-placed source. The source detailed to MEE the squad's makeup, targets, actions and personnel.

Although MEE was not able to confirm the information disclosed, the source was independently verified.

The Tiger Squad's mission is to covertly assassinate Saudi dissidents, inside the kingdom and on foreign soil, in a way that goes unnoticed by the media, the international community and politicians, the source said.

"They [the Saudi leadership] have the belief that arresting critics will mount pressure on them, so that's why they started assassinating them quietly," the source said.

The Tiger Squad's members are drawn from the military and intelligence services.

The Tiger Squad's assassination methods vary.

Sometimes it gets its hands dirty, such as with Khashoggi, who was tortured, murdered and dismembered by the Tiger Squad in Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

But the unit also plans assassinations that keep the victim at arm's length, and are intended to appear as accidents, such as a car crash or housefire. The Tiger Squad has even had a dissident injected with deadly viruses as he visited hospital for a routine checkup, the source said.

The squad was named after Major General Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy chief of Saudi intelligence, who was sacked by Riyadh last week after heavy international pressure on Saudi Arabia to take action over Khashoggi's killing.

"Assiri is well-known among his colleagues as 'the Tiger of the South'. Since the coalition's war [on Yemen] the Saudi media also started calling Assiri 'the Beast', and he liked this nickname," the source said.

Ties to the crown prince

The source denied knowledge of who issues commands to the Tiger Squad, but said that Assiri and Saoud al-Qahtani, one of MBS's closest aides who was also dismissed last week, is part of the command structure.

The young crown prince selected five of his most loyal and trustworthy members of his personal security detail to serve in the Tiger Squad, the source said.

All of them are among the 15 men sent to kill Khashoggi, including Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, Mohammed al-Zahrani and Dhaar al-Harbi, the source said.

Mutrib is a diplomat and major general who has been seen travelling with MBS earlier this year on tours of Boston, Houston and the United Nations in New York.

He was described by the source as "the spinal cord of the Tiger Squad". "He was chosen by MBS himself, who depends on him and is close to him," the source said.

READ MORE►
Is Saudi Arabia safe in Mohammed bin Salman's hands?


"The crown prince selected his close details in the squad in order for him to stay in direct contact with it and supervise the assassinations."

The source told MEE that Turkey intercepted 14 of Mutrib's phone calls on 2 October, the day of Khashoggi's death. Seven of them were to the office of the crown prince.

The source did not make it clear if Mutrib's calls were related to Khashoggi's killing but said that, if leaked, these calls would be "explosive".

According to the source, Mutrib and three others injected Khashoggi with a deadly drug, before dismembering his body on a table inside the consulate.

MEE understands that morphine is the drug the source mentioned. Turkish invesitgators have told MEE that Khashoggi was dismembered on a desk in the Saudi consul-general's study.

Mutrib's alleged calls to MBS's office were also reported on Monday by the newspaper Yeni Safak, which like other Turkish media outlets close to the government has been leaked details of the Khashoggi investigation day by day.

According to Yeni Safak, Mutrib spoke to Badr al-Asaker, head of the crown prince's private office, four times after Khashoggi was killed.

'Kill them with HIV'
One of the first covert operations the Tiger Squad carried out within Saudi borders was the killing of Prince Mansour bin Moqren, deputy governor of Asir province and son of a former crown prince, in November last year.

Prince Mansour, a known opponent of MBS, died when his helicopter crashed near the Saudi border with Yemen. MEE reported at the time that the prince was trying to flee the country, and died a few hours after a sweeping purge of the kingdom's upper ranks was launched on 4 November.

Dozens of princes, ministers and a billionaire tycoon were swept up by authorities and detained in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, and authorities placed a travel ban on all private aircraft.

According to the source, Meshal Saad al-Bostani, a Tiger Squad operative and one of the 15 Saudis suspected of Khashoggi's murder, was behind Prince Mansour's death.

"Bostani is a lieutenant in the Saudi Royal Air Force, and he shot down Mansour's helicopter with a missile from another helicopter," the source said. "But they made it seems like a natural death."

Bostani, 31, was reportedly killed on 18 October in a car accident in Riyadh.

"It's a lie. He was locked in a prison and his food was poisoned," the source said. "Bostani holds the secret of the deputy governor of Asir's killing, as well as Khashoggi's."

Bostani captured by Turkish cameras, left, and before his reported death, right (Screengrab)

Another internal covert operation run by the Tiger Squad was the murder of the Mecca public court's president, judge and sheikh Suliman Abdul Rahman al Thuniyan, in a hospital in Riyadh on 1 October.

"I believe he was killed by deadly viruses being injected into his body during a normal medical checkup. The squad knew he had an appointment in the hospital, and made it appear a natural death," the source said.

"The judge [Thuniyan] had sent a letter to MBS opposing his 2030 economic vision."

He added that one of the techniques the Tiger Squad uses to silence dissidents or opponents of the government is to "kill them with HIV, or other sorts of deadly viruses".

MBS always said that he will cut off the fingers of every writer who criticises him
- Saudi source

MEE could not confirm what sort of illness was the cause of Thuniyan's death. As far as the source was aware, Khashoggi's murder was the first assassination the Tiger Squad had carried out in a foreign country. However, it was not the death squad's first attempt, the source said.

"I know of another attempt, which was to lure Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz in Canada to the consulate and kill him," the source said. "But Abdulaziz refused to go and the mission failed. Khashoggi was the first [successful] operation." Separate reports have described how Abdulaziz was targeted by the Saudis using Israeli spyware software.

As proof of the Khashoggi mission's success, the source said, members of the Tiger Squad brought the Washington Post columnist's fingers back to Riyadh. They were presented to the young heir to the Saudi throne.

"MBS always said that he will cut off the fingers of every writer who criticises him," the source said.
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:53 pm

JackRiddler » Mon Oct 22, 2018 9:21 pm wrote:

"I know of another attempt, which was to lure Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz in Canada to the consulate and kill him," the source said. "But Abdulaziz refused to go and the mission failed. Khashoggi was the first [successful] operation." Separate reports have described how Abdulaziz was targeted by the Saudis using Israeli spyware software.

As proof of the Khashoggi mission's success, the source said, members of the Tiger Squad brought the Washington Post columnist's fingers back to Riyadh. They were presented to the young heir to the Saudi throne.

"MBS always said that he will cut off the fingers of every writer who criticises him," the source said.


Israel Cyberspy Industry Help Dictators Hunt Dissidents/Gays
Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:25 pm
......
The UAE is not alone. Earlier this month, Citizen Lab announced with “high confidence” that Pegasus spyware was used to track Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi dissident living in Canada under political asylum. According to the organization’s report, agents of the regime in Riyadh used NSO technology in Montreal against Abdulaziz. NSO did not deny the report.

.......

viewtopic.php?f=52&t=41371
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:24 am

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Developing:

Erdogan speaking to his parliament accuses Saudi state directly of murder, demands extradition of the suspects. (Does not mention videotapes or other direct records of the crime.)

Front page for the Saudi "Davos in the Desert" site was hacked:

Image

#Terrorism_Financing

I searched the hashtag, this video comes up on first page of Google results, was uploaded yesterday, currently has 16 views, and sure looks like where the hastag was intended to lead:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWBEiuwwL8M

BREAKING Reports that body parts found in garden of the Saudi consul's house (?!)

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New line developing that realism requires tolerance of MbS.

Haaretz: "For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived."
https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premiu ... -1.6576593

Jonah Goldberg (charming author of "Liberal Fascism") in LA Times: "One of the more cynical talking points among those calling for new leadership in Saudi Arabia is the idea that reformers in backward authoritarian nations don’t do terrible things."
http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la ... story.html

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Last edited by JackRiddler on Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:20 am

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

Khashoggi’s son, who is banned from leaving Saudi Arabia, had to endure this photo opp with the King of Saudi, and his son, Crown Prince MBS.

Image

https://twitter.com/ASE
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Tue Oct 23, 2018 2:39 pm

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There never was a Russiagate. It was always about the Middle East.

www.counterpunch.org

The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall

by Patrick Cockburn

23 October 2018

The Middle East has a century old tradition of being the political graveyard of American and British political leaders. The list of casualties is long: Lloyd George, Anthony Eden, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Tony Blair and George W Bush. All saw their careers ended or their authority crippled by failure in the region.

Will the same thing happen to Donald Trump as he struggles with the consequences of the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi? I always suspected that Trump might come unstuck because of his exaggerated reliance on a weak state like Saudi Arabia rather than because of his supposed links to Russia and Vladimir Putin. Contrary to the PR company boosterism of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and his ambitious projects, Saudi Arabia has oil and money, but is demonstrably ineffective as an independent operator.

The Middle East disasters that toppled so many Western leaders have a certain amount in common. In all cases, the strength of enemies and the feebleness of friends was miscalculated. Lloyd George was forced to resign as prime minister in 1922 because he encouraged the doomed Greek invasion of Anatolia which almost led to a renewed Turkish-British war.

George W Bush and Tony Blair never understood that the occupation of Iraq by American and British ground forces had no support inside Iraq or among its neighbours and was therefore bound to fail. A British military intelligence officer stationed in Basra told me that he could not persuade his superiors of the potentially disastrous fact that “we have no real allies anywhere in Iraq”.

The political debacle most similar to Trump’s ill-judged reliance on the Crown Prince and Saudi Arabia over the last three years was American policy towards the Shah and Iran in the years leading up to his overthrow in 1979. US humiliation was rubbed in when its diplomats were taken hostages in Tehran which torpedoed Carter’s hope of a second term in the White House.

There are striking and instructive parallels between US and British policy towards Iran in the lead up to the revolution and towards Saudi Arabia in 2015-18. In both periods, there was a self-destructive belief that an increasingly unstable hereditary monarchy was a safe bet as a regional ally as well as being a vastly profitable market for arms.

The Shah and MBS both promoted themselves as reformers, justifying their authoritarianism as necessary to drag their countries into the modern era. Foreign elites fawned on them, ignored their weaknesses, and were fixated by the mirage of fabulous profits. A British ambassador to Iran in the 1970s was said – I quote from memory – to have rebuked his embassy staff with the words: “I don’t want any more elegantly written reports about social conditions in Iranian villages. What I want is exports, exports, exports!”

Brexit has taken Britain off the world stage and it must be happy in future with whatever crumbs it can scrounge in Saudi Arabia or anywhere else. But Trump sounds very much like this long-forgotten ambassador when he justifies the US strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia by referring repeatedly to a $110bn in arms contract.

In practice, hereditary monarchies are at their most unstable during a leadership transition, attempts to reform, efforts to expand as regional powers or as initiators of war. In England, the pacific and cautious King James I was succeeded by his arrogant, arbitrary and incautious son, King Charles I, with unfortunate consequences for the monarchy.

Vulgar display was a feature of the Shah’s Iran 40 years ago as it is of Saudi Arabia today. In his case, there was the celebration of 2,500 years of the Persian Empire at Persepolis in 1971, which fed the ruling elites of the world with exotic delicacies such as 50 roast peacocks with tail feathers restored and stuffed with foie gras along quail eggs filled with caviar, which the Shah could not eat because he was allergic to caviar.

The Saudi equivalent to Persepolis is the much-publicised “Davos in the Desert” or, more prosaically, the “Future Investment Initiative” being held this week in Riyadh and from which politicians and businessmen have been very publicly dropping out as mystery over the disappearance of Khashoggi has deepened. Much of the media is treating their decision to stay at home as some sort of moral choice and never asks why these luminaries were happy to act as cheerleaders for Saudi Arabia in the same time the UN was warning that 13 million Yemenis are on the verge of starvation because of the Saudi-led military intervention.

It is no excuse for the Trump administration or the defecting guests in Riyadh to claim that they did not know about Saudi Arabia’s potential for random violence. As long ago as 2 December 2015, the German federal intelligence agency, the BND, published a memo predicting that “the current cautious diplomatic stance of senior members of the Saudi royal family will be replaced by an impulsive intervention policy.” It went on to say that the concentration of so much power in the hands of Prince Mohammed bin Salman “harbours a latent risk that …he may overreach.”

Support free-thinking journalism and subscribe to Independent MindsThe memo was hurriedly withdrawn at the insistence of the German foreign ministry, but today it sounds prophetic about the direction in which Saudi Arabia was travelling and the dangers likely to ensue.

Trump has put a little more distance between himself and the Crown Prince in the past few days, but he makes no secret of his hope that the crisis in relations with Saudi Arabia will go away. “This one has caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately,” he says though he may believe he can shrug off this affair as he has done with so many other scandals.

Just for once, Trump’s highly developed survival instincts may be at fault. His close alliance with Saudi Arabia and escalating confrontation with Iran is the most radical new departure in Trump’s foreign policy. He withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in defiance of the rest of the world earlier this year on the grounds that he can extract more concessions from Iran by using American power alone than Barack Obama ever did by working in concert with other states. This struggle is so important because it is not just between the US and Iran but is the crucial test case of Trump’s version of American nationalism in action.

The White House evidently calculates that if it draws out the crisis by systematic delaying tactics, it will eventually disappear from the top of the news agenda. This is not a stupid strategy, but it may not work in present circumstances because the Saudi authorities are too inept – some would say too guilty – to produce a plausible cover story. The mystery of Khashoggi’s disappearance is too compelling for the media to abandon and give up the the chase for the culprits.

Above all, the anti-Trump portion of the US media and the Democrats smell political blood and sense that the Khashoggi affair is doing the sort of serious damage to the Trump presidency that never really happened with the Russian probe.


I don't want to call this "Saudigate" since it is not simply centered there. But if that name arises and helps bring this crew down, okay.

Oh, look who's here, it's Cambridge Analytica, the Trolling-for-Trump operation that actually sort of mattered.

“We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler.”


Cambridge Analytica’s Parent Company Helped Shape Saudi Arabia’s Reform Movement

By Danny Hakim
May 31, 2018

18
The price of oil was in free fall and a youthful population restive.

So the government of Saudi Arabia turned in recent years to the parent company of the political data firm Cambridge Analytica for help, according to Western consultants who worked in the kingdom, company executives and a review of public documents.

The work by Cambridge’s parent, a secretive defense and intelligence contractor called SCL Group, presaged the tumultuous changes that are reshaping the kingdom. The company, now mired in scandals related to its corporate practices and the use of Facebook user data, conducted a detailed population study. It provided a psychological road map of the kingdom’s citizenry and its sentiment toward the royal family, even testing potential reform steps as they charted a path forward to preserve stability.

The consultants and executives spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were bound by nondisclosure agreements.

One proposal tested by the company was lifting a 35-year ban on cinemas in the kingdom, an action that was subsequently taken in December. Another was allowing women to drive, a move that was made last September.

Under King Salman, who came to power in January 2015, the Saudis have turned to an array of consultants as crashing oil prices laid bare the kingdom’s lack of economic diversification. Some consultants, such as McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group, carried blue chip pedigrees, while SCL, founded in 1993 as Strategic Communication Laboratories, was known for its clandestine work.

The company has recently burst into the public eye amid revelations that it employed seduction and bribery to entrap politicians and influence foreign elections. And its Cambridge Analytica unit, which worked for President Trump’s campaign, collapsed amid allegations of misusing Facebook data. At least one Cambridge Analytica employee worked on the parent company’s Saudi project, according to the employee’s profile on LinkedIn.

SCL has a long history of quietly helping governments control their populace and wield power. Last year, it was hired by the government of the United Arab Emirates, a close Saudi ally, to conduct a social media campaign against its rival Qatar. In Indonesia, SCL once “organized avenues of protests” as a means of controlling student demonstrations, according to one news report, and arranged for the government to covertly fund a conference on journalistic independence, according to another. It has also provided psychological analyses of citizenry in places like Libya after the fall of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The company’s longtime chief executive, Nigel Oakes, has described its overall strategy as “group communication” that aims to shift the views of large swaths of a population. “We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler,” he once said. “We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level.”

The notion that the company’s psychological research played a role in plotting out the Saudi reform efforts could fuel renewed debate about the intentions of the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The prince is variously seen as his region’s most important social and economic reformer, a ruthless opportunist or some combination of the two.

Image
Saudi Arabia announced last September that it would allow women to drive, ending a longstanding policy.CreditFayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
He has spearheaded the reform effort, and is reshaping the power dynamic in the kingdom and the entire region. But his nobler pretensions have been muted by his outsize spending habits, as well as a roundup of billionaires, princes and other officials tied to previous governments. The government is said to have used coercion and physical abuse to seize billions of dollars from the detainees, who were initially held at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh.

The prince’s motives were again called into question two weeks ago, when Saudi authorities detained activists who had pushed for the right for women to drive, even though the kingdom gave in to the campaign.

SCL’s work was shrouded in secrecy, but one former analyst at the company, James Lovell, who listed the Saudi project on his LinkedIn profile, said he “analysed focus group data, contributed to presentations and wrote reports for a research project on economic reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” A project manager at Cambridge Analytica, Alexandra Wicksell, wrote in her profile on the same site that the work was “focused on developing the national reform initiative for the country’s drive to diversify its economy away from its oil dependency.”

Others who saw the work described it less benignly.

One Western consultant, who was not involved in the project but who viewed SCL’s report, referred to the firm’s finding as “Machiavellian,” calling it a manual for the royals to manage popular sentiment by figuring out where they should loosen their grip. The consultant said the report used dozens of focus groups to examine levels of frustration and satisfaction, as well as the legitimacy of the royal family and the political structure, and showed there was widespread discontent.

The consultant’s account was consistent with that of a former employee at SCL. The company’s work, said the former employee, was aimed at conducting a behavioral analysis of the population and then creating strategies to keep the government viable in an era of declining oil prices.

A company executive referred to the work as advancing human rights but declined to comment further. The Saudi government declined to comment.

The research by the consultancy was taking place against a bleak new reality. Oil fell to below $30 a barrel in 2016 from more than $100 in 2014. That presented severe economic risks in a country where 70 percent of the population is under 30.

SCL’s work was circulated among some of the consulting firms developing a plan called Vision 2030, spearheaded by Prince Mohammed, which aims to move the kingdom beyond oil and modernize its culture.

SCL had worked in Saudi Arabia before. It was listed among the countries where the firm had clients on a 2014 PowerPoint presentation obtained by The New York Times. Its most recent work was commissioned by the Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning, one of the ministries carrying out the Vision 2030 plan.

To what extent the company influenced the kingdom’s plans is hard to say. But in Prince Mohammed’s telling, winning over the population has been a critical first step.

“There’s a lot of challenge,” he said in a recent interview on “60 Minutes,” in which he acknowledged that the nation’s practice of “subsidizing everybody’s life” had put it on a path toward financial crisis. “I think the first big challenge that we have is — do the people believe in what we are doing?”

Correction: May 31, 2018
An earlier version of this article misstated when SCL Group conducted a project in Libya. It was after Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was no longer in power, not during his tenure.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/31/busi ... rabia.html

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The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby Elvis » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:48 pm

According to Sky News:

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi journalist's body parts found, say Sky sources

Reports the writer's "cut up" remains were found in the garden of the Saudi consul's house, are "deeply disturbing", says No 10.


By Alex Crawford, special correspondent, in Istanbul
22:57, UK, Tuesday 23 October 2018


Body parts belonging to murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi have been found, according to two Sky sources.

The sources have told Sky News the Saudi dissident had been "cut up" and his face "disfigured".

One source also suggested the writer's remains were discovered in the garden of the Saudi consul general's Istanbul home - located around 500 metres away from the consulate.

It contradicts the explanation being made by Saudi officials that the body was rolled up in a carpet and handed to a local collaborator who was tasked with disposing of the evidence.

Theresa May's spokesman said reports of Mr Khashoggi's body parts being found were "deeply disturbing".

"The location of Mr Khashoggi's body is just one of the questions we need answers to and as such we await the full results of the Turkish investigation," he said.

In a day of fast-moving developments in the case:

- Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Mr Khashoggi's killing a premeditated "murder"

- Mr Erdogan demanded Saudi officials reveal the whereabouts of Mr Khashoggi's body

- The dissident's son met Saudi ruler, King Salman and crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, in Riyadh

- Turkish media said Mr Khashoggi's belongings were found in suitcases in a Saudi consulate car

- Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "deeply concerned" to hear Mr Erdogan call it a premeditated murder

- The widow of ex-Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko called the death a wake-up call about authoritarian states

- Mr Trump called it the "worst cover-up ever" as the US revoked visas of 21 Saudi nationals

In a speech to the country's parliament, Turkey's president Erdogan demanded Saudi Arabia hold those responsible to account and asked: "Why has the body of someone who was officially said to be killed not been found yet?"

He did not mention an alleged audio recording that Turkish authorities claim to have of Mr Khashoggi's death that supposedly confirms he was tortured, killed, had his fingers cut off and was dismembered.

https://news.sky.com/story/sky-sources- ... d-11533202


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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby American Dream » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:18 am

The Imperialist Manoeuvring Behind the Khashoggi Affair

Why did Jamal Khashoggi die?

This morning, Turkish forensics combed a forest on the outskirts of Istanbul looking for the remains of Jamal Khashoggi. Only three weeks ago no Western journalist who was not part of the exclusive world of Washington power could recognize his name. Jamal Khashoggi was one of those characters riding diplomacy, business interests, intelligence and the Saudi media apparatus. Collaborating as an occasional columnist in the Washington Post gave him an excuse to access corridors, offices and events as a "journalist". There was a basis for this, in Arabia he had been general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab, a 24hr news channel and editor of Al Watan. As in all the great families of the region, beginning with the Saud that give name to the country, business, politics, religion and the media, they were woven into a single skein of interests that linked national capital and family/clan interests. This was nothing unusual under the Arabian Peninsula’s particular form of state capitalism.

Jamal was a grandson of none other than Muhammad Khashoggi, the personal doctor of King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, the first head of state in Saudi Arabia. The Khashoggis came from Cappadocia, Turkey, and were part of the local elite drawn by the sultanate to all corners of the Ottoman Empire. Recognized Turkophiles, their businesses always played on the network between the old Turkish provinces – from Sudan to Central Asia – Washington and London. Remember too that his uncle Adnan Khashoggi, once known as the largest arms dealer in the world, created a global network that involved much of the Western political class and the secret services of half the planet. His cousin was Dodi Al Fayed with long-held interests in Alexandria, whose investments in London led to a certain fame and, according to what the intelligence gossip said at the time, to an eventful end with Diana, Princess of Wales. In short, Jamal Khashoggi was far from being "a journalist" as has been discreetly claimed by the media. Jamal Khashoggi was one of the heads of a powerful clan that was born in the very origins of the Saudi state and built on its historical bond with Turkey and non-Wahhabi political Islam.

The rise of Erdogan and his reinvention of the "political Islam" that includes an alliance with the "Muslim brothers" aroused a great deal of sympathy in a family that had been doing business with them for decades and this was reflected in their media bastion. No surprise then that the ascension to the throne of Prince Salman in a growing war against Iran, led Jamal to an increasingly lively confrontation with the Crown Prince. The accusations against the young heir of "losing the North" and abandoning "political Islam" by allying with Egypt, the Emirates and Israel instead of Turkey and Qatar in the new regional imperialist map, led Jamal to abandon Saudi Arabia the end of 2017 and take refuge in ... Turkey.

Turkish Revenge

Turkey, after suffering the real economic warfare of the US, decided to give in to Trump's original demand and free a prosecuted Protestant pastor. It was in a moment of weakness, hemmed in Idlib by Russia, humiliated by Trump and the economy shattered. And in the middle of all this, on October 2, Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to arrange the papers for his new marriage. He would be cut into pieces. Turkey denounced his disappearance from the very first. It led the expressions of "global indignation" and “managed” the information it had, from the video cameras of his entrance to the audio recordings of the torture and now finally, its forensic analysis.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Trump and the Saudis was deteriorating. The US needed an increase in oil production from Saudi Arabia so that its strategy of strangulation of Iran would work. But Salman needed money to finance his very rapid imperialist expansion which, according to the IMF, was unsustainable with low prices.

Trump, emboldened by Turkish humiliation, exploded before the Arab prince, declaring that the Saud would not last on the throne "two weeks" without their support. Erdogan had a sore on which to press. The management with account drops of information about the fate of Khashoggi served him to dismantle one by one the media responses filtered by the Saud.

Salman's response to the threat of American sanctions if the murder was proven was to threaten reprisals. For the first time, the relationship between the US and the Saudis threatened to break up. The stock exchange of Riyadh lost in hours what it had gained in a year. Luckily Erdogan was there to "help", by going behind Prince Salman and talking directly to his father. The road was marked for Trump. Mike Pompeo traveled to Ankara to garner more Turkish information before his President had to contradict himself yet again. In return Erdogan, obtained the withdrawal of some American sanctions and funds "under investigation". "The Saudis are too important as business partners," Trump said.

Now that Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbours can openly express their fear of Mohammed bin Salman, Erdogan can appear as his counterweight. Kuwait signed a treaty of military cooperation with Turkey and the media now wonders if Salman will now succeed to the throne while analysts around the world have declared the Crown Prince "unreliable". The revenge of the Turks and Qataris is complete. With Salman weakened, perhaps removed from the throne, they were able to use Trump’s malleable nature through their ability to create global news; not only through Aljazeera and Hurriyet but also by unleashing all the media in which they participate, directly or indirectly, in Europe, such as PRISA. This explains why few hear of the eight million people facing famine in Yemen as a result of the Saudi-Emirati bombings and military blockade and thousands of families try to flee in small boats to Africa, yet a single dead individual, a supposed "journalist", shakes the world’s ruling classes. All of them are part of the war in Yemen, and the culprit is imperialism as a whole, everyone's, from Iran to the US. A murdered individual though has, in the end, only one culprit and this allows "global indignation" to be “managed”.


More: https://libcom.org/blog/imperialist-man ... r-22102018
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby Grizzly » Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:12 pm

Anyone remember this from, almost a year ago?
[b]Loud explosions heard in Riyadh, missile intercepted[/b]

https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/873oto/loud_explosions_heard_in_riyadh_missile/
If Barthes can forgive me, “What the public wants is the image of passion Justice, not passion Justice itself.”
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Wed Oct 24, 2018 10:25 pm

.

Next on the Saudi Kill List?

Israa al-Ghomgham

Image

It's untrue that Western corporate media never covered the outrages and atrocities of the Saudi "kingdom" but it's a good guess that her story is getting attention from CBS because of the Kashoggi affair.

Her next court date -- only the second since 2015! -- is on October 28.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/saudi-arabia-israa-al-ghomgham-specialized-criminal-court-possible-execution/

Last Updated Oct 23, 2018 11:08 AM EDT

LONDON -- Israa al-Ghomgham, reportedly the first female human rights activist to face a possible death penalty for non-violent protest in Saudi Arabia, is due to appear in the country's secretive anti-terrorism court on October 28.

Saudi Arabia's crackdown on dissent is attracting fresh attention following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and rights groups are worried about al-Ghomgham's fate resting with the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), which has a history of unfair trials resulting in death sentences.

The SCC was created in 2008 to hear cases against people accused of terrorism. Many of the first people to be accused and tried by the court were alleged al Qaeda operatives involved in attacks in the kingdom.

Around 2010, however, the government started using the court to try protesters and, eventually, human rights advocates, international human rights lawyer Oliver Windridge tells CBS News.

"The definitions that are used for 'terrorism' in Saudi Arabia are broad -- some would say extremely broad, to the point of… allowing almost any kind of action to be defined as terrorism," Windridge says.

Accusations against Israa al-Ghomgham

Al-Ghomgham has been in detention since 2015, when she was arrested for non-violent activism. She has reportedly appeared in court once since then, when the charges against her were presented. The United Nations says she has been denied access to a lawyer.

According to official court documents obtained by CBS News, al-Ghomgham is facing multiple charges which include:

Participating in marches meant to "incite strife;"
"Providing moral support to rioters" by attending a protester's funeral;
Using a false identity to create a Facebook profile;
Traveling to Iran to "receive theoretical lessons on how to stir strife and disturbance in Saudi Arabia."

Inside the "Specialized Criminal Court"

Windridge reviewed a 2014 judgment by the SCC to assess the court's compliance with Saudi Arabia's international human rights commitments.

The kingdom is party to a number of human rights regulations, including the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Arab Charter on Human Rights. Also, as a member of the United Nations, Saudi Arabia is "generally obligated" to respect the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Windridge says.

The 2014 case Windridge reviewed involved three male activists, one of whom, Mohamed al-Shioukh, was held for nearly two years in pre-trial detention without access to legal representation.

Al-Shioukh said that he was subjected to interrogation techniques including beatings, electric shock and sleep deprivation, according to the judgement Windridge examined. Those techniques would amount to torture, which is banned under international law, and all allegations of torture must be investigated. The SCC not only failed to investigate al-Shioukh's allegations, Windridge says it used a confession gained as a result of the interrogations as the sole evidence to convict him and sentence him to death.

"The Special Criminal Court has implemented the death penalty where there have been what appear to be clear violations of international law, which in and of itself is another breach of international law," Windridge tells CBS News.

Al-Shioukh's case is just one example of many. A student named Mojtaba Nader Abdullah Suwaiket was arrested in 2012 in relation to pro-democracy protests. According to information given to the United Nations, he was never told why he was arrested or given access to a lawyer, and was routinely subjected to torture, including being suspended from his hands and feet, beaten, and burned with cigarettes. He finally confessed to armed disobedience against the king and attacking and injuring security forces and civilians, and was convicted by the SCC and sentenced to death by crucifixion.

Crown prince of reform, or "a dictator"?

A report published by the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier this year concluded that Saudi Arabia was misusing its counterterrorism laws to stifle freedom of expression and political dissent in the kingdom.

"Far from a gradual modernisation and improvement of the human rights situation that the government is keen to portray internationally, the true picture seems to be that Saudi Arabia is backsliding into ever more severe political repression," says the report.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has presented himself internationally as a modernizer, shepherding a number of high-profile reforms in the kingdom including giving women the right to drive. But MBS, as the crown prince is commonly known, has also been accused of cracking down on dissent. Many of the women activists who campaigned for greater rights, including the right to drive, have been jailed under his leadership.

Bin Salman "is a dictator. More than anyone before," Saudi human rights activist Yahya Assiri told CBS News. Assiri left Saudi Arabia for Britain in 2014, from where he runs ALQST, an activist group that still operates inside the kingdom.

"Our reformers, our colleagues, our friends, they are behind bars. Their lives are at risk right now. Whoever killed Jamal in the Saudi consulate, they could kill anyone behind bars," Assiri says.

Hope and fear over Israa's fate

Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Director of Campaigns, says it is still unclear whether al-Ghomgham's scheduled Oct. 28 court appearance will be "another hearing, or indeed a verdict."

She's hopeful, however, that the increased scrutiny of Saudi Arabia's actions in light of the Khashoggi case might help al-Ghomhgam avoid execution.

"We remain concerned … that the prosecution will continue to call for the death penalty in Israa's case," Hadid says. "We urge the authorities to not resort to that."

"If the world keeps thinking about the money and the contracts and deals with Saudi Arabia and not thinking about the human rights," Assiri says, "everyone will be in trouble, not just us."

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Prior thread on Ghomgham
http://rigorousintuition.ca/board2/view ... p?p=662199
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I am by virtue of its might divine,
The highest Wisdom and the first Love.

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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Oct 25, 2018 8:03 am

was she entertained?


CIA director listens to audio of journalist’s alleged murder

Shane Harris

CIA Director Gina Haspel listened to audio purportedly capturing the interrogation and killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, giving a key member of President Trump’s Cabinet access to the evidence used by Turkey to accuse Saudi Arabia of premeditated murder.

Haspel, who departed for a secret trip to Turkey on Monday, heard the audio during her visit, according to people familiar with her meetings.

President Trump, who has made Saudi Arabia a central pillar of his Middle East strategy, has grown increasingly skeptical of the kingdom’s claim that Khashoggi’s death was a “rogue operation” that occurred after a fistfight broke out in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

On Tuesday, Trump said Saudi officials had engaged in the “worst coverup ever” and that those behind the killing “should be in big trouble.”

A person familiar with the audio said it was “compelling” and could put more pressure on the United States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the death of Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for The Washington Post.

“This puts the ball firmly in Washington’s court,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and scholar at the Brookings Institution. “Not only will there be more pressure now from the media but Congress will say, ‘Gina, we would love to have you come visit and you can tell us exactly what you heard.’ ”

The Trump administration took its first concrete steps to penalize Saudi Arabia on Tuesday by revoking visas for agents implicated in the killing, a modest move considering 18 of the 21 Saudi suspects were already under arrest.

In announcing the measures, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is working with the Treasury Department on whether to impose sanctions on those responsible for the journalist’s death.

“These penalties will not be the last word on this matter from the United States,” Pompeo said. “We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those responsible accountable.”

Trump has reiterated that he views Saudi Arabia as a great ally and an important purchaser of U.S. tanks, bombs and planes.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader, has denied having knowledge of the mission and on Wednesday promised to bring those responsible to justice. He called the killing of Khashoggi a “heinous crime.”

Turkish officials have voiced their doubts about his intention to support a full investigation.

“How should a real investigation in Saudi Arabia work when one of the main suspects is the crown prince MBS?” said a Turkish senior official, referring to the crown prince by his initials.

“He is one of the suspects. Members of his royal guard were part of the killing squad. The U.S. nor the rest of the world should really accept this,” said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic.

Riedel said it will be difficult for Haspel to resist requests by Congress for a briefing. “It will be pretty hard for her to say no because at a minimum the intelligence committees can ask her to come in secret, but even if it’s a secret session, it will leak fast,” he said.

U.S. lawmakers have increased their pressure on the Trump administration, accusing the crown prince of ordering the killing.

“Do I think he did it? Yes, I think he did it,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview with CNN.

Sen. Thom Tillis, another Republican, told NBC that “in Saudi Arabia, you do not do something of this magnitude without having clearance from the top.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/na ... 9daf3fcf98


Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated in latest reversal

Tamer El-GhobashyISTANBUL —

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said on Thursday that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a planned operation, based on information it received from Turkish investigators in Istanbul, according to a statement from the kingdom’s Foreign Ministry.

It is the latest reversal from Saudi authorities, who last week said Khashoggi was killed accidentally in a fistfight at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by “rogue” agents.

The Foreign Ministry did not say what led the prosecutor to draw that conclusion, only that it was based on information shared by Turkish investigators working with Saudi officials in Turkey. According to the statement, the Saudi prosecutor will continue its investigation based on the new information.

Shortly after Khashoggi disappeared on Oct. 2 while retrieving a document at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkish authorities said he was killed in a premeditated attack by 15 Saudi agents sent to Turkey with the purpose of killing the journalist, who had been critical of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate, but last week said it had arrested 18 people and dismissed five officials after a preliminary investigation revealed he was killed in a fistfight at the consulate during a botched intelligence operation.

Turkey dismissed the Saudi assertion of an accidental death and has pressed the kingdom to concede Khashoggi was deliberately targeted for death.

“We have maintained since the beginning that the Khashoggi murder was premeditated,” a senior Turkish official told The Washington Post shortly after the Saudi announcement on Thursday. “We owe it to Jamal and his loved ones to uncover all of the truth. The criminal investigation continues in Turkey.”

Khashoggi, 59, was a contributing opinion writer for The Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/mi ... 4d8073bf1a



Trump appointee is a Saudi government lobbyist

Richard Hohlt earning six figures from kingdom bent on influencing Trump

By Carrie Levine 5:00 am, June 22, 2017 Updated: 9:46 pm, June 22, 2017

President Donald Trump talks with Saudi King Salman as they pose for photos with leaders at the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Jordan's King Abdallah II stands at right.

Evan Vucci/AP

One of President Donald Trump’s newest appointees is a registered agent of Saudi Arabia earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby on the kingdom’s behalf, according to U.S. Department of Justice records reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

Since January, the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry has paid longtime Republican lobbyist Richard Hohlt about $430,000 in exchange for “advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.”

Trump’s decision to appoint a registered foreign agent to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships clashes with the president’s vow to clean up Washington and limit the influence of special interests.

Trump singled out lobbyists for foreign governments for special criticism, saying they shouldn’t be permitted to contribute to political campaigns. Hohlt is himself a Trump donor, though his contributions came before he registered to represent Saudi Arabia.

“I will issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT! #DrainTheSwamp,” he tweeted in October.

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Key advisory body

The commission is essentially a part-time advisory body responsible for making final recommendations to the president of candidates for the prestigious White House fellowships, which President Lyndon B. Johnson created in 1964.

The candidates are usually accomplished professionals with sterling resumes. Fellows are typically given jobs in the White House and federal agencies. Past White House fellows include Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Hohlt said he is one of 19 commissioners who met over a weekend this month to interview the fellowship candidates — the commission’s only formal duty annually.

Hohlt stresses he has never lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of Saudi Arabia, which has aggressively courted Trump since he became president in January.

“That is not my role,” Hohlt said.

What role, then, does he play?

According to Hohlt’s disclosures with the Department of Justice, he registered to lobby for Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry in October and “provides them with advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.” He disclosed no direct contacts with government officials on the Saudis’ behalf as of April 30, the date covered by the latest Department of Justice report.

Hohlt said he was largely brought in to offer advice on overarching strategy and how the legislative process works.

He did directly contact some congressional offices in late May and June regarding an arms sale, he said, and those contacts will be disclosed in his next disclosure report, as required.

Hohlt added that he’s working for the Saudis without a formal contract. If the Saudis asked him to lobby for something the Trump administration opposed, “I’d say I’m not going to work on it,” Hohlt said.

For example, he said, the administration was in favor of the arms deal.

Trump strikes deals with Saudis

Trump’s first foreign trip as president came in May, when he visited Saudi Arabia.

While there, Trump touted the “tremendous” deals he said he struck with the Saudis, including an expanded arms agreement valued at $100 billion. During elaborate ceremonies, the Saudis heaped plaudits. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir praised Trump and praised his “vision,” “strength” and “decisiveness.”

Hohlt said he disclosed his Saudi lobbying job to Trump officials during the vetting process before his appointment.

White House spokeswoman Kelly Love said she had “nothing to add” in response to questions from the Center for Public Integrity about Trump’s appointment of Hohlt, including whether the Trump administration was aware Hohlt worked as a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry.

Love referred the question of whether the administration was aware of Hohlt’s representation of the Saudis to the White House fellows office, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Upon taking office, Trump issued an executive order on ethics that included, among other things, a lifetime ban on executive branch appointees engaging in work that would require registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, among other restrictions on lobbyists.

The law, known as FARA, is the same law that mandates disclosure of Hohlt’s work for Saudi Arabia.

Trump’s executive order doesn’t apply to part-time appointees such as Hohlt. Nonetheless, some government ethics experts still say the appointment presents a jarring contrast with the president’s statements.

And despite Trump’s order, he has issued ethics waivers to lobbyists who have taken full-time positions with the administration, including, for example, Michael Catanzaro, a former energy company lobbyist who is now a special assistant to the president and adviser on energy policy. The waiver allows Catanzaro to participate in matters on which he lobbied.

Trump donor

Hohlt is a Trump donor. He contributed $2,700, to Trump’s campaign in August and $5,000 to Trump’s transition in September, the maximum amounts permitted. Those contributions came before he registered to represent Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry in October.

Nonetheless, “Appointing someone who is registered under FARA as doing work for Saudi Arabia does seem odd at a time when he’s made a very big deal about not having people leave the government and then do work where they have to register under FARA,” said Larry Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign reform organization.

Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in Saint Louis, said, “There is truth to the slogan that personnel is policy. And so he’s appointing this lobbyist for Saudi Arabia to a commission that then recommends people for important positions.”

Hohlt also lobbies for numerous corporate clients. This year, he’s been registered to lobby on behalf of oil giant Chevron, the Motion Picture Association of America and a division of tobacco giant Altria, among others.

Asked about any potential conflict of interest, Hohlt pointed to the extremely part-time nature of his fellowship commission appointment.

“I guess I’m an old-fashioned lobbyist,” Hohlt said. “I know how to separate lobbying and not lobbying.”
https://www.publicintegrity.org/2017/06 ... t-lobbyist
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:59 pm

Ahmed Al-Assiri, the Saudi intelligence chief taking the fall for Khashoggi’s murder, met with Michael Flynn & other Trump transition team members to discuss regime change in Iran. Mueller is investigating it.




Polly Sigh

SCOOP: In Jan 2017, Saudi spy chief Al-Assiri [who's taking the fall for Khashoggi's murder] met in NY with Mike Flynn, other Trump officials, George Nader, and Psy Group CEO Joel Zamel, who met with Don Jr in Aug 2016.

MBS spy chief Al-Assiri's Jan 2017 NY meetings appear to be part of Saudi & Emirati efforts to lobby the incoming Trump admin against Qatar & Iran. Around the same time, Emirati Crown Prince MBZ also met with Bannon, Flynn, & Jared Kushner in NY.

Recall in Dec 15, 2016: In an unusual breach of protocol, Emirati crown prince MBZ made an undisclosed trip to New York [without notifying the Obama admin] and met with Trump transition team members Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon.

ICYMI: Jared Kushner friend/envoy Rick Gerson met with Nader in NY [weeks before the he attended the Jan 2017 Seychelles summit] when Trump officials, Kushner, Flynn, & Bannon had a secret meeting with MBZ & UAE Amb Otaiba at a Four Seasons in NY.

AUG 2016: The emissary, Nader [now cooperating w/ Mueller], told Don Jr that Saudi & UAE crown princes MBS & MBZ were eager to help elect Trump. Zamal, who worked for Deripaska, proposed a covert online manipulation campaign to aide their efforts.

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Saudi Spy Met With Team Trump About Taking Down Iran

Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, the Saudi intelligence chief taking the fall for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, hobnobbed in New York with Michael Flynn and other members of the transition team shortly before Trump’s inauguration. The topic of their discussion: regime change in Iran.

Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful Saudi crown prince, dispatched Assiri from Riyadh for the meetings, which took place over the course of two days in early January 2017, according to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast. The January meetings have come under scrutiny by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of his probe into foreign governments’ attempts to gain influence in the Trump campaign and in the White House, an individual familiar with the investigation told The Daily Beast. A spokesperson for Mueller declined to comment.

The New York meetings were attended and brokered by George Nader, a Lebanese-American with close ties to leaders in the United Arab Emirates who is currently cooperating with Mueller’s team. Also present at the meetings was Israeli social media strategist Joel Zamel, who has been questioned by Mueller for his role in pitching top campaign officials on an influence operation to help Trump win the election—overtures that could have broken federal election laws.

Steve Bannon was involved as well in conversations on Iran regime change during those two days in January, according to the communications.

The communications show that participants in the meetings discussed a multi-pronged strategy for eroding, and eventually ending, the current Iranian regime—including economic, information, and military tactics for weakening the Tehran government. Earlier this year the New York Times reported Nader was promoting a plan to carry out economic sabotage against Iran and pitched the plan in the Spring of 2017 to Saudi, UAE, and American officials. It’s unclear if that plan ever moved forward or if it was part of the larger project for regime change discussed in these January 2017 meetings.

“It smacks of covert action planning, which is the most sensitive thing the U.S. government does and is so uniquely the province of the sitting president.”

— Former acting CIA director John McLaughlin

Either way, former CIA acting director John McLaughlin told The Daily Beast, the get-togethers as described were very unusual.

“It’s concerning to me as a former intelligence official because of the fact that it smacks of covert action planning, which is the most sensitive thing the U.S. government does and is so uniquely the province of the sitting president,” he said.

A spokesperson for Zamel said his client had spoken to the special counsel’s office about his business but declined to comment on the January 2017 meeting. Bannon did not comment on the record for this story. A lawyer for Flynn declined to comment.

The meetings in New York, which have not yet been reported, show the depth of efforts by foreign officials and power brokers to influence the nascent Trump administration on the most sensitive foreign policy decisions. The discussions in New York came at a time when the Trump team was developing its Iran strategy and looking for input from individuals who were working on plans to counter Tehran’s influence. Saudi Arabia and the UAE, whose leaders made overtures to the campaign throughout the 2016 election, were at the time developing campaigns to thwart its regional adversaries, including Iran.

“It makes complete sense that Assiri would have been meeting with the Trump team during this time,” one former Pentagon official with close ties to the intelligence community told The Daily Beast. “The team was meeting with a lot of foreign influencers and Saudi was a country that wanted in on all anti-Iran projects.”

The meetings in New York not only reveal details of one of the Trump team’s first encounters with officials from Saudi Arabia—a country that is embroiled in one of the year’s most scandalous and consequential geopolitical incidents—but also sheds more light on Trumpworld’s relationship to Zamel, a self-styled Mark Zuckerberg of the national-security world with deep ties to Israeli intelligence.

Trump’s team drew in Zamel, a young strategist and entrepreneur, during the campaign. Zamel had pitched a plan in August 2016 to Donald Trump Jr. to help Trump win the presidential election, according to The New York Times. It’s unclear if that plan was ever put into action. Trump’s lawyer has previously stated that the president heard Zamel’s plan but did not move forward with it.

Zamel’s lawyer has also previously denied his client’s involvement in U.S. election or campaign efforts and told The Daily Beast that he is “not a target” of the Mueller investigation.

But it appears Zamel remained close to the Trump team throughout the election and into the transition. Part of the reason? He had an easy in. He had been introduced to Nader, closely connected with the Trump campaign, years earlier by John Hannah, a former aide to Dick Cheney now working as a senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a right-leaning think tank known for its anti-Iran work. Hannah is listed as a member of the advisory council of Wikistrat, one of Zamel’s companies, on the firm’s website. (Other members of that board, including former CIA chief Michael Hayden, say their involvement with Wikistrat is informal and at arms-length.)

Hussein Ibish, Senior Resident Scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told The Daily Beast that Wikistrat doesn’t bill itself as a typical consulting firm.

“Wikistrat presents themselves as a kind of private intelligence service,” Ibish said. “If you look at the work they’ve done in Yemen, they’ve been a work for hire. It’s sort of like an intelligence-for-hire kind of thing.”

“If you have a very rudimentary conversation discussing the possibility of raising the question of regime change, then it’s not surprising to bring in a set of stakeholders including Wikistrat,” he added.

Details of the January 2017 meeting reviewed by The Daily Beast show how Zamel—already a familiar face in Trumpworld for his audacious plan to use social media influence campaigns to help beat Hillary Clinton—had ambitions beyond Trump’s election. According to communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, Zamel flew to New York to help pitch the Iran idea to Assiri and Trump's team, delivering a bound presentation full of tactics to undercut the country’s government.

“The communications show that participants discussed a multi-pronged strategy for eroding, and eventually ending, the current Iranian regime—including economic, information, and military tactics for weakening the Tehran government.”

The Trump team offered a new way forward for Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel who had all grown frustrated by the Obama administration for its stance toward Iran and its brokering of the nuclear deal. Trump had campaigned, in part, on the promise that he would renegotiate the deal and ake major steps against the Iranian regime during his first days in office. In his first public address after taking office, Flynn said the U.S. was “officially putting Iran on notice” after it carried out a missle test and attack on a Saudi warship by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Since then, the Trump administration has pulled out of the nuclear deal and levied snapback sanctions on the country.

The meetings in New York were part of a flurry of visits from influential foreigners to Trump Tower. Weeks before, Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed reportedly discussed Iran policy at Trump Tower with Bannon, Flynn, and Jared Kushner. The meetings appear to be part of Saudi and Emirati efforts to lobby the incoming Trump administration against Qatar and Iran, their top regional competitors. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Nader worked with Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy to urge the White House to take an aggressive stance against the two countries. (Nader also helped orchestrate the meeting between Blackwater founder and Trump ally Erik Prince and Moscow moneyman Kirill Dmitriev.)

Mohammed bin Salman—known by his initials, MBS— leaned on General Assiri to help carry out conversations with western officials about Iran and the Saudi-led war in Yemen, according to two senior officials in the intelligence community. Assiri was previously the spokesperson for Saudi’s military offensive in Yemen. That effort, in concert with the UAE and backed by the United States and European countries, has drawn enormous outcry from human rights activists and members of Congress. The UN has called it the globe’s worst humanitarian crisis, and UN air chief Mark Lowcock said earlier this week that the war puts 14 million Yemeni people at risk of starvation.

Sources familiar with the Saudi footprint in Washington described Assiri as one of MBS’ closest allies and most trusted confidantes. Before joining the intelligence service, he was top officer in the Saudi air force—an elite service branch tasked with shooting down missiles that target the country. A former U.S. defense official told The Daily Beast Assiri was highly regarded in his air force days.

The killing of Khashoggi has thrown Assiri, and his Saudi leaders, under the spotlight. While several Washington-based lobbying firms have dropped the Kingdom as a client, the Trump administration says it is still mulling its options for punishment. Earlier this week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the administration would ban travel visas for the individuals involved in the operation in Istanbul. But it is unclear if the White House will approve financial measures levied against the Kingdom. If it does, those actions would most likely fall after the midterm elections.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/saudi-spy ... -down-iran


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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:26 pm



Everyone's first thought.

She'll be reviewing it on Rotten Tomatoes, just like her boss reviewed the series so far: "They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups."

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/23/trump-s ... lling.html
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:07 pm

:)


emptywheel

Wonder if Jared was at the briefing, given that he's in charge of deciding what they want to believe abt the assassination.



Mark Knoller

.@PressSec says Pres Trump was briefed today by CIA Director Gina Haspel, back from Turkey on a trip to hear its intelligence on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. "She briefed the President on their findings and her discussions," says Sanders.
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Re: Khashoggi Disappearance

Postby JackRiddler » Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:30 pm

Grizzly » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:12 pm wrote:Anyone remember this from, almost a year ago?
[b]Loud explosions heard in Riyadh, missile intercepted[/b]

https://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/873oto/loud_explosions_heard_in_riyadh_missile/


Yes
Last edited by JackRiddler on Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We meet at the borders of our being, we dream something of each others reality. - Harvey of R.I.

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