Archive for November, 2018


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The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing.  Journalist Jamal Khashoggi, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and was never seen again.  An investigation found that a team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on a government aircraft and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate, where he had gone to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

The CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that was intercepted by U.S. Intelligence, that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi.  Khalid told Khashoggi that he should go to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.  It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction.

The CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.  CIA analysts believe he has a firm grip on power and is not in danger of losing his status as heir to the throne despite the Khashoggi scandal.

The Saudis have offered multiple, contradictory explanations for what happened at the consulate, after initially denying any knowledge of his whereabouts.  Their latest explanation was that a rogue band of operatives who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, in an operation that veered off course when the journalist “was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death.”

Among the intelligence collected by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi Consulate.  The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio which shows that Khashoggi was killed within moments of entering the consulate.  According to officials who have listened to the recording, Khashoggi died in the office of the Saudi consul general, who can be heard expressing his displeasure that Khashoggi’s body now needed to be disposed of and the facility cleaned of any evidence.  The CIA also examined a call placed from inside the consulate after the killing by an alleged member of the Saudi hit team, Maher Mutreb.  Mutreb called Saud al-Qahtani, then one of the top aides to Mohammed, and informed him that the operation had been completed.

CIA analysts also linked some members of the Saudi hit team directly to Mohammed himself as they have served on his security team and traveled in the United States during visits by senior Saudi officials, including the crown prince.   After Khashggi disappeared on Oct 2, U.S. intelligence agencies began searching archives of intercepted communications and discovered material indicating that the Saudi royal family had been seeking to lure Khashoggi back to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb issued a statement saying that his office has indicted 11 suspects and has requested the death penalty for (5) individuals who are charged with ordering and committing the crime.  According to the office, the five members of the team “have confessed to the murder.”  The Saudi prosecutor’s office says that Khashoggi’s killers planned his death 3 days before prior to him entering the consulate and that the highest-level official behind the killing is Ahmad al-Assiri, an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Prosecutors in Connecticut and New York are considering charges of fraud and racketeering against the billionaire Sackler family, whose company Purdue Pharma produces the prescription painkiller OxyContin.  Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Purdue executives knew OxyContin was highly addictive as early as 1996, the first year after the drug hit the market, but still promoted it as less addictive than other opioids.  Many feel that Purdue Pharma planted the seeds of the opioid epidemic through its aggressive marketing of OxyContin.  The pharmaceutical giant has long claimed it was unaware of the powerful opioid painkiller’s growing abuse until years after it went on the market.

A copy of a confidential Justice Department report uncovered that federal prosecutors investigating the company found that Purdue Pharma knew about “significant” abuse of OxyContin in the first years after the drug’s introduction in 1996 and concealed that information.  Company officials had received reports that the pills were being crushed and snorted; stolen from pharmacies; and that some doctors were being charged with selling prescriptions.  In 2006, 10 years after the drug was first put on the market- federal prosecutors wrote that the drug maker continued “in the face of this knowledge” to market OxyContin as less prone to abuse and addiction than other prescription opioids.

Prosecutors found that the company’s sales representatives used the words “street value,” “crush,” or “snort” in 117 internal notes recording their visits to doctors or other medical professionals from 1997 through 1999.  The investigation cited emails showing that Purdue Pharma’s owners, Richard Sackler and founders Raymond and Mortimer Sackler, were sent reports about abuse of OxyContin and another company opioid, MS Contin.  Purdue Pharma’s general counsel, Howard R. Udell, wrote in an email in early 1999 to another company official “We have in fact picked up references to abuse of our opioid products on the internet.”  That same year, company officials learned that OxyContin was being described as “the hottest thing on the street — forget Vicodin” according to emails.  Just a year after that email exchange, Udell and other company executives testified in Congress and elsewhere that the drug maker did not learn about OxyContin’s growing abuse until early 2000, when the United States attorney in Maine issued an alert. The company still maintains that position despite evidence to the contrary.  After a four-year investigation, the prosecutors recommended that three top Purdue Pharma executives be indicted on felony charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, which could have sent the men to prison if convicted.

Instead, top Justice Department officials in the George W. Bush administration did not support the move and the government settled the case in 2007.  Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to a felony charge of “misbranding” OxyContin while marketing the drug by misrepresenting, among other things, its risk of addiction and potential to be abused. Three executives; Michael Friedman, Dr. Paul D. Goldenheim and Howard Udell, each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor “misbranding” charge that solely held them liable as Purdue Pharma’s “responsible” executives and did not accuse them of wrongdoing. The company and the executives paid a combined $634.5 million in fines and the men were required to perform community service.

Over the past two decades, more than 200,000 people have died in the US from overdoses involving prescription opioids and the epidemic was declared a Public Health Emergency in 2017.  While the Justice Department may hail the settlement as a victory, many feel the decision not to bring more serious charges and air the evidence prosecutors had gathered meant that a critical chance to slow the trajectory of the opioid epidemic was lost.

 

 

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A 26 year old security guard was shot and killed by a police officer outside a bar in the Chicago suburb of Midlothian.  Jemel Roberson was working at Manny’s Blue Room Bar, in Robbins, Illinois, when a fight broke out and security personnel asked a group of men to leave.  Soon after, at least one man returned to the bar and began shooting, injuring some of the people in the bar. Security returned fire and Roberson detained the man.

Jemel Roberson reportedly grabbed and held the suspected shooter to the ground, with his gun in his back.  When police officers from the Robbins and Midlothian police department arrived on the scene around 4am, witnesses say Roberson was immediately shot, despite people at the bar screaming that he was a security guard. According to witness statements given to local outlets, the officer fired even as witnesses were screaming that he was security.  Four other people, including a man believed to be the suspect behind the bar shooting, were injured in the incident.

At the time, Roberson was armed and held a valid gun owner’s license. One patron who witnessed the killing said the cops “saw a black man with a gun, and basically killed him.” An autopsy concluded that Roberson’s death was a homicide. Roberson was father of a 9-month-old son named Tristan; his partner, Avontea Boose, is pregnant with their second child. Roberson’s family has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million dollars, calling the fatal shooting “excessive and unreasonable” and says it violated Roberson’s civil rights.

Illinois State Police are investigating the shooting and have said that the officer gave Roberson “multiple verbal commands” to drop his weapon before opening fire. “According to witness statements, the Midlothian Officer gave the armed subject multiple verbal commands to drop the gun and get on the ground before ultimately discharging his weapon and striking the subject,” state police said in a statement.  The agency added that Roberson was not wearing anything that identified him as a security guard though witnesses say he was wearing a hat with the words SECURITY clearly emblazoned on the front as well as a bright orange vest with the words Security on it.  Multiple witnesses have also contradicted the state police account, saying the officer started firing at Roberson before giving him an adequate chance to respond to his verbal commands.

After learning that its officer had shot a security guard, the Midlothian Police Department issued a statement offering condolences to Roberson’s family and calling the shooting “the equivalent of a ‘blue on blue,’ friendly fire incident.”  Midlothian police Chief Daniel Delaney wrote on the department’s Facebook page “What we have learned is Jemel Roberson was a brave man who was doing his best to end an active shooter situation at Manny’s Blue Room.  The Midlothian Police Department is completely saddened by this tragic incident and we give our heartfelt condolences to Jemel, his family and his friends. There are no words that can be expressed as to the sorrow his family is dealing with.”

 

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Famed comic book writer Stan Lee, creator or co-creator of some of Marvel’s most well-known and beloved characters, died at the age of 95 on November 12th in Los Angeles.  Lee died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after being rushed there in a medical emergency earlier in the day.  Earlier this year, Lee revealed to the public that he had been battling pneumonia and in February was rushed to the hospital for worsening conditions at around the same time.  Lee was predeceased by his wife 0f 69 years Joan, who passed away in July 2017 at the age of 95.  He leaves behind two daughters, Joan Ceclia and Jan Lee.

Lee has been credited with helping to propel Marvel Comics to the world’s top publisher of comics.  Lee became an assistant in 1939 at the new Timely Comics division of pulp magazine and comic-book publisher Martin Goodman’s company. By the 1960’s, Timely Comics evolved into Marvel Comics and Lee rose through the ranks of a family-run business to become Marvel Comics’ primary creative leader for two decades.  He is credited with leading its expansion from a small division of a publishing house to a multimedia corporation that dominated the comics industry.

Lee became a figurehead and public face for Marvel Comics, making appearances at comic book conventions around America, lecturing at colleges and participating in panel discussions. He served as editor-in-chief and later publisher for Marvel and created or co-created the widely popular characters Black Panther, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man.  Following his retirement from Marvel in the 1990s, he remained a public figurehead for the company, and frequently made cameo appearances in movies based on Marvel characters, on which he received an honorary “executive producer” credit.

In April 2018, The Hollywood Reporter published a report claiming Lee was a victim of elder abuse.  The report alleged that Keya Morgan, business manager of Lee and a memorabilia collector, had been isolating Lee from his trusted friends and associates following his wife’s death.  The report alleges she was attempting to get access to Lee’s wealth, an estimated $50 million.  In August 2018, Morgan was issued a restraining order to stay away from Lee, his daughter, or his associates for three years.

He continued independent creative ventures until his death.  Roy Thomas, who succeeded Lee as editor-in-chief at Marvel, had visited Lee two days prior to his death to discuss the upcoming book The Stan Lee Story.  Thomas said “I think he was ready to go. But he was still talking about doing more cameos. As long as he had the energy for it and didn’t have to travel, Stan was always up to do some more cameos. He got a kick out of those more than anything else.”

 

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Twelve people are dead after a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California.  Police identified the gunman as 28-year-old Ian David Long, a Marine veteran who had deployed to Afghanistan and had a history of mental health issues.  Long was found dead inside the kitchen area of the bar when the SWAT team entered the building.  Most of the victims were college students attending country music night.  Authorities said as many as 22 people had been injured and taken to the hospital.  Nine men and three women were killed in the shooting including a 27-year-old Navy veteran who survived the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting during the Route 91 Harvest festival.

Police say that at around 11:20 p.m., Long shot security guard Sean Adler, 48, just outside the bar with a legally purchased .45-caliber Glock 21 semi-automatic pistol with a banned high-capacity magazine.  Long entered the bar and began throwing smoke bombs before firing approximately 30 rounds into the crowd of more than 150 people.  Patrons dropped to the ground, dashed under tables, hid in the bathroom and ran for exits, stepping over bodies sprawled across the floor.

Three minutes after the first 911 calls, 54 year old Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus and a California Highway Patrol officer arrived at the scene.  The officers heard gunshots coming from the building.  Helus ran inside and was immediately shot by the gunman.   The Highway Patrol Officer dragged Helus outside to safety but died from his injuries hours later.  The other victims included Cody Coffman, 22; Alaina Housley, 18; Justin Meek, 23; Daniel Manrique, 33; Noel Sparks, 21; Jake Dunham, 21; Blake Dingman, 21; Kristina Morisette, 20; Marky Meza Jr., 20 and Telemachus Orfanos, 27.  Orfanos’s family said he had survived the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival that left 58 people dead.

In fact, many regular patrons of the Borderline Bar & Grill were survivors of the Route 91 mass shooting.    A regular patron, Brendan Kelly, 22, was among those who survived both the Vegas massacre and the shooting at the Borderline.  “It was our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas. That was our safe place where we went to the following week, three nights in a row just so we could be with each other.”

Police say that Long frequented the Borderline Bar & Grill and had previous run-ins with the law, including a disturbance in April at Long’s home where he lived with his mother.  Police say he was irate and acting irrationally.  He was evaluated by mental health professionals but was cleared by the specialists.  Long served in the Marine Corps and was on active duty from August 2008 to March 2013, according to Defense Department records.  Long had been married in 2009 in Honolulu, Hawaii, but was divorced in April 2013 in Ventura County, California.

Friends of Long described him as a loner but said he was stable and didn’t show any signs of aggression.  Neighbors tell a different story, with some saying they’d frequently heard him arguing with his mother at all hours and others keeping their distance because he seemed troubled.  Police have not disclosed a motive in the shooting.

 

 

 

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A 24-year-old woman is facing 3 counts of reckless homicide and one misdemeanor count of disregarding a stop sign and causing injury after the pickup truck she was driving struck and killed three siblings who were crossing the road to get to their school bus in rural Rochester, Indiana.  Six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier Ingle and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, died at the scene Tuesday morning.  The children’s classmate and neighbor, 11-year-old Maverik Lowe, was also hit.  He was airlifted to the hospital and remains hospitalized in critical condition.  The children were crossing State Route 25 to get to their school bus when they were hit at about 7:15 a.m. in front of the Meiser mobile home park where they lived.

The Tippecanoe Valley School Corp. bus had stopped on the two lane road, lowered its stop-arm and had the emergency lighting activated just before the northbound Toyota Tacoma pickup truck slammed into the children as they crossed the southbound lane.  Alyssa L. Shepherd, of Rochester, was arrested at her workplace, was charged and released on a $15,000 bond.  Shepard told an Indiana State Police detective that she saw flashing emergency lights on the rural highway but didn’t realize it was a school bus picking up the children until it was too late.  By the time she realized a bus was stopped, the children were already in front of her vehicle.  Their father rushed out of their home and identified them after police arrived to investigate, officials said.  State Police Detective Michelle Jumper testified at a probable cause hearing into charges against Alyssa Shepherd, the bus driver told investigators he saw the oncoming truck’s headlights. The bus driver stated that because the truck was far back and had plenty of time to slow, the driver waved to the children, telling them to cross.  The bus driver honked the horn when it was clear the truck wasn’t stopping.  Jumper testified that Shepherd told her she typically did not drive on the route where the crash occurred and that she had three children in the back seat of her truck when she allegedly struck and killed the three siblings.

A witness driving behind Shepherd said she and Shepherd were traveling 45 mph. The witness said the truck’s headlights illuminated the children as they were crossing the road and she said she started to freak out as she realized ‘I’m slowing down, but that truck in front of me is not slowing.”  Shepherd remained at the scene after the crash, cooperating with investigators. She was given a blood test as is standard in all fatal crashes, but police said they do not think alcohol or drugs were a factor.  Shepard who works as children’s director at Faith Outreach, a Foursquare Gospel Church in Rochester then went to work to pray.

Parents who live in the mobile home park had previously asked the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation to change the bus route so the children didn’t have to cross State Route 25 to catch the bus. Parents complained that it was dangerous for children to cross a highway where vehicles routinely travel at 50 to 60 mph.  Elgin Ingle, the uncle of the children who died said “There’s plenty of room for the school bus to pull into the mobile home park and pick up these kids.  This school has been warned that this is an issue.  My brother is torn apart, he didn’t lose one kid, he lost all his kids,” Ingle said. “How do you tell your little brother it’ll get better? You can’t. My brother, the most loving man in the world and the best father I’ve ever known, now is a father to no one.”  Blaine Conley, superintendent of the Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation, released a statement that stating that the bus stop will be relocated from State Road 25 into the mobile home park where the children lived.

 

 

 

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A Kentucky man was charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment for killing two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store. He is being held in jail with bail set at $5 million. Police say 51-year-old Gregory Bush was captured on a surveillance camera trying to force open the doors of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown for several minutes, before turning his attention to a nearby Kroger supermarket. He was charged with killing Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, at the supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., a suburb of Louisville.

Bush allegedly walked into the Kroger, pulled a gun and shot Stallard in the back of the head, then shot him several more times. Then he went outside and killed Jones, who also died from multiple gunshot wounds.  Bush exchanged gunfire in the parking lot with an armed bystander who saw him shoot Jones.  Another armed bystander, Louisville resident Ed Harrell told reporters that as he crouched in the Kroger parking lot clutching his own revolver, the gunman walked by him and said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Prosecutors are investigating the murders as a “possible hate crime” because Bush had no known connection to either victim, or to the store, and had tried and failed to enter a nearby black church moments earlier.  Any charges related to hate crimes would be federal charges and separate from the state charges against Bush.  Officials have said they believe the crimes may fit that definition. Hate crimes are defined by the FBI as a traditional criminal offense but with an added element of bias.

Gregory Bush has a history of mental illness and of making racist slurs.  He also has a long rap sheet of misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence, for punching his father in the face and lifting his mother by her neck.   Records show he attempted suicide in 2001 and convictions for menacing and making terroristic threats.  In 2009, a judge ordered Bush to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment, after his parents claimed Bush threatened to shoot them in the head. Bush’s father said his son “carries a gun wherever he goes.” It’s not clear whether Bush’s guns were returned when the court order expired in 2011.

Jeffersontown residents gathered to honor the victims of the senseless shooting.  Maurice Stallard had served in the Air Force and married his high school sweetheart.  He worked in the security department of GE Appliances.  He is survived by his wife, a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Vickie Lee Jones was a regular churchgoer and breast cancer survivor who had retired from a veteran’s administration hospital to help care for her ailing mother.   She is survived by her mother, four children, 11 grandchildren and 5 siblings.

 

 

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is in mourning after a deadly rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood.  Robert Bowers, 46, stormed the synagogue armed with an AR-15 and at least 3 handguns yelling “All Jews must die” as he opened fire on worshipers preparing for Shabbat services.  Eleven people were killed and seven were injured, the victims ranged from 54 to 97 years in age. Officers arrived on the scene as Bowers was on his way out of the building.  He fired on police from the entryway, shooting two officers and police returned fire.

Bowers retreated back into the building and SWAT officers arrived 30 minutes later.  Swat officers entered the building and were again fired upon by the gunman. Officers returned fire and wounded him, leading him to retreat to a room on the third floor of the synagogue.  Two SWAT members were wounded in the shootout, one critically.  Almost 40 minutes after the shootout with SWAT officers, an injured Bowers crawled out of the room and surrendered.

Bowers appeared in federal court in Pittsburgh on October 29th, to hear the charges against him.   He has been charged by the US Department of Justice with 29 federal crimes.  The federal charges include eleven counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, eleven counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during a crime of violence, four counts of obstruction of exercise of religious beliefs resulting in bodily injury to a public safety officer, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence.  The crimes of violence are based upon the federal civil rights laws prohibiting hate crimes.  Bowers was also charged with 36 state criminal counts, including 11 counts of criminal homicide, 6 counts of aggravated assault, 6 counts of attempted criminal homicide and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation.  He pled not guilty and remains in the custody of the United States Marshals Service without bail pending further hearings.

Just before the shooting rampage, Robert Bowers wrote on a far-right social media site, ”HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” HIAS refers to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a humanitarian aid nonprofit group that has provided assistance to refugees for more than 130 years.  As he received medical care in police custody, he allegedly told a SWAT officer that he wanted all Jews to die, and that Jews were committing genocide against his people, according to a criminal complaint filed in Allegheny County.

Bowers attended Baldwin High School from August 1986 to November 1989 before dropping out and worked as a trucker.  Neighbors described Bowers as “a ghost” and said that he rarely interacted with others.  Officials say he was reportedly heavily involved in promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online through social media.  He had published posts supporting the white genocide theory and also stated that supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory were “deluded” and being tricked.  Other posts attacked African Americans with racial slurs and images related to lynching, and attacked women who have relationships with black men.

In the weeks before the shooting, Bowers made anti-Semitic posts directed at the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)-sponsored National Refugee Shabbat of October 19–20, in which Tree of Life participated.  He claimed that Jews were aiding members of Central American caravans moving towards the United States border and to have referred to members of those caravans as invaders.

 

 

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After weeks of denials and shifting narratives on the whereabouts of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the government of Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that Khashoggi is dead.  Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and was never seen again. Saudi officials now say Khashoggi was killed in a “fistfight” inside the consulate and that 18 Saudis had been arrested in connection with the death.

Turkish officials still maintain that Khashoggi was tortured, murdered and dismembered by a squad of 15 Saudi hit men shortly after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  They claim that audio and video recordings show Saudi officials used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body.  They maintain that it was a premeditated hit carried out by a squad of hit men and that one of the men was a forensic specialist specifically brought in to conceal the crime.

CNN aired CCTV footage obtained from the Turkish authorities, showing the Saudi agent Mustafa Mohammed Madani, a member of the 15-man team, leaving the consulate by the back door.  Madani was dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes, aside for mismatched shoes.  He had also put on a fake beard that resembled Khashoggi’s facial hair, his glasses and his Apple Watch.  Madani, who was of similar age, height, and build to Khashoggi, left the consulate from its back door and was later seen at Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, where he went to a public bathroom and changed back to his own clothes and discarded Khashoggi’s clothes.

The body double footage bolstered Turkish claims that the Saudis always intended either to kill Khashoggi or move him back to Saudi Arabia.  Anonymous Turkish officials believe that Madani was brought to Istanbul to act as a body double and that “You don’t need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation. Our assessment has not changed since October 6.  This was a premeditated murder, and the body was moved out of the consulate.”

An anonymous Saudi official claims Khashoggi had been threatened with kidnapping by Maher Mutreb and when he resisted, he was restrained with a chokehold, which killed him.  Madani then left the consulate through the back door dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes.  Khashoggi’s body was rolled up in a carpet and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal.  The official claims it was Mutreb who overstepped by threatening a kidnapping and accidental killing.  The team then filed a false report indicating they let Khashoggi leave after he warned of Turkish police interference.  The official provided Saudi documents indicating the operation was part of a wider initiative to bring expatriate dissidents home and the original plan was to keep Khashoggi in an Istanbul safe house for a period where he would be persuaded to return home or eventually released.  Many have been skeptical of their claims and still believe the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the hit.

Saudi officials again changed their story after Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said that evidence shared by Turkish officials suggests that the killing was premeditated.  They now admit that the killing was premeditated and carried out by a rogue team, still maintaining that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had no prior knowledge of the killing.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has directly accused Saudi Arabia of the premeditated murder, calling it a political killing orchestrated by Saudi officials.  Erdogan urged Saudi Arabia to disclose who ordered the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the identity of a “local cooperator” involved in the murder plot.  He also called for the Saudi suspects to be tried in Turkey.  Erdogan said Turkey has more information about the case than it has shared so far, suggesting he could release more details if the Saudis refuse to reveal vital information.