The name Khashoggi bring backs a lot of memories, especially of opulence, ostentation, arms deals and the super luxurious yacht called Nabila. Adnan Khashoggi was once the most flamboyant wealthy person across the globe with a penchant for landing into controversy.
Some say he was the richest person, but maybe that’s because people were dazzled by the magnitude of his blindingly extravagant lifestyle.
Be that as it may, today the world is rocked by another Khashoggi; this time, it’s Jamal Khashoggi. Whether he is a relative of the deliciously decadent playboy of the 70s and 80s is not mentioned.
Jamal, a Saudi journalist, who has been critical of the Saudi monarchy, went to collect some documents at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never showed up.
As per reports, his fiancé, who was not allowed to enter, waited outside but Jamal never re-appeared from the consulate.
While Turkey claims that the Saudi dissident has been murdered or abducted by Saudi officials and taken back to Riyadh, the desert kingdom has flatly refused any foul play.
But this is the age of CCTVs and phones with cameras, denying accusations does not clear the name of anyone if there’s ample footage to indicate that something sinister was afoot.
Morning entry, evening departure is suspicious
The first point to suggest that there has been some subterfuge is the fact that some Saudi officials arrived in the morning and then left in the evening, while the wife-to-be of Jamal was waiting outside the consulate.
Two questions come up here which no one is asking:
Since CCTV footage shows that Jamal went into the consulate premises a little after 1pm then it’s natural that if his work is delayed he would have called his fiancé to tell her of the extra time needed. Did he make any such call? If no, then why did the wife-to-be wait so long without immediately calling the police?
Without sounding facetious, wives, anywhere in the world, are more than agitated if their husbands are out of sight for too long. In this case, the woman in question had valid reason to be more concerned since Jamal was not in favourable terms with the current Saudi regime and had been its vociferous critic.
Meanwhile, international media is showing footage of Saudi officials leaving Istanbul on private jets.
So, here’s the second question: if the plane was carrying Saudi officials then didn’t their luggage undergo customs checks? Or, can Saudi diplomats board an aircraft and leave without having to undergo any inspection?
If the current rumour that Jamal has been killed is true and taken away then there would be a box or a large bag.
Unless of course, the plane, the car with blacked out windows plus the arrival/departure of the diplomats were part of a ruse to divert attention.
Coming to the much-highlighted van with the tinted glasses, the suggestion made is that this car was used to move Jamal Khashoggi from the consulate. If so, then shouldn’t Turkey ask for that car to be forensically tested?
Why did Khasoggi go alone?
Once more, we come to common sense or the lack of it. Will anyone ever go a hostile territory alone? I don’t think so. Since Jamal had been censorious of the current regime, it would have made more sense if he had gone with a companion or even his fiancé.
Why leave her at the entrance?
No one is saying if Khashoggi was carrying a phone or not. If he had been carrying a phone then a GPS search with satellite, which is available to police forces in almost all countries, can trace the last location along with the phone calls made.
Let’s assume Jamal did not have a phone. Obviously, suspicions arise as to why someone would enter into uncertain premises without a phone or any means to communicate with the outside world.
Once more, common sense states that there should have been Turkish intelligence officials keeping an eye on Jamal since it was a well-known fact that the Saudi government did not approve of his critical stance.
Too many red herrings?
With CCTV’s everywhere, the entire drama of the van, the sudden entry and departure of Saudi officials seem like a diversionary tactic. Or maybe, it’s deliberately done to appear silly so analysts will begin to look for other explanations.
Whatever the actual reason, there are too many loose ends in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. Some questions also arise from his rather secretive behaviour.
By the way, if Jamal had left the embassy then CCTV would have captured it. In reality, there is no such footage as yet, which gives ample reason to contend that Jamal went in but never came out.
One other explanation may be that if he is killed, his body is either buried within the consulate premises or put in an incinerator.
At this stage, the possibilities are countless. If this had been a spy novel I would have suggested that someone looking like Jamal went in, asking the wife over the phone to wait outside.
The real Jamal in the meantime is in the custody of someone who will benefit from putting pressure on the Saudi government. Sounds outlandish, right?
Well, with the present state of affairs, anything is possible. To be honest, it’s just as complex as the name Khashoggi, which the international media is stumbling to pronounce.
Meanwhile, Saudi government has many questions to answer. Usually, conversations with dissidents are recorded. Turkey should ask for that recorded interaction.
Towheed Feroze is a news editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.