It reads like a swaying narrative of retreat. A man’s body is subjected to a gruesome anatomical fate, his parts separated by a specially appointed saw doctor – an expert in the rapid autopsy – overseen by a distinctly large number of individuals. Surveillance cameras had improbably failed that day. We are not sure where, along the line, the torturers began their devilish task: the diligent beating punctuated by questions, followed by the severing of fingers, or perhaps a skipping of any formalities. One Turkish investigator sniffing around the Saudi consulate in Istanbul saw such handiwork “like a Tarantino film.”
The result was clear enough: the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi embassy on October 2 and never came out alive. (Even an attempt of the gathered crew of death to procure a Khashoggi double was noted.)
For aspiring authoritarians, the Saudi state is a model instructor. First came blanket denial to the disappearance: the Saudi authorities had no idea where the journalist had gone after October 2. On October 18, Riyadh officially acknowledged Khashoggi’s death. By October 21, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir had come to the conclusion that this had, in fact, been murder, and a mistake. “This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had”.
Then, an improbable story of a fist fight developed through the media channels. (When…