News & Politics

Suspect in Khashoggi Murder Killed in 'Suspicious' Car Accident

Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

One of the 15 Saudis shown on video walking into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul shortly before journalist Jamal Khashoggi was apparently murdered, Mashal Saad al-Bostani, was involved in a fatal car crash in Riyadh, according to the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak.

Few details of the accident have emerged, but the newspaper, a semi-official organ of the Turkish government, claims the accident was “suspicious.”

Meanwhile, another Turkish media outlet, the Hurriyet Daily News, reports that the Saudi consul in Istanbul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, may be the target of the “next execution.” News accounts quoting from a Turkish intelligence recording that purportedly caught Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment said that al-Otaibi may be targeted because of his reluctance to have the execution take place at the consulate.

Al-Otaibi was caught on audio tape during Khashoggi’s interrogations — during which the journalist’s fingers were cut off and he was beheaded — telling them to “do it somewhere else outside or I will be in trouble.”

He returned to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday before Turkish police searched his residence.

Surveillance footage showed consulate vehicles with diplomatic plates arrived at the consul’s home about two hours after Khashoggi, 60, walked into the consulate.

Saudi Arabia has called the allegations “baseless” and claimed the writer left unharmed later in the day.

Crime scene investigators concluded a second search of the consulate and the consul’s residence overnight Thursday.

If the Saudis are, indeed, “tying up loose ends,” this won’t be the only “accident” to befall the alleged killers.

Two big caveats to this story. The news outlets reporting the “suspicious accident’ are tools of the Turkish government. The story would not have appeared at all without the blessing of the highest authorities.

Another problem with this news is that the New York Post is the only major American news site repeating the Turkish reports.

The anti-Saudi hysteria continues to build in the U.S,, which raises several fascinating questions. If Khashoggi had been some construction executive or an ordinary Saudi citizen, who would have cared that he disappeared into the Saudi consulate? The media who are hyping this story, flogging it for all it’s worth, should ask themselves if Khashoggi wasn’t an occasional columnist for the Washington Post, would any of them have given a damn?

There are hundreds of Khashoggis languishing in prisons across the Middle East. They are working for freedom from oppressive governments and getting tortured and executed, with nary a line appearing in the New York Times about it.

And their shame should be compounded because the Times and most other media outlets have noticed all of a sudden that the kingdom is an oppressive regime. If the Times and other American media outlets were one tenth as vocal about the extraordinary oppression of women under Islamic law, the execution of gays, the stoning of adulteresses, and the “honor” murders of little girls who “shame” their families by smiling at boys not related to them, then their outrage over “human rights” and the Khashoggi murder might have a ring of authenticity to it.

Instead, as with anything and everything else, the effort now is concentrated on making Donald Trump look bad.

Trump, who evidently wants proof of Khashoggi’s murder at the hands of Saudi intelligence before condemning them, has angered the members of the media who have swallowed the story whole despite the fact that almost all news on the story has originated with the Turkish government.

It’s looking more and more like Khashoggi was murdered in the Istanbul consulate. But who did it, under whose orders, and how it went down are still to be determined. Saudi Arabia is an ally of extraordinary strategic importance to the U.S. They are on the front lines against a real enemy of the U.S. — Iran. The Iranians threaten our friends and allies in the Middle East, which is why we’re selling the Saudis $100 billion in some of the most sophisticated military hardware on the planet.

All the caterwauling in the media about “human rights” would actually resonate if there had been a smidgen of criticism directed at President Obama for murdering more than a thousand civilians in drone strikes during his time in office.

The moral posturing against Saudi Arabia is empty, vapid, and hypocritical when placed in its proper context. Punish the Saudis if Khashoggi was murdered in their consulate. But it is really worth a rupture in relations with the kingdom — a move that would only benefit the Islamist government of Turkey and our mortal enemy Iran?