On Friday, Saudi Arabia acknowledged that Jamal Khashoggi was, in fact, dead. The cover story devised by the kingdom would be laughable if the matter weren’t so serious. According to Saudi media, Khashoggi died in a physical altercation at the consulate in Istanbul.
Not only is that ridiculous and contrary to all evidence, but it also has a glaring hole that the crown prince will be hard-put to fill.
Based on the Saudi telling, the Washington Post columnist and dissident journalist entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and got into some sort of fight with the 15-person hit team flown in to meet him. Then, in the course of that fight, he died.
The Saudis should have done a better job thinking through their lie, as this version of events means that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is reportedly heading the investigation, will have to produce a body.
If, as Turkish media report based on audio recordings of the incident, Khashoggi’s body was dismembered and his fingers cut off, it’s going to be pretty hard to explain that away as an accidental death from a fight.
Failure to do so would only further the already readily-transparent lies that the kingdom has peddled so far.
Before today, the official line was that he had somehow left the consulate alive without his fiancee, who was waiting outside, knowing and then somehow disappeared. Never mind the mounting evidence that he was killed inside the consulate, followed by a hasty cover-up.
In short, it seems that at least one more person should have been added to that list of Saudi officials fired over the murder: whoever thought that this story would work.