The Khashoggi case gets even more bizarre

As if the Khashoggi case did not have enough weird, not to mention macabre and gruesome elements, each day seems to bring new ones. Today we learn of CCTV footage that reveals an elaborate attempt to use a body double to create a false narrative that Khashoggi actually left the consulate on his own.

This video suggests that a cover story had been prepared, which means that his murder, or at least his disappearance, had been conceived well in advance and was not an interrogation gone wrong, one of the many changing stories put out by the Saudi government. But why was this story not released immediately? Was it because they did not realize that Khashoggi’s fiancé would go with him and be waiting outside the consulate for his return, which makes the idea of him immediately going sightseeing alone in Istanbul ridiculous? And how did they know what he would be wearing to the consulate? Of course, it is likely that they had been monitoring him for days and tourists tend to have a limited wardrobe and men’s styles are usually limited and easy to duplicate.

(For the sake of brevity and to avoid repeated use of caveats such as ‘alleged’, I am going to simply assume that Khashoggi was murdered even though no body has been produced nor its absence explained by the Saudi authorities who have now conceded that he died within the consulate because of a ‘fist fight’ with ‘rogue elements’ of the Saudi government, although those rogues seem to have links with the highest levels of the Saudi government including crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.)

Meanwhile the Turkish authorities seem to be deliberately making the Saudis squirm by releasing information in dribs and drabs as teasers for the future release of information. The latest are about phone calls.

Meanwhile a pro-Turkish government newspaper published claims that there had been four telephone calls between the Saudi consulate and the office of the crown prince in Riyadh on the day of Khashoggi’s death. The Turkish newspaper claim is not substantiated, but previous leaks to Turkish press by Turkish government sources have proved accurate.

The phone call claim takes responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder closer to the office of the crown prince, though the content of the calls are not known.

To really rub it in, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan promises that details of Khashoggi’s killing “will be revealed in all its nakedness” in parliament on Tuesday, thereby ensuring that news of the opening day of the big investment conference in Riyadh will be completely overshadowed.

The Turkish authorities are clearly acting on information that they have.

Turkish police were continuing a search of the Belgrad forest north of Istanbul on Monday, after investigators last week expanded their search to the forest and farmland in Yavlova province, a 90-minute drive south, on the other side of the Marmara Sea.

Two security cameras monitored the entrance to the vast 5,500 hectare wilderness. A woman who lives in a cottage down the road from the entrance said she had recently noticed more traffic than usual at night.

Surveillance footage pulled from 150 cameras all over the city led police to conclude that on the night of Khashoggi’s death one vehicle owned by the Saudi consulate travelled to the forest, and the other to Yavlova.

Tomorrow’s big reveal by Erdoğan is going to dominate the news.


  1. Holms says

    And how did they know what he would be wearing to the consulate? Of course, it is likely that they had been monitoring him for days and tourists tend to have a limited wardrobe.

    I think you are overlooking an obvious one: once Kashoggi had been murdered -- which reportedly took place within minutes of his entry -- they simply stripped him and handed the clothes over to the double.

  2. says

    I really don’t understand the game that Turkey is playing. It’s fairly obvious that, because of what appears to be impressively extensive surveillance, they have a tight case developed regarding what happened (and that this has been the case from the very moment that this happened); and yet, so far, instead of releasing what would appear to be a mountain of profoundly incriminating evidence they are just offering these unofficial teases through side channels that are meant to show that they know a lot (rather than actually showing the totality of what they know).

  3. Mano Singham says


    What you say is the most likely scenario. I had mistakenly assumed when writing the post that the double entered wearing the same clothes as when he left but that is not the case.

  4. says

    I’ve actually seen reports (unfortunately I don’t remember where, but likely the CBC, BBC, or the Guardian) that have specifically reported that the body double wore Khashoggi’s clothes and took his apple watch (and phone?) to leave appropriate GPS data behind.

    This part makes me believe that he was at least rendered unconscious by a choke hold (the Saudi lies keep mentioning a choke hold as the means of accidental death), whether or not he was killed that way or allowed to wake up so he could be tortured is something else again.

  5. tbrandt says

    Erdogan seems to be twisting the knife and reveling in it. He doesn’t seem to like MbS very much, and I imagine that the feeling is mutual. By offering the information drop by drip, Erdogan is goading the Saudis into continually refining their excuses and explanations and then rubbing each new lie in their faces. It seems to be very effective; I can’t image he’d have gotten this much attention or had this much impact by just releasing the full explanation immediately.

    So at this point, MbS’s major achievements in foreign policy look something like this:

    A pointless blockade on Qatar (he’s even floated building a canal to cut them off!)

    A pointless, apparently endless, and very expensive war in Yemen

    The reckless murder and inept coverup of a journalist for a prominent American paper

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