The Weekly Notebook – Khashoggi murder plot explained

Khashoggi murder plot explained … Prince Harry checks out Governor-General job  

The gruesome murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the disappearance of his remains was conducted by the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The chief architects are US President Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo, the 6th CIA director from January 2017 to April 2018.

Earlier this year Pompeo replaced Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil, as US Secretary of State. According to biographers, while he ran America’s largest oil company Tillerson “cooperated closely with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter and a longtime US ally”.

When Pompeo arrived at the State Department in April this year he brought with him the CIA’s long-standing beef that the Saudi Arabian royal family had escaped “scot-free” from its involvement in the September 11 bombing of New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon in Washington DC.

President Barack Obama had won a voter “bump” by assassinating Saudi Arabian Osama bin Laden, son of a Riyadh construction millionaire, in his Pakistan safe house. However, bin Laden’s paymasters, bankers and facilitators had never been named or charged.

This was despite the fact that President George Bush’s 9/11 Commission found that Saudi Arabia was the chief financier of the al-Qaeda network.

When she was US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent an email saying: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan) and other terrorist groups.”

The email was released by Wikileaks founder, Australian journalist Julian Assange, in December 2009, and never denied.

Perhaps Tillerson, a lifelong oil man, didn’t have the stomach for the CIA’s retaliation plan against the House of Saud, but did Pompeo?

In any case, we know that Trump wanted to “do something” which would demonstrate he was “stronger” than Obama and he was determined to impose the inane simplicity of his belief that “an eye for an eye” represents strong diplomacy.

After all, figured Trump, Washington had secured the execution of military “hardliners” in the North Korean regime during the delicate negotiations leading up to the Singapore summit.

Defence Minister Hyon Yong Choi, reportedly executed

It was reported in Western media that Lieutenant General Hyon Ju-song was shot by a firing squad for “engaging in anti-Party acts”, General Ri Yong-gil, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, was executed and that Defence Minister Yong-choi had also been despatched.

Interestingly, US media refused to deny the claims or to investigate whether they were true or not.

Trump felt emboldened. Who could possibly object to one of the key 9/11 perpetrators being executed? The script was written, all the participants were in place, Jamal Khashoggi had to be lured from self-exile in New York to Turkey.

What could wrong? Er, everything!

The Khashoggi connection

Billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi with wife Lamia

In the secret world of the House of Saud, the Khashoggi family are the next thing to royalty. They are Western in outlook, reform-minded, extremely rich and pro-Palestinian.

Before the king of Saudi Arabia takes a major decision on oil, defence, security, diplomacy or social affairs, he will first consult the Khashoggis. They matter.

The first influential Khashoggi was Mohammad Khashoggi, personal physician to King Abdulaziz Al Saud, aka Ibn Saud, the founder and first king of Saudi Arabia (1932-53). One of Dr Khashoggi’s sons was the notorious Adnan Khashoggi, the arms dealer who built a personal fortune of many BILLIONS of dollars.

In his stormy career, Adnan Khashoggi was involved in scandals such as Irangate, Contragate and was indicted on corruption charges with Imelda Marcos of the Philippines but walked away free. One of Adnan Khashoggi’s sisters, Samira, married Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, onetime owner of Harrod’s in Knightsbridge. Her son, Dodi, was about to marry Princess Di when she was killed in a car smash in Paris.

One of Adnan Khashoggi’s nephews is journalist Jamal Khashoggi who previously interviewed Bin Laden in Afghanistan and became his friend. More recently he lived in self-exile in New York to become a highly vocal and effective critic of the Saudi regime, especially in The Washington Post. He was lured to Turkey to obtain official papers allowing him to marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.

On October 2 he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul just as a team of Saudi security agents arrived from Riyadh on a top secret mission. He disappeared into the Saudi consulate and has not been seen since but believed to have been drugged, murdered and butchered.

At the time of his execution, Jamal Khashoggi had become Public Enemy No 1 of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS, the closest ally of Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a real estate developer married to Ivanka Trump, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Finding a believable story

This week, after various claims by the Saudi regime were shot down in flames, President Trump sent Mike Pompeo scuttling to Riyadh to fix a new narrative which cleared the CIA and the White House.

The assassin as “lone wolf” hadn’t flown and neither had the story of a “rogue” in the Saudi palace. Suicide failed the pub test after about one hour.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Saudi Arabia

Whoever heard of the US Secretary of State making a trip halfway round the world to talk about a clumsy assassination of a critic of a foreign country? The event had nothing to do with Washington – or did it?

Pompeo said his mission to Riyadh was to “get the facts” but it was nothing of the sort. It was to obscure the facts and protect himself and his boss.

The fall-out from the Khashoggi murder has been immense. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is under the hammer and his dangerous association with the Saudi royal family and Israel’s Netanyahu has fallen apart.

Crown Prince Salman has brought disgrace on the royal family and he will pay for it. He will be exiled, imprisoned or killed; that’s what happens in ruthless autocracies.

Kushner, architect of the America’s diplomatic love-in with Netanyahu, is in disgrace too and only Ivanka can save his White House career.

More participants in the Khashoggi murder plot are appearing every day as investigators hunting Crown Prince Salman, Trump, Kushner and Netanyahu seek answers.

Trump set out to re-write Middle East history. He has succeeded in a way that he could never have imagined.

Scott Morrison stumbles

With exquisite timing, Australia’s club-footed Prime Minister, Pastor Scott Morrison, has gone the “full Trump” on the eve of the by-election in Wentworth.

This week Morrison speculated about moving the Oz Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and called for a review of the nuclear peace agreement with Iran.

Morrison’s speech was a cringing echo of the crazed and widely denounced statements made by Trump in recent weeks.

The Palestinians, Indonesians and Malaysians immediately condemned Morrison’s statements and talked about the potential damage to diplomatic and cultural relations, trade and investment. China, India, Pakistan, Japan thought Australia’s PM had gone “Trump crazy” and more or less ignored the Wentworth sideshow.

In fact, the damage has been done and no amount of crawling and excuse-making by Australian diplomats and Department of Defence officials can patch it up.

Whichever way you look at it, Morrison’s days are numbered. The Australian voters and the Coalition will not tolerate this level of incompetence.  They could not wear Billy McMahon and they won’t accept Morrison either.

As a parting gesture, he could shift the Israeli Embassy from Canberra to Double Bay.

Prince Harry’s royal circus

Prince Harry greets the incumbent Governor-General, General Sir Peter Cosgrove

The royal visit to Australia by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, aka the Duchess of Sussex, is a purely and simply a political event. They are being “screen-tested” for future vice-regal jobs as Governor-General of Australia and Mrs Governor-General.

The nauseating coverage by the Australian media where it has been front page for more than a week signals success for Buckingham Palace and Britain’s Tory Government.

The “real” story is that the Palace wants to send Harry and his African-American bride as far away from London as possible. In the UK they are far and away the most popular of the royals which is upsetting the top members of the royal family as well as Mrs May. Harry and Meghan are milking all the precious oxygen of royal coverage and diverting it away away from the matriarch in charge, QE2, and the pretenders to the throne, Prince Charles and his son, Prince William.

Next year will be critical for the Windsors because they have a crowded and potentially hazardous agenda:

  • Prince Phillip, aged 97, is on his last legs and a royal funeral can’t be far away;
  • Queen Elizabeth, 92, is considering abdication to make way for her eldest son, Prince Charles, who turns 70 in November;
  • Both Prince Charles and his second wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, are divorcees and strict royalists are opposed to their coronation and enthronement;
  • Prince William, second in line to the throne, and his wife, Kate Middleton, will celebrate their 8th wedding anniversary next year and William will turn 37 in July. Hours before the wedding he was created Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus and became a wealthy landowner with rent pouring into his private bank account.

Put simply, Harry and Ms Markle are being shooed off to Australia because they have become an irritating media diversion; they were here on a job rehearsal to see whether they could live here and whether Australians would welcome them here. The military-driven Invictus Games is simply one cynical part of the PR offensive and the  disabled service personnel are “extras”.

Meghan privately believes Australia is a racist country and she has huge misgivings about spending the next few years here. That is why Ms Markle went ballistic when she was told the Australian Senate had debated a white supremacist-style motion from Pauline Hanson which included the KKK slogan “It’s OK to be white”. Coalition senators were ordered to vote a second time and Hanson’s racist motion was chucked out.

Some Palace mandarins are now considering a uber solution in which Mr and Mrs Markle take a vice regal role which embraces Australia, New Zealand and those Pacific Islands still loyal to London, the monarchy, the Foreign Office and the old Empire trade zone. That will give the Markle family an opportunity to maintain their tans, learn to surf, go snorkelling and protect whales, dolphins and turtles.

There is an abundance of evidence to show that Australians are being asked to solve a family problem for the Tory Government and the Windsor family which strengthens Washington’s containment of China. Apart from the plan’s slap in the face to our Asian neighbours (all republics), it will cost Oz taxpayers a small fortune. We are suckers if we fall for it.

The politics of Buck House

Every overseas trip by members of the royal family has to be approved by the government-of-the-day. Normally No 10 phones Buck House and sets out a timetable for overseas visits. The PM and the monarch through the Executive Council reach a timetable which is amicable to everyone.

All the speeches are written and approved in advance and the expenses paid are by unsuspecting taxpayers, of course. The current royal tour is costing Australians about $2 million and Brits about the same. For the record, Harry’s personal wealth is about $40 million and Ms Markle’s about $10 million.

The secretive collusion between the monarchy and the political establishment is the essence of the constitutional or parliamentary monarchy.

It works most smoothly when it also enjoys the collusion of the UK, US and Oz media. Buck House has a veritable army of spin doctors and tipsters who feed gossip and photo opportunities to the media.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney Daily Telegraph gave gushing coverage to this week’s royal visit. “MEGMANIA – Sydney goes crazy for Down Under Duchess” blared the front page headline followed by four more pages inside.

The Sydney Morning Herald (“Independent.Always”) was more restrained but only by a smidgin.

What struck me was how easily normally serious-minded people could abandon their previously-held views on the monarchy, the republic, choosing an Australian to be the head of state, indigenous people’s rights and throw themselves into a welter of cultural cringing.

When did Australians start believing in royal families and royal birth rights? Maybe Australians have a secret love affair with the Windsors which is hidden behind the bluster normally associated with barbecues and the bar room?

Just when most Brits are fed up to the back teeth with the enormously expensive royal circus, many Australians appear to want the grisly show to go on. I don’t get it.

Marsh brothers: a cricket saga

Race horse owning brothers Mitch and Shaun Marsh

Cricket Australia’s Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitch, continue to flop in Test matches but, quite mysteriously, continue to be selected. I think I have found out why.

In the current two-match series against Pakistan being played in the Gulf emirates where law-breakers can be whipped, tortured or beheaded, the Marshes are playing dreadfully.

In the First Test in Dubai, their first innings scores were: S Marsh 7, M March 12. In the second innings, S Marsh 0, M Marsh 0.

But this “Golden Pair” of duds were duly selected for the Second Test as well. Their scores this week at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi have not improved. First innings: S Marsh 3, M Marsh 13. Australia all out for 145. Remember: these are highly paid professional batsmen.

Then I read a profile of Sydney radio ranter Alan Jones written by the estimable Kate McClymont. She touched upon Jones’s hobby of owning very expensive thoroughbred horses. His partners in the ownership of some of the horses are the Marsh brothers!

I’m now asking myself: if Jones, a former member of the SCG Trust, can persuade the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to vandalise the Sydney Opera House with vulgar advertising for a racing event at Randwick (in which he had runners) and to build a brand new stadium to replace the perfectly serviceable Sydney Football Stadium in Paddington, maybe he has similar influence with the cricket selectors? When is Australia going to drop the Marshes – and Alan Jones? Just asking …

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