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FTR #1026 The So-Called “Arab Spring” Revisited, Part 2

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: In FTR #’s 733 through 739, we presented our view that the so-called Arab Spring was a U.S. intelligence operation, aimed at placing the Brotherhood in power in Muslim countries dominated either by a secular dictator or absolute monarchy.

Continuing analysis from our previous program, this broadcast delves further into the networking between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda. Against the background of the occupation of Idlib Province in Syria by Al-Qaeda, we highlight the apparent role of Morsi’s government and the Muslim Brotherhood in the events surrounding the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.

The overthrow of Khadafy in Libya was an outgrowth of the so-called Arab Spring, as was the precipitation of the civil war in Syria. Of particular significance is the fact that the GOP-led investigations of the Benghazi attack led directly to both the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and the decisively significant FBI tampering with the 2016 election, as well as the alleged “hack” of Hillary’s e-mails!

An Egyptian newspaper published what were said to be intercepted recordings of Morsi communicating conspiratorially with Muhammad al-Zawahiri, the the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of Al-Qaeda. Much of this checks out with information that is already on the public record.

Note the networking of GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham with Khairat El-Shater of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood while he was in prison, as well as the alleged links between the Egyptian Brotherhood and the cells involved in attacking the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

What we may well be looking at is a gambit along the lines of what has become known as the October Surprise–collusion between the Iranian Islamists and George H.W. Bush/CIA/GOP to (among other things) destabilize the Carter administration and 1980 re-election campaign.

In addition, we wonder about a deal having been struck to have Al-Qaeda fight against Bashar Assad in Syria, while avoiding attacks inside the U.S.?

Of primary focus in the material below is Khairat El-Shater (transliterated spellings of his name differ.) We emphasize key points which are repeated in the following analysis. El-Shater:

  1. Was the number two man in the Muslim Brotherhood, though not formerly a member of Morsi’s government.
  2. Networked with U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham and Khairat El-Shater (alternatively transliterated with two “t’s”), shortly after Morsi was deposed. ” . . . . It is interesting to note here that, prior to these revelations, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson was seen visiting with Khairat El-Shater—even though he held no position in the Morsi government—and after the ousting and imprisonment of Morsi and leading Brotherhood members, Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham made it a point to visit the civilian Shater in his prison cell and urged the Egyptian government to release him. . . .”
  3. Was deeply involved in mobilizing Al-Qaeda on behalf of Morsi and the Brotherhood: ” . . . . Also on that same first day of the revolution, Khairat al-Shater, Deputy Leader of the Brotherhood, had a meeting with a delegate of jihadi fighters and reiterated Morsi’s request that all jihadis come to the aid of the presidency and the Brotherhood. . . . “
  4. Was the apparent source of a $50 million contribution by the Brotherhood to Al Qaeda: ” . . . . That the Muslim Brotherhood’s international wing, including through the agency of Khairat al-Shater, had provided $50 million to al-Qaeda in part to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. . . .”
  5. Had the passport of the alleged leader of the Benghazi attack in his home when he was arrested: ” . . . . Most recently, on July 29, 2013, Ahmed Musa, a prominent Egyptian political insider and analyst made several assertions on Tahrir TV that further connected the dots. . . . Musa insisted that he had absolute knowledge that the murderer of Chris Stevens was Mohsin al-‘Azzazi, whose passport was found in Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater’s home, when the latter was arrested. . . .”
  6. Epitomized the GOP-beloved, corporatist economic ideology and lifestyle: ” . . . . Arguably the most powerful man in the Muslim Brotherhood is Khairat El-Shater, a multimillionaire tycoon whose financial interests extend into electronics, manufacturing and retail. A strong advocate of privatization, Al-Shater is one of a cadre of Muslim Brotherhood businessmen who helped finance the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s impressive electoral victory this winter and is now crafting the FJP’s economic agenda. . . . . . . . the Brotherhood’s ideology actually has more in common with America’s Republican Party than with al-Qaida. Few Americans know it but the Brotherhood is a free-market party led by wealthy businessmen whose economic agenda embraces privatization and foreign investment while spurning labor unions and the redistribution of wealth. Like the Republicans in the U.S., the financial interests of the party’s leadership of businessmen and professionals diverge sharply from those of its poor, socially conservative followers. . . .”

In the wake of overthrow of Morsi, the Egyptian government sentenced more than 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the resounding condemnation of Western countries, including the U.S. What we were not told was why. THIS appears to be why.

This broadcast begins with conclusion of reading of a key article that was featured in our last program.

Key points of analysis in discussion of the Morsi/Zawahiri/Brotherhood connection include:

  1. Muhamed Zawahiri’s promise to bolster Morsi’s government with military support, in exchange for Morsi steering Egypt in the direction of Sharia law. ” . . . . The call ended in agreement that al-Qaeda would support the Brotherhood, including its international branches, under the understanding that Morsi would soon implement full Sharia in Egypt.  After this, Muhammad Zawahiri and Khairat al-Shater, the number-two man of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, reportedly met regularly. . . .”
  2. Morsi’s agreement with Zawahiri’s proposal. ” . . . . Zawahiri further requested that Morsi allow them to develop training camps in Sinai in order to support the Brotherhood through trained militants. Along with saying that the Brotherhood intended to form a ‘revolutionary guard’ to protect him against any coup, Morsi added that, in return for al-Qaeda’s and its affiliates’ support, not only would he allow them to have such training camps, but he would facilitate their development in Sinai and give them four facilities to use along the Egyptian-Libyan border. . . .”
  3. The networking between U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham and Khairat El-Shater (alternatively transliterated with two “t’s”), shortly after Morsi was deposed. ” . . . . It is interesting to note here that, prior to these revelations, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson was seen visiting with Khairat El-Shater—even though he held no position in the Morsi government—and after the ousting and imprisonment of Morsi and leading Brotherhood members, Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham made it a point to visit the civilian Shater in his prison cell and urged the Egyptian government to release him. . . .”
  4. Note that Morsi sanctioned and Brotherhood-aided Al-Qaeda militants were apparently involved in the Behghazi attacks that led to the Benghazi investigation, the Hillary e-mails non-scandal and all that followed: ” . . . . According to a Libyan Arabic report I translated back in June 2013, those who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were from jihadi cells that had been formed in Libya through Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood support.  Those interrogated named Morsi and other top Brotherhood leadership as accomplices. . . . “
  5. Khairat El-Shater was deeply involved in mobilizing Al-Qaeda on behalf of Morsi and the Brotherhood: ” . . . . Also on that same first day of the revolution, Khairat al-Shater, Deputy Leader of the Brotherhood, had a meeting with a delegate of jihadi fighters and reiterated Morsi’s request that all jihadis come to the aid of the presidency and the Brotherhood. . . . “
  6. Khairat El-Shater was the apparent source of a $50 million contribution by the Brotherhood to Al Qaeda: ” . . . . That the Muslim Brotherhood’s international wing, including through the agency of Khairat al-Shater, had provided $50 million to al-Qaeda in part to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. . . .”

Next, we highlight another important article from Raymond Ibrahim about the Morsi/Al-Qaeda connection to the Benghazi attack. Supplementing the information about networking between U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Khairat al-Shater, we note that:

  1. The Benghazi attackers were apparently linked to Morsi and the Brotherhood: ” . . . . days after the Benghazi attack back in September 2012, Muslim Brotherhood connections appeared.  A video made during the consulate attack records people approaching the beleaguered U.S. compound; one of them yells to the besiegers in an Egyptian dialect, ‘Don’t shoot—Dr. Morsi sent us!’ apparently a reference to the former Islamist president. . . .”
  2. The passport of the alleged leader of the Benghazi attack was found in the home of McCain/Graham contact Kharat al-Shater’s home when he was arrested: ” . . . . Most recently, on July 29, 2013, Ahmed Musa, a prominent Egyptian political insider and analyst made several assertions on Tahrir TV that further connected the dots. . . . Musa insisted that he had absolute knowledge that the murderer of Chris Stevens was Mohsin al-‘Azzazi, whose passport was found in Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater’s home, when the latter was arrested. . . .”
  3. The attack on the U.S. Embassy may well have been intended to take Chris Stevens hostage, in order to use him as potential barter for the Blind Sheikh: ” . . . . The day before the embassy attacks, based on little known but legitimate Arabic reports, I wrote an article titled ‘Jihadis Threaten to Burn U.S. Embassy in Cairo,’ explaining how Islamists—including al-Qaeda—were threatening to attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo unless the notorious Blind Sheikh—an Islamist hero held in prison in the U.S. in connection to the first World Trade Center bombing—was released.  The date September 11 was also deliberately chosen to attack the embassy to commemorate the ‘heroic’ September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda strikes on America. . . .”
  4. The United States: ” . . . . first with Anne Patterson, and now with Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, keep pressuring Egypt to release Brotherhood leaders; McCain personally even visited the civilian El-Shater, whose raided home revealed the passport of Azzazi, whom Musa claims is the murderer of Stevens. . . .”

Following the Benghazi discussion, we recap an article about the Brotherhood and apparent Al-Qaeda/Benghazi collaborator Khairat El-Shater, noting the powerful resonance between his and the Muslim Brotherhood’s values and those of the GOP and the corporate community:

  1. ” . . . . the Brotherhood’s ideology actually has more in common with America’s Republican Party than with al-Qaida. Few Americans know it but the Brotherhood is a free-market party led by wealthy businessmen whose economic agenda embraces privatization and foreign investment while spurning labor unions and the redistribution of wealth. Like the Republicans in the U.S., the financial interests of the party’s leadership of businessmen and professionals diverge sharply from those of its poor, socially conservative followers. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Arguably the most powerful man in the Muslim Brotherhood is Khairat El-Shater, a multimillionaire tycoon whose financial interests extend into electronics, manufacturing and retail. A strong advocate of privatization, Al-Shater is one of a cadre of Muslim Brotherhood businessmen who helped finance the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s impressive electoral victory this winter and is now crafting the FJP’s economic agenda. . . .”

We conclude with information about the training of activists in high-tech and social media in order to launch the Arab Spring.

In a remarkable and very important new book, Yasha Levine has highlighted the role of U.S. tech personnel in training and prepping the Arab Spring online activists.

Note while reading the following excerpts of this remarkable and important book, that:

  1. The Tor network was developed by, and used and compromised by, elements of U.S. intelligence.
  2. One of the primary advocates and sponsors of the Tor network is the Broadcasting Board of Governors. As we saw in FTR #’s 891, 895, is an extension of the CIA.
  3. Jacob Appelbaum has been financed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, advocates use of the Tor network, has helped WikiLeaks with its extensive use of the Tor network, and is a theoretical accolyte of Ayn Rand.

1. An Egyptian newspaper published what were said to be intercepted recordings of Morsi communicating conspiratorially with Muhammad al-Zawahiri, the the brother of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of Al-Qaeda. Much of this checks out with information that is already on the public record. Note the networking of GOP Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham with Khairat El-Shater of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood while he was in prison, as well as the alleged links between the Egyptian Brotherhood and the cells involved in attacking the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

In the wake of overthrow of Morsi, the Egyptian government sentenced more than 500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the resounding condemnation of Western countries, including the U.S. What we were not told was why. THIS appears to be why.

Note the profound connection between the Muslim Brotherhood government of Morsi and Al Qaeda.

“Exposed: The Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda Connection” by Raymond Ibrahim; Raymond Ibrahim: Islam Translated; 2/4/2014.

. . . . Concerning some of the more severe allegations, one of Egypt’s most widely distributed and read newspapers, Al Watan, recently published what it said were recorded conversations between Morsi and Muhammad Zawahiri, al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri’s brother.

In these reports, Watan repeatedly asserts that Egyptian security and intelligence agencies confirmed (or perhaps leaked out) the recordings.

Much of the substance of the alleged conversations is further corroborated by events that occurred during Morsi’s one-year-rule, most of which were reported by a variety of Arabic media outlets, though not by Western media.

In what follows, I relay, summarize, and translate some of the more significant portions of the Watan reports (verbatim statements are in quotation marks).  In between, I comment on various anecdotes and events—many of which were first broken on my website—that now, in light of these phone conversations, make perfect sense and independently help confirm the authenticity of the recordings.

The first recorded call  between Muhammad Morsi  and  Muhammad Zawahiri lasted for 59 seconds. Morsi congratulated Zawahiri on his release from prison, where he had been incarcerated for jihadi/terrorist activities against Egypt, and assured him that he would not be followed or observed by any Egyptian authorities, and that he, Morsi, was planning on meeting with him soon.  Prior to this first call, Refa’ al-Tahtawy, then Chief of Staff, mediated and arranged matters.

The presidential palace continued to communicate regularly with Muhammad Zawahiri, and sources confirm that he was the link between the Egyptian presidency and his brother, Ayman Zawahiri, the Egyptian-born leader of al-Qaeda.

It should be noted that, once released, the previously little-known Muhammad Zawahiri did become very visible and vocal in Egypt, at times spearheading the Islamist movement.

The next recording between Morsi and Zawahiri lasted for 2 minutes and 56 seconds and took place one month after Morsi became president.  Morsi informed Zawahiri that the Muslim Brotherhood supports the mujahidin (jihadis) and that the mujahidin should support the Brotherhood in order for them both, and the Islamist agenda, to prevail in Egypt.

This makes sense in the context that, soon after Morsi came to power, the general public did become increasingly critical of him and his policies, including the fact that he was placing only Brotherhood members in Egypt’s most important posts, trying quickly to push through a pro-Islamist constitution, and, as Egyptians called it, trying in general to “Brotherhoodize” Egypt.

This second phone call being longer than the first, Zawahiri took it as an opportunity to congratulate Morsi on his recent presidential victory—which, incidentally, from the start, was portrayed by some as fraudulent—and expressed his joy that Morsi’s presidency could only mean that “all secular infidels would be removed from Egypt.”

Then Zawahiri told Morsi: “Rule according to the Sharia of Allah [or “Islamic law”], and we will stand next to you.  Know that, from the start, there is no so-called democracy, so get rid of your opposition.”

This assertion comports extremely well with his brother Ayman Zawahiri’s views.  A former Muslim Brotherhood member himself, some thirty years ago, the al-Qaeda leader wrote Al Hissad Al Murr (“The Bitter Harvest”), a scathing book condemning the Brotherhood for “taking advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by … steer[ing] their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections.” An entire section dedicated to showing that Islamic Sharia cannot coexist with democracy even appears in Ayman Zawahiri’s book (see “Sharia and Democracy,” The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 116-136).

The call ended in agreement that al-Qaeda would support the Brotherhood, including its international branches, under the understanding that Morsi would soon implement full Sharia in Egypt.  After this, Muhammad Zawahiri and Khairat al-Shater, the number-two man of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, reportedly met regularly.

It is interesting to note here that, prior to these revelations, U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson was seen visiting with Khairat al-Shater—even though he held no position in the Morsi government—and after the ousting and imprisonment of Morsi and leading Brotherhood members, Sens. John McCain and Lindsay Graham made it a point to visit the civilian Shater in his prison cell and urged the Egyptian government to release him.

The next call, recorded roughly six weeks after this last one, again revolved around the theme of solidifying common cooperation between the Egyptian presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and al-Qaeda and its jihadi offshoots on the other, specifically in the context of creating jihadi cells inside Egypt devoted to protecting the increasingly unpopular Brotherhood-dominated government.

As I reported back in December 2012, Egyptian media were saying that foreign jihadi fighters were appearing in large numbers—one said 3,000 fighters—especially in Sinai.  And, since the overthrow of the Brotherhood and the military crackdown on its supporters, many of those detained have been exposed speaking non-Egyptian dialects of Arabic.

During this same call, Zawahiri was also critical of the Morsi government for still not applying Islamic Sharia throughout Egypt, which, as mentioned, was one of the prerequisites for al-Qaeda support.

Morsi responded by saying “We are currently in the stage of consolidating power and need the help of all parties—and we cannot at this time apply the Iranian model or Taliban rule in Egypt; it is impossible to do so now.”

In fact, while the Brotherhood has repeatedly declared its aspirations for world domination, from its origins, it has always relied on a “gradual” approach, moving only in stages, with the idea of culminating its full vision only when enough power has been consolidated.

In response, Zawahiri told Morsi that, as a show of good will, he must “at least release the mujahidin who were imprisoned during the Mubarak era as well as all Islamists, as an assurance and pact of cooperation and proof that the old page has turned to a new one.”

After that call, and as confirmed by a governmental source, Morsi received a list from Zawahiri containing the names of the most dangerous terrorists in Egyptian jails, some of whom were on death row due to the enormity of their crimes.

In fact, as I reported back in August 2012, many imprisoned terrorists, including from Egypt’s notorious Islamic Jihad organization—which was once led by Ayman Zawahiri—were released under Morsi.

One year later, in August 2013, soon after the removal of Morsi, Egypt’s Interior Ministry announced that Egypt was “preparing to cancel any presidential pardons issued during Morsi’s era to terrorists or criminals.”

During this same call, and in the context of pardons, Morsi said he would do his best to facilitate the return of Muhammad’s infamous brother and al-Qaeda leader, Ayman Zawahiri, back to Egypt—“with his head held high,” in accordance with Islamist wishes—as well as urge the U.S. to release the “Blind Sheikh” and terrorist mastermind, Omar Abdul Rahman.

In March 2013, I wrote about how Morsi, during his Pakistan visit, had reportedly met with Ayman Zawahiri  and made arrangements to smuggle him back to Sinai.  According to a Pakistan source, the meeting was “facilitated by elements of Pakistani intelligence [ISI] and influential members of the International Organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The gist of the next two calls between Morsi and Muhammad Zawahiri was that, so long as the former is president, he would see to it that all released jihadis and al-Qaeda operatives are allowed to move freely throughout Egypt and the Sinai, and that the presidential palace would remain in constant contact with Zawahiri, to make sure everything is moving to the satisfaction of both parties.

Zawahiri further requested that Morsi allow them to develop training camps in Sinai in order to support the Brotherhood through trained militants. Along with saying that the Brotherhood intended to form a “revolutionary guard” to protect him against any coup, Morsi added that, in return for al-Qaeda’s and its affiliates’ support, not only would he allow them to have such training camps, but he would facilitate their development in Sinai and give them four facilities to use along the Egyptian-Libyan border.

That Libya is mentioned is interesting.  According to a Libyan Arabic report I translated back in June 2013, those who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, killing Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were from jihadi cells that had been formed in Libya through Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood support.  Those interrogated named Morsi and other top Brotherhood leadership as accomplices.

More evidence—including some that implicates the U.S. administration—has mounted since then.

Next, Watan makes several more assertions, all of which are preceded by “according to security/intelligence agencies.”  They are:

  • That Morsi did indeed as he promised, and that he facilitated the establishment of four jihadi training camps.  Morsi was then Chief in Command of Egypt’s Armed Forces, and through his power of authority, stopped the military from launching any operations including in the by now al-Qaeda overrun Sinai.
  • That, after Morsi reached Pakistan, he had a one-and-a-half hour meeting with an associate of Ayman Zawahiri in a hotel and possibly spoke with him.
  • That, after Morsi returned to Egypt from his trip to Pakistan, he issued another  list containing the names of 20 more convicted terrorists considered dangerous to the national security of Egypt, giving them all presidential pardons—despite the fact that national security and intelligence strongly recommended that they not be released on grounds of the threat they posed.
  • That the Muslim Brotherhood’s international wing, including through the agency of Khairat al-Shater, had provided $50 million to al-Qaeda in part to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

One of the longer conversations between Morsi and Zawahiri reported by Watan is especially telling of al-Qaeda’s enmity for secularist Muslims and Coptic Christians—whose churches, some 80, were attacked, burned, and destroyed, some with the al-Qaeda flag furled above them, soon after the ousting of Morsi.  I translate portions below:

Zawahiri: “The teachings of Allah need to be applied and enforced; the secularists have stopped the Islamic Sharia, and the response must be a stop to the building of churches.” (An odd assertion considering how difficult it already is for Copts to acquire a repair permit for their churches in Egypt.)

Zawahiri also added that “All those who reject the Sharia must be executed, and all those belonging to the secular media which work to disseminate debauchery and help deviants and Christians to violate the Sharia, must be executed.”

Morsi reportedly replied: “We have taken deterrent measures to combat those few, and new legislative measures to limit their media, and in the near future, we will shut down these media stations and launch large Islamic media outlets.  We are even planning a big budget from the [Brotherhood] International Group  to launch Islamic and jihadi satellite stations  to urge on the jihad. There will be a channel for you and the men of al-Qaeda, and it can be broadcast from Afghanistan.”

Undeterred, Zawahiri responded by saying, “This [is a] Christian media—and some of the media personnel are paid by the [Coptic] Church and they work with those who oppose the Sharia… secularist forces are allied with Christian forces, among them Naguib Sawiris, the Christian-Jew.”

Morsi: “Soon we will uphold our promises to you.”

In fact, there was a period of time when the secular media in Egypt—which was constantly exposing Brotherhood machinations—were under severe attack by the Brotherhood and Islamists of all stripes (comedian Bassem Youssef was the tip of the iceberg).  In one instance, which I noted back in August 2012, six major media stations were attacked by Brotherhood supporters, their employees severely beat.

The last call recorded between Muhammad Morsi and Muhammad Zawahiri took place on the dawn of June 30, 2013 (the date of the June 30 Revolution that ousted Morsi and the Brotherhood).  Morsi made the call to Zawahiri in the presence of Asad al-Sheikha, Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff, Refa’ al-Tahtawy, Chief of Presidential Staff, and his personal security.

During this last call, Morsi incited Zawahiri to rise against the Egyptian military in Sinai and asked Zawahiri to compel all jihadi and loyalist elements everywhere to come to the aid of the Muslim Brotherhood and neutralize its opponents.

Zawahiri reportedly responded by saying “We will fight the military and the police, and we will set the Sinai aflame.

True enough, as I reported on July 4, quoting from an Arabic report: “Al-Qaeda, under the leadership of Muhammad Zawahiri, is currently planning reprisal operations by which to attack the army and the Morsi-opposition all around the Republic [of Egypt].”  The report added that, right before the deposing of Morsi, Zawahiri had been arrested and was being interrogated—only to be ordered released by yet another presidential order, and that he  had since fled to the Sinai.

Also on that same first day of the revolution, Khairat al-Shater, Deputy Leader of the Brotherhood, had a meeting with a delegate of jihadi fighters and reiterated Morsi’s request that all jihadis come to the aid of the presidency and the Brotherhood.

As Morsi’s trial continues, it’s only a matter of time before the truth of these allegations—and their implications for the U.S.—is known.  But one thing is certain: most of them comport incredibly well with incidents and events that took place under Morsi’s government.

2. A follow-up article by Ibrahim discusses the Benghazi attack in detail, implicating the Muslim Brotherhood and Khairet El-Shater.

“Behind Bengazi: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration” by Raymond Ibrahim; Raymond Ibrahim.com; 8/16/2013.

Evidence that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood was directly involved in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where Americans including U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens were killed, continues to mount.

First, on June 26, 2013, I produced and partially translated what purported to be an internal Libyan governmental memo which was leaked and picked up by many Arabic websites.  According to this document, the Muslim Brotherhood, including now ousted President Morsi, played a direct role in the Benghazi consulate attack. “Based on confessions derived from some of those arrested at the scene,” asserted the report, six people, “all of them Egyptians” from the jihad group Ansar al-Sharia (Supporters of Islamic Law), were arrested.  During interrogations, these Egyptian jihadi cell members: confessed to very serious and important information concerning the financial sources of the group and the planners of the event and the storming and burning of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi…. And among the more prominent figures whose names were mentioned by cell members during confessions were: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi; preacher Safwat Hegazi; Saudi businessman Mansour Kadasa, owner of the satellite station, Al-Nas; Egyptian Sheikh Muhammad Hassan; former presidential candidate, Hazim Salih Abu Isma’il…

Four days after this memo appeared, the military-backed June 30 Egyptian revolution took place.  Many of the Islamists in the Libyan document have either been arrested—including Safwat Hegazi and Abu Isma’il—or have arrest warrants under terrorism charges.

Walid Shoebat followed up with some important investigative work concerning the Libyan document, including by documenting that Western sources had finally acknowledged that there is a group called Ansar al-Sharia operating in Egypt with a cell in Libya, and that, with the ouster of Muhammad Morsi, it (along with al-Qaeda) had declared jihad on Egypt’s military (not to mention regular civilians in general, and Coptic Christiansin particular).

The fact is, days after the Benghazi attack back in September 2012, Muslim Brotherhood connections appeared.  A video made during the consulate attack records people approaching the beleaguered U.S. compound; one of them yells to the besiegers in an Egyptian dialect, “Don’t shoot—Dr. Morsi sent us!” apparently a reference to the former Islamist president.

Most recently, on July 29, 2013, Ahmed Musa, a prominent Egyptian political insider and analyst made several assertions on Tahrir TV that further connected the dots.  During his program, while berating U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson for her many pro-Brotherhood policies—policies that have earned her the hate and contempt of millions of Egyptians—Musa insisted that he had absolute knowledge that the murderer of Chris Stevens was Mohsin al-‘Azzazi, whose passport was found in Brotherhood leader Khairat El-Shater’s home, when the latter was arrested. According to the firm assurances of political analyst Musa, ‘Azzazi is currently present in Raba‘a al-Adawiya, where he, the seasoned terrorist, is preparing to do what he does best—terrorize Egypt, just as the Brotherhood have promised, in revenge for the ousting of Morsi.

But why would Morsi and the Brotherhood attack the consulate in Libya in the first place?  The day before the embassy attacks, based on little known but legitimate Arabic reports, I wrote an article titled “Jihadis Threaten to Burn U.S. Embassy in Cairo,” explaining how Islamists—including al-Qaeda—were threatening to attack the U.S. embassy in Cairo unless the notorious Blind Sheikh—an Islamist hero held in prison in the U.S. in connection to the first World Trade Center bombing—was released.  The date September 11 was also deliberately chosen to attack the embassy to commemorate the “heroic” September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda strikes on America.  (Regardless, the Obama administration, followed by the so-called mainstream media, portrayed the embassy attacks as unplanned reactions to an offensive movie.)

The theory is this: in order to negotiate the release of the Blind Sheikh, the Islamists needed an important American official to barter in exchange.  And while the violence on U.S. embassies began in Egypt, it seemed logical that kidnapping an American official from neighboring Libya would be less conspicuous than in Egypt, where Egyptians, including Morsi, were calling for the release of the Egyptian Blind Sheikh.   Thus the U.S. consulate in Libya was attacked, Chris Stevens kidnapped, but in the botched attempt, instead of becoming a valuable hostage, he wound up dead.

Add to all this the fact that, despite the very serious charges filed against them—including inciting murder and terrorism, and grand treason—the Obama administration, first with Anne Patterson, and now with Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, keep pressuring Egypt to release Brotherhood leaders; McCain personally even visited the civilian El-Shater, whose raided home revealed the passport of Azzazi, whom Musa claims is the murderer of Stevens.

Needless to say, at this point, tens of millions of Egyptians are convinced that U.S. leadership is fully aware of the Brotherhood’s connection to Benghazi—and hence desperately pushing for the release of Brotherhood leadership, lest, when they are tried in Egypt’s courts, all these scandals become common knowledge.

Meanwhile in the United States, to a mainstream American public—conditioned as it is by a mainstream media—all of the above is just a “conspiracy theory,” since surely the U.S. government is transparent with the American people—except, that is, when it’s not.

3. More about the corporatist economic philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood follows. Note that Khairat el-Shater was alleged by Egyptian intelligence to have been running Mohamed Morsi, in effect. (We covered this in FTR #787.) In turn, he was reported to be serving as a liaison between Morsi and Mohamed Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. Shater was also networked with: Anne Patterson, U.S. ambassador to Egypt, GOP Senator John McCain and GOP Senator Lindsay Graham. In turn, Shater was alleged to have transferred $50 million from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to Al-Qaeda at the time that he was networking with the Americans and Morsi. Hey, what’s $50 million between friends?

“The GOP Brotherhood of Egypt” by Avi Asher-Schapiro; Salon.com; 1/25/2012.

While Western alarmists often depict Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood as a shadowy organization with terrorist ties, the Brotherhood’s ideology actually has more in common with America’s Republican Party than with al-Qaida. Few Americans know it but the Brotherhood is a free-market party led by wealthy businessmen whose economic agenda embraces privatization and foreign investment while spurning labor unions and the redistribution of wealth. Like the Republicans in the U.S., the financial interests of the party’s leadership of businessmen and professionals diverge sharply from those of its poor, socially conservative followers.

The Brotherhood, which did not initially support the revolution that began a year ago, reaped its benefits, capturing nearly half the seats in the new parliament, which was seated this week, and vaulting its top leaders into positions of power.

Arguably the most powerful man in the Muslim Brotherhood is Khairat El-Shater, a multimillionaire tycoon whose financial interests extend into electronics, manufacturing and retail. A strong advocate of privatization, Al-Shater is one of a cadre of Muslim Brotherhood businessmen who helped finance the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party’s impressive electoral victory this winter and is now crafting the FJP’s economic agenda.

At El-Shater’s luxury furniture outlet Istakbal, a new couch costs about 6,000 Egyptian pounds, about $1,000 in U.S. currency. In a country where 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, Istakbal’s clientele is largely limited to Egypt’s upper classes.

Although the Brothers do draw significant support from Egypt’s poor and working class, “the Brotherhood is a firmly upper-middle-class organization in its leadership,” says Shadi Hamid, a leading Muslim Brotherhood expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Not surprisingly, these well-to-do Egyptians are eager to safeguard their economic position in the post-Mubarak Egypt. Despite rising economic inequality and poverty, the Brotherhood does not back radical changes in Egypt’s economy.

The FJP’s economic platform is a tame document, rife with promises to root out corruption and tweak Egypt’s tax and subsidies systems, with occasional allusions to an unspecific commitment to “social justice.” The platform praises the mechanisms of the free market and promises that the party will work for “balanced, sustainable and comprehensive economic development.” It is a program that any European conservative party could get behind. . . .

4. In a remarkable and very important new book, Yasha Levine has highlighted the role of U.S. tech personnel in training and prepping the Arab Spring online activists.

Note while reading the following excerpts of this remarkable and important book, that:

  1. The Tor network was developed by, and used and compromised by, elements of U.S. intelligence.
  2. One of the primary advocates and sponsors of the Tor network is the Broadcasting Board of Governors. As we saw in FTR #’s 891, 895, is an extension of the CIA.
  3. Jacob Appelbaum has been financed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, advocates use of the Tor network, has helped WikiLeaks with its extensive use of the Tor network, and is a theoretical accolyte of Ayn Rand.

Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine; Copyright 2018 by Yasha Levine; Public Affairs Hatchette Book Group [HC]; ISBN 978-1-61039-802-2; pp. 248-250.

. . . . Within weeks, massive antigovernment protests spread to Egypt, Algeria, Oman, Jordan, Libya, and Syria. The Arab Spring had arrived.

In Tunisia and Egypt, these protest movements toppled long-standing dictatorships from within. In Libya, opposition forces deposed and savagely killed Muammar Gaddafi, knifing him in the anus, after an extensive bombing campaign from NATO forces. In Syria, protests were met with a brutal crackdown from Bashar Assad’s government, and led to a protracted war that would claim hundreds of thousands of lives and trigger the worst refugee crisis in recent history, pulling in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, the CIA, the Russian Air Force and special operations teams, Al-Qaeda, and ISIL. Arab Spring turned into a long, bloody winter. . . .

. . . . The idea that social media could be weaponized against countries and governments deemed hostile to US interests wasn’t a surprise. For years, the State Department, in partnership with the Broadcasting Board of Governors and companies like Facebook and Google, had worked to train activists from around the world on how to use Internet tools and social media to organize opposition political movements. Countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America as well as former Soviet sites like the Ukraine and Belarus were all on the list. Indeed, the New York Times reported that many of the activists who played leading roles in the Arab Spring–from Egypt to Syria to Yemen–had taken part in these training sessions.

“The money spent on these programs was minute compared with efforts led by the Pentagon,” reported the New York Times in April of 2011. “But as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in Campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.” The trainings were politically charged and were seen as a threat by Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain–all of which lodged complaints with the State Department to stop meddling in their domestic affairs, and even barred US officials from entering their countries.

An Egyptian youth political leader who attended State Department training sessions and then went on to led protests in Cairo told the New York Times, “We learned how to organize and build coalitions. This certainly helped during the revolution.” A different youth activist, who had participated in Yemen’s uprising, was equally enthusiastic about the State Department social media training: “It helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons.”

Staff from the Tor Project played a role in some of these trainings, taking part in a series of Arab Blogger sessions in Yemen, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, and Bahrain, where Jacob Appelbaum taught opposition activists how to use Tor to get around government censorship. “Today was fantastic . . . . really a fantastic meeting of minds in the Arab world! It’s enlightening and humbling to have ben invited. I really have to recommend visiting Beirut. Lebanon is an amazing place. . . . Appelbaum tweeted after an Arab Bloggers training event in 2009, adding”IF you’d like to help Tor please sign up and help translate Tor software in Arabic.”

Activists later put the skills taught at these training sessions to use during the Arab Spring, routing around Internet blocks that their governments threw up to prevent them from using social media to organize protests. “There would be no access to Twitter or Facebook in some of these places if you didn’t have Tor. All of the sudden, you had all these dissidents exploding under their noses, and then down the road you had a revolution,” Nasser Weddady, a prominent Arab Spring activist from Mauritania, later told Rolling Stone. Weddady, who had taken part in the Tor Project’s training sessions and who had translated a widely circulated guide on how to use the tool into Arabic, credited it with helping keep the Arab Spring uprisings alive. “Tor rendered the government’s efforts completely futile. They simply didn’t have the know-how to counter that move.” . . . .

 

 

Discussion

7 comments for “FTR #1026 The So-Called “Arab Spring” Revisited, Part 2”

  1. Yasha Levine’s book was eye-opening, in many ways compatible with the excellent work you’ve been doing on technocratic fascism.

    Specifically with regards to Jacob Applebaum and Libya, on social media (specifically Twitter) Applebaum openly bragged about deliberately launching cyber attacks on Libya from February 2011 throughout the war. (See image for a summary, credit to “@UmfuldCares” https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DoloqP_UwAAeatM.jpg)

    Much of his publicly-hinted exploits may have been false or even deliberate deception in themselves, but in any event the implications are extremely disturbing. Wikileaks is a pro-Western far-right extremist operation masquerading as exactly the opposite of what it actually is!

    Posted by Richard Schroeder | October 5, 2018, 8:30 pm
  2. The donors list of the Alternative Influencers Network (hit piece) Report Is like seeing all the people Dave talks about in one place.

    Posted by Ken Lee | October 8, 2018, 9:05 pm
  3. As the mystery of the disappearance, and likely murder, of the missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi continues to roil Washington, here’s an interesting WSJ article that describes the nature of Khashoggi’s dissident views. And, surprise!, it sounds like Khashoggi was a long-time Saudi insider with views that were broadly aligned with the Saudi monarchy. He was a scion of a prominent Saudi family and embraced the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired political Islam ideology in his youth.

    As a journalist, he traveled to Afghanistan during the 80’s and became the first Arab journalist to interview Osama bin Laden. During the 90’s, he would report from across the Middle East and was removed as editor of a leading Saudi daily, Al Watan, three times for his relatively dissenting views like as criticizing the religious establishment.

    And yet he remained close to the Saudi establishment during this period as a dissident Saudi journalist, including being a friend of the billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal and working as an advisor for Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence, during the prince’s time as ambassador to the U.K. and the U.S. Al-Faisal became ambassador to the UK in 2003 and succeeded Prince Bandar as the ambassador to the US in 2005. Keep in mind that close ties to Saudi intelligence chief and the Muslim Brotherhood in the later 1990’s/early 2000’s places Khashoggi in a rather interesting spot regarding the 9/11 attacks and the role Saudi intelligence and the Muslim Brotherhood played in financing, executing, and covering up those attacks.

    As we’re going to see in the second article below, Khashoggi was apparently close to Khaled Saffuri. Recall how Saffuri co-founded the Islamic Free Market Institute with Grover Norquist and how Saffuri attended the 2003 meeting in the Bush White House when the investigation into Bank al-Taqwa and its role in the 9/11 attacks was interceded and thwarted.

    Khashoggi’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood appears to be the fatal line he crossed. He held the view that democracy in the Muslim world was inseparable from political Islam and that the drive by the Saudi monarchy to crush the Muslim Brotherhood represented a campaign against democracy in general in the Muslim world. On August 28, he wrote, “The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes…There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it.” So from Khashoggi’s standpoint, the only acceptable form of democracy is the Muslim Brotherhood form of democracy. But as we’ve seen places like Turkey – where Erdogan is making a mockery of Turkery’s democracy – and Egypt – where the Muslim Brotherhood-led Morsi government was in the process of radically corrupting Egypt’s fledgling democracy and turning it into a state run by an Islamist high court before the military retook power – the reality is that democracy in the Muslim world is incompatible with a crypt-fascist authoritarian movement like the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Khashoggi was also close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood-led government. He knew Erdogan personally and was a friend to some of Erdogan’s closest advisers. This probably helps explain Turkey’s extreme public anger in response to Khashoggi’s murder.

    It wasn’t until the rise of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) as the de fact head of the Saudi government that Khashoggi truly considered fleeing his country. Recall that that people as powerful as Prince Alwaleed bin Talal were arrested in ‘anti-corruption’ mass arrests last year, so it’s not like Khashoggi didn’t have reasons to fear arrest himself despite his decades of being a tolerated critic of the Saudi regime. Interestingly, it sounds like it was Khashoggi’s criticisms of President Trump after the 2016 elections, during the period when the Saudi government was buttering Trump up for better relations, that led to the MBS government banning Khashoggi from speaking publicly. It was following this ban from speaking that Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia. It was after leaving that he became an opinion writer for the Washington Post.

    Khashoggi was also apparently planning on some sort of pro-democracy drive for the Arab world and formed an organization, Democracy for the Arab World Now, in early 2018. So when we trying to understand why it is that the Saudi government thought the brazen kidnapping and murder on foreign soil of one of its more prominent critics, it’s going to be important to keep in mind that the Saudi regime may have seen Khashoggi as the likely leader of an upcoming regime change operation against them. It points to the multi-dimensional tragedy of the situation: it’s tragic this guy was murdered by his government for being a dissident. It’s especially tragic that he was a dissident who appeared to be gearing up for a possible regime change campaign against a regime that most assuredly deserves to be overthrown. But perhaps the most tragic part is that it was going to be a ‘pro-democracy’ movement dedicated to installing the crypto-fascist Muslim Brotherhood in power under the guise of being ‘pro-democracy’:

    The Wall Street Journal

    Missing Journalist Was an Insider Willing to Cross Saudi Red Lines
    Jamal Khashoggi rankled authorities with socially liberal views and sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood

    By Margherita Stancati in Beirut and
    Nancy A. Youssef in Washington
    Oct. 12, 2018 4:33 p.m. ET

    The mystery surrounding Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, has drawn scrutiny to the Saudi government’s efforts to silence critics at home and abroad.

    But Mr. Khashoggi’s case is more complicated.

    While he had become known as a dissident writer in recent years, he was a longtime insider who remained close to some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful princes.

    One of the country’s best-known journalists, he clashed with the clerical establishment for his socially liberal views. His sympathy for democratic movements drew the ire of the Saudi government, particularly for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the royal family views as a threat to its absolute monarchy.

    The rise of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the crackdown he oversaw against dissidents ranging from clerics to women’s rights activists, pitted Mr. Khashoggi against the establishment that had long tolerated him, and ultimately he decided to leave for the U.S. last year.

    Fellow Saudis implored him to return with a mixture of blunt intimidation and subtle flattery he suspected was a trap. Saudi officials told him that his views were valued, and that he could contribute to the monarchy’s new vision—maybe even work with the government, according to his friends who recounted these conversations. Pro-Saudi government Twitter users hounded him, branding him a traitor.

    “Your end will be painful, Mr. Jamal,” one Twitter user told him in March.

    Turkish officials now suspect Mr. Khashoggi was murdered by a Saudi intelligence hit squad in the consulate the day he visited. The Saudi government has denied the accusation, and claimed Mr. Khashoggi left the building shortly after he entered it. Representatives for the Saudi government didn’t respond to requests for comment for this article.

    The journalist, who was 59 when he disappeared, had believed he was safe in Istanbul. “He trusted Turkey even more than the U.S.,” said a Saudi friend of Mr. Khashoggi.

    Mr. Khashoggi was close to the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ties with Saudi Arabia had become increasingly strained in recent years. Turkey backed Qatar in its diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia last year, and like Qatar, Turkey also differs with Saudi Arabia over its view of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Mr. Khashoggi knew President Erdogan personally and was a friend to some of his closest advisers, say people who knew him. During a conference in Turkey this past spring, he met Hatice Cengiz, a Ph.D. student. Over the summer they agreed to marry.

    For most of his life, Mr. Khashoggi’s views broadly aligned with those of the Saudi establishment. A scion of a prominent Saudi family, he embraced in his youth the wave of Islamist fervor that swept the kingdom and was influenced by Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

    He traveled to Afghanistan as a journalist, where he became the first Arab journalist to interview Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s. “A lot of them went to fight. He went to report,” said Peter Bergen, an American journalist and academic who knew Mr. Khashoggi.

    In the 1990s, he reported from across the Middle East, where he became acquainted with different schools of political Islam. He was removed three times as editor of a leading Saudi daily, Al Watan, for crossing red lines, such as criticizing the religious establishment.

    Through it all, he maintained close ties to some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful princes. In the early 2000s, he served as an adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence, during the prince’s time as ambassador to the U.K. and the U.S. He was a friend of the billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.

    “He had been part of the establishment,” said Gerald Feierstein, a former top State Department official for the Middle East, who knew him.

    Until the current Saudi leadership came to power, Mr. Khashoggi never thought of leaving his homeland, he said over multiple conversations with The Wall Street Journal before his death.

    That began to change in 2016. After the election of President Trump, Mr. Khashoggi made comments critical of him. The Saudi government, eager to cultivate better relations with the Trump administration, swiftly banned him from speaking publicly, Mr. Khashoggi told the Journal.

    Fearing he would be arrested or banned from leaving, he left Saudi Arabia. In the U.S., he became a contributor to the opinion pages of The Washington Post, which along with his nearly two million Twitter followers, gave his praise and criticism of the Saudi royal family enormous weight. In his penultimate column, Mr. Khashoggi said democracy in the Middle East couldn’t happen without the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote Aug. 28. “There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it.” ?

    He maintained cordial relations with some Saudi officials.

    “Jamal has many friends in the kingdom, including myself, and despite our differences, and his choice to go into his so-called self-exile, we still maintained regular contact when he was in Washington,” Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, D.C., and a son of King Salman, told reporters earlier this week. He has dismissed accusations of official Saudi involvement in the journalist’s disappearance as baseless.

    Among the Saudi officials who contacted him after his departure was Crown Prince Mohammed’s media adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, according to a Saudi friend of Mr. Khashoggi.

    “They told him: ‘You are a valuable voice, you should return to Saudi Arabia,’” recalled the friend. “They were trying to lure him back.”

    His departure had come around the time when Saudi Arabia and its closest allies broke diplomatic ties with neighboring Qatar, citing Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood among the reasons.

    Much to the frustration of the Saudi government, Mr. Khashoggi continued to write favorably about the group.

    U.S. officials have pointed to Mr. Khashoggi’s views on the Brotherhood as one issue that likely irritated Saudi royalty.

    “There is very little nuance in how the Persian Gulf monarchies see the Muslim Brotherhood,” Andrew Miller, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy. “They view them as an inherent threat and evil.”

    Although he denounced the rapidly shrinking space for public discourse in the kingdom, he applauded some of the social reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed, such as the decision to allow women to drive.

    Mr. Khashoggi became deeply homesick, but he didn’t feel safe enough to return.

    Mr. Khashoggi has four adult children, three of whom are U.S. citizens, a U.S. official said. The fourth, a son named Salah, is in Saudi Arabia and holds Saudi citizenship. The Saudi government barred Salah from traveling outside the kingdom after his father left the country, according to friends of the journalist. Mr. Khashoggi lobbied to have the ban lifted, appealing to Saudi officials including Mr. al-Qahtani, the crown prince’s media adviser, and Prince Khalid, the ambassador, but to no avail.

    Still, his criticism of the monarchy alienated him from his family back home, and he and his Saudi wife soon agreed to divorce.

    During his time in exile, Mr. Khashoggi’s views on the monarchy hardened. In early 2018, he founded a pro-democracy nonprofit group called Democracy for the Arab World Now, according to a friend.

    Mr. Khashoggi was preparing to start a new life with his Turkish fiancée, Ms. Cengiz, who accompanied him to the consulate on Oct. 2 and said he never came out it. He had an appointment to pick up documents related to his divorce.

    ———-

    “Missing Journalist Was an Insider Willing to Cross Saudi Red Lines” by Margherita Stancati in Beirut and Nancy A. Youssef; The Wall Street Journal; 10/12/2018

    “While he had become known as a dissident writer in recent years, he was a longtime insider who remained close to some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful princes.

    A dissident Muslim Brotherhood insider. That’s more or less who Jamal Khashoggi was during his decades as a journalist, which highlights how deeply intertwined the Saudi regime and the Muslim Brotherhood really are despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has officially become one of the primary enemies of the Saudi monarchy in recent years. Khashoggi even became the first Arab journalist to interview Osama bin Laden – who was leading a heavily Saudi-backed military operation in Afghanistan that was basically a militant Muslim Brotherhood offshoot – in the late 80’s:


    For most of his life, Mr. Khashoggi’s views broadly aligned with those of the Saudi establishment. A scion of a prominent Saudi family, he embraced in his youth the wave of Islamist fervor that swept the kingdom and was influenced by Muslim Brotherhood ideology.

    He traveled to Afghanistan as a journalist, where he became the first Arab journalist to interview Osama bin Laden in the late 1980s. “A lot of them went to fight. He went to report,” said Peter Bergen, an American journalist and academic who knew Mr. Khashoggi.

    In the 1990s, he reported from across the Middle East, where he became acquainted with different schools of political Islam. He was removed three times as editor of a leading Saudi daily, Al Watan, for crossing red lines, such as criticizing the religious establishment.

    Khashoggi was also close to one of the biggest centers of Muslim Brotherhood power in the world today: Erdogan’s AKP-led government:


    One of the country’s best-known journalists, he clashed with the clerical establishment for his socially liberal views. His sympathy for democratic movements drew the ire of the Saudi government, particularly for the Muslim Brotherhood, which the royal family views as a threat to its absolute monarchy.

    Mr. Khashoggi was close to the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ties with Saudi Arabia had become increasingly strained in recent years. Turkey backed Qatar in its diplomatic spat with Saudi Arabia last year, and like Qatar, Turkey also differs with Saudi Arabia over its view of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Mr. Khashoggi knew President Erdogan personally and was a friend to some of his closest advisers, say people who knew him. During a conference in Turkey this past spring, he met Hatice Cengiz, a Ph.D. student. Over the summer they agreed to marry.

    And in his final column as a Washington Post opinion writer, Khashoggi wrote that the Saudi government’s attempts to crush the Muslim Brotherhood “is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes…There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it.” In other words, the only acceptable for of democracy for the Muslim world is the theocratic style of democracy backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, which isn’t really a democracy but a theocracy with a veneer of democracy:


    Until the current Saudi leadership came to power, Mr. Khashoggi never thought of leaving his homeland, he said over multiple conversations with The Wall Street Journal before his death.

    That began to change in 2016. After the election of President Trump, Mr. Khashoggi made comments critical of him. The Saudi government, eager to cultivate better relations with the Trump administration, swiftly banned him from speaking publicly, Mr. Khashoggi told the Journal.

    Fearing he would be arrested or banned from leaving, he left Saudi Arabia. In the U.S., he became a contributor to the opinion pages of The Washington Post, which along with his nearly two million Twitter followers, gave his praise and criticism of the Saudi royal family enormous weight. In his penultimate column, Mr. Khashoggi said democracy in the Middle East couldn’t happen without the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote Aug. 28. “There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it.” ?

    A despite his long-standing pro-Muslim Brotherhood views, he remained quite close to the Saudi establishment, even serving as an adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal:


    Through it all, he maintained close ties to some of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful princes. In the early 2000s, he served as an adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former head of Saudi intelligence, during the prince’s time as ambassador to the U.K. and the U.S. He was a friend of the billionaire Prince al-Waleed bin Talal.

    “He had been part of the establishment,” said Gerald Feierstein, a former top State Department official for the Middle East, who knew him.

    But Khashoggi clearly didn’t see those establishment ties as being enough to protect him during the MBS crackdown last year, so he fled. And then started planning a pro-democracy movement, which seems like a likely trigger for his presumed murder:

    .

    During his time in exile, Mr. Khashoggi’s views on the monarchy hardened. In early 2018, he founded a pro-democracy nonprofit group called Democracy for the Arab World Now, according to a friend.

    Mr. Khashoggi was preparing to start a new life with his Turkish fiancée, Ms. Cengiz, who accompanied him to the consulate on Oct. 2 and said he never came out it. He had an appointment to pick up documents related to his divorce.

    So he created Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) earlier this year and months later he’s murdered by his government on Turkish soil.

    Now let’s take a closer at the pro-democracy plans Khashoggi had in mind for the Middle East. In addition to DAWN, he also had plans to set up a media watch organization to track press freedoms and an economic-focused website to translate international reports into Arabic. And, of course, political Islamists were going to be promoted.

    And as the article also notes, one of his friends happens to be Khaled Saffuri, co-founder of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Islamic Free-Market Institute (also known as the Islamic Institute) he co-founded with Grover Norquist. So between his close ties to Erdogan’s government and key Muslim Brotherhood figures like Saffuri it’s pretty clear that Khashoggi’s pro-democracy project was really going to be a pro-Muslim Brotherhood project.

    And that’s part of why killing Khashoggi in such an outrageous manner was such a massive risk for the Saudi monarchy. Because while the Saudis may have killed Khashoggi, it’s not like they killed the Muslim Brotherhood and now Khashoggi’s death can be used as a pro-democracy (pro-Muslim Brotherhood) rallying cry:

    Associated Press

    Missing Saudi writer had big plans for his troubled region

    By SARAH EL DEEB
    10/12/2018

    BEIRUT (AP) — The Saudi contributor to the Washington Post who went missing more than a week ago and is feared dead had major plans, including a string of new projects to promote inclusiveness and accountability lacking around the Arab world, his friends say.

    Jamal Khashoggi, a prolific writer and commentator, was working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now. He wanted to set up a media watch organization to keep track of press freedom.

    He also planned to launch an economic-focused website to translate international reports into Arabic to bring sobering realities to a population often hungry for real news, not propaganda.

    Part of Khashoggi’s approach was to include political Islamists in what he saw as democracy building. That — along with his sharp criticisms of the kingdom’s crackdowns on critics, its war in Yemen and its policy on Iran — put him at odds with the rulers of Saudi Arabia, which deeply opposes Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing them as a threat.

    The Saudi journalist, whose 60th birthday is this weekend, had also personal plans. He bought an apartment in Istanbul and planned to marry the day after he disappeared. He planned to commute between Istanbul and his home in Virginia.

    Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct.2 and has yet to emerge. Turkish officials believe he was killed in side the building by a death squad that flew in from Saudi Arabia.

    A friend and neighbor in the United States, where Khashoggi had a condo since 2008, said the Saudi writer had the contacts and resources to make his plans work.

    “He had the wisdom of a 60-year-old. He had the energy and a creativity of a 20-something,” he said, asking to remain anonymous out of respect for Khashoggi’s family.

    Khashoggi had incorporated his democracy advocacy group, DAWN, in January in Delaware, said Khaled Saffuri, another friend. The group was still in the planning stages, and Khashoggi was working on it quietly, likely concerned it could cause trouble for associates, including activists in the Gulf, Saffuri said.

    The project was expected to reach out to journalists and lobby for change, representing both Islamists and liberals, said another friend, Azzam Tamimi, a prominent Palestinian-British activist and TV presenter.

    Tamimi had planned to interview Khashoggi about the project on his show on Thursday, airing from Istanbul. Instead, the show was held with an empty chair with Khashoggi’s picture on it as guests discussed the case.

    “Democracy is currently being slaughtered everywhere. He wanted to alert Western public opinion to the dangers of remaining silent in the face of the assassination of democracy,” Tamimi told the AP. “The Muslim Brothers and Islamists were the biggest victims of the foiled Arab spring.”

    Tamimi said he and Khashoggi had set up a similar pro-democracy project together in 1992 when they first met. It was called Friends of Democracy in Algeria, he said, and followed the botched elections in Algeria, which the government annulled to avert an imminent Islamist victory.

    Khashoggi spoke out against powerful ultraconservative clerics in Saudi Arabia. He was a voice of reform when Saudi Arabia came under intense criticism following the 9/11 attacks, in which a dozen Saudis were implicated.

    When Sunni Islamists rose to power in other parts of the region, Khashoggi was pragmatic. He argued that the future of the region can’t be without Islamists and denounced governments’ crackdowns on them. He argued the most effective way to challenge Iran’s growing influence in the region is by allowing Sunni political Islam— a rival to Shiite Iran— to be represented in governments.

    Khashoggi was to marry his Turkish fiancée on Oct. 3.

    Saffuri said he was surprised Khashoggi returned to the consulate. He said his friend avoided going to the Saudi Embassy in Washington and didn’t talk to diplomats.

    “He didn’t trust them. He knew they were up to something bad.”

    ———–

    “Missing Saudi writer had big plans for his troubled region” by SARAH EL DEEB; Associated Press; 10/12/2018

    “Jamal Khashoggi, a prolific writer and commentator, was working quietly with intellectuals, reformists and Islamists to launch a group called Democracy for the Arab World Now. He wanted to set up a media watch organization to keep track of press freedom.”

    He wanted to set up a media watch organization to keep track of press freedom. And was also close to the Erdogan government. It’s quite a contradiction.

    And, of course, part of this pro-democracy project was to include political Islamists (which are typically pro-theocracy in reality) into this democracy building project. But given his views that democracy can’t function in the Arab world without political Islam, it’s hard to foresee his project as merely including political Islamists as opposed to being run by and for political Islamists:


    He also planned to launch an economic-focused website to translate international reports into Arabic to bring sobering realities to a population often hungry for real news, not propaganda.

    Part of Khashoggi’s approach was to include political Islamists in what he saw as democracy building. That — along with his sharp criticisms of the kingdom’s crackdowns on critics, its war in Yemen and its policy on Iran — put him at odds with the rulers of Saudi Arabia, which deeply opposes Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing them as a threat.

    Highlighting this is the fact one of his friends who is familiar with is pro-democracy plans is none other than ibe if the more important contemporary figures in the global network of Muslim Brotherhood entities with ties a broad array of Sunni terror groups, Khaled Saffuri:


    Khashoggi had incorporated his democracy advocacy group, DAWN, in January in Delaware, said Khaled Saffuri, another friend. The group was still in the planning stages, and Khashoggi was working on it quietly, likely concerned it could cause trouble for associates, including activists in the Gulf, Saffuri said.

    Saffuri said he was surprised Khashoggi returned to the consulate. He said his friend avoided going to the Saudi Embassy in Washington and didn’t talk to diplomats.

    “He didn’t trust them. He knew they were up to something bad.”

    And the other friend of Khashoggi cited in the article is Assam Tamimi, an open backer of Hamas, another Muslim Brotherhood affiliate:


    The project was expected to reach out to journalists and lobby for change, representing both Islamists and liberals, said another friend, Azzam Tamimi, a prominent Palestinian-British activist and TV presenter.

    Tamimi had planned to interview Khashoggi about the project on his show on Thursday, airing from Istanbul. Instead, the show was held with an empty chair with Khashoggi’s picture on it as guests discussed the case.

    “Democracy is currently being slaughtered everywhere. He wanted to alert Western public opinion to the dangers of remaining silent in the face of the assassination of democracy,” Tamimi told the AP. “The Muslim Brothers and Islamists were the biggest victims of the foiled Arab spring.”

    Tamimi said he and Khashoggi had set up a similar pro-democracy project together in 1992 when they first met. It was called Friends of Democracy in Algeria, he said, and followed the botched elections in Algeria, which the government annulled to avert an imminent Islamist victory.

    So it’s looking like the murder of Khashoggi is latest chapter in this long, weird love/hate relationship between the Saudi monarchy and the Muslim Brotherhood. A relationship that has soured substantially in recent years. Recent years that happened to showcase the utility of the Muslim Brotherhood as a ‘pro-democracy’ fascist organization capable of delivery a patina of ‘democratic legitimacy’ to a country while still maintaining an underlying pro-corporatist neoliberal and authoritarian governing model.

    The nurturing of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Saudis was always a gamble. A gamble that they were nurturing their eventual replacement. And given that the Saudi monarchy’s staunch western allies are also staunch Muslim Brotherhood allies it’s hard to argue that the Saudi regime should fear a Muslim Brotherhood-led revolution someday.

    So let’s hope that one of the lessons the world learns from the grim chapter of Jamal Khashoggi’s apparent murder is the lesson of the profound need for the nurturing of pro-democracy movements for the Arab world that aren’t fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood and other crypto-fascist organizations.

    If this this story serves as a tangential public reminder of the coverup of the profound role played by both the Saudi government and the Muslim Brotherhood in the 9/11 attacks that would also be nice.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 13, 2018, 3:06 pm
  4. The New York Times has a piece on Jamal Khashoggi’s background that answers one of the obvious questions that’s raised by any stories involving someone named Khashoggi: So was Jamal related to famed Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi? And it turns out the answer is yes, Adnan was Jamal’s Uncle. Although it doesn’t sound like Jamal was a beneficiary of Adnan’s wealth. In addition to all the scandals that Adnan Khashoggi was involved with – Iran Contra, BCCI, etc – it’s also worth recall the various shows done with Daniel Hopsicker that covered the ties of people moving in the orbit of the 9/11 hijackers who had ties to Adnan Khashoggi.

    The article gives more information about his background working with the Muslim Brotherhood and it contains two pretty revealing observations: He’s believed by friends to have joined the Muslim Brotherhood at some point, although he later stopped attending its meetings. But he remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric and he could deploy or hide that rhetoric depending on whom he was seeking to befriend. So it sounds like the extent of his relationship and support for the Muslim Brotherhood was something he kept somewhat obscured. This is understandable given the tricky line he had to walk as a prominent Saudi figure but it also highlights the fact that he was probably a bigger supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood than he actually publicly let on. To the extent of being a secret member.

    Another interesting anecdote comes for Khashoggi’s pro-Hamas friend, and Muslim Brotherhood leader, Azzam Tamimi. Following a military coup in Algerian in 1992 that prevented an Islamist political party from winning control of the Parliament, Khashoggi and Tamimi quietly set up an organization in London called “The Friends of Democracy in Algeria”. Tamimi acted as the public face of the group and hid Khashoggi’s role. So that’s one example of Khashoggi secretly working on a Muslim Brotherhood project.

    The article goes on to say that by the time he reached his 50’s, Khashoggi’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Muslim Brotherhood members say they always felt he was with them but Khashoggi’s secular friends would have never believed it. This, again, points towards a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood that was much deeper than publicly revealed:

    The New York Times

    For Khashoggi, a Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies

    By Ben Hubbard and David D. Kirkpatrick
    Oct. 14, 2018

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — Jamal Khashoggi landed in Washington last fall, leaving behind a long list of bad news back home.

    After a successful career as an adviser to and unofficial spokesman for the royal family of Saudi Arabia, he had been barred from writing in the kingdom, even on Twitter, by the new crown prince. His column in a Saudi-owned Arab newspaper was canceled. His marriage was collapsing. His relatives had been forbidden to travel to pressure him to stop criticizing the kingdom’s rulers.

    Then, after he arrived in the United States, a wave of arrests put a number of his Saudi friends behind bars, and he made his difficult decision: It was too dangerous to return home anytime soon — and maybe forever.

    So in the United States, he reinvented himself as a critic, contributing columns to The Washington Post and believing he had found safety in the West.

    But as it turned out, the West’s protection extended only so far.

    Mr. Khashoggi was last seen on Oct. 2 entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he needed to pick up a document for his wedding. There, Turkish officials say, a team of Saudi agents killed and dismembered him.

    Saudi officials have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but nearly two weeks after his disappearance, they have failed to provide evidence that he left the consulate and have offered no credible account of what happened to him.

    His disappearance has opened a rift between Washington and Saudi Arabia, the chief Arab ally of the Trump administration. And it has badly damaged the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old power behind the Saudi throne, who this time may have gone too far for even for his staunchest supporters in the West.

    The possibility that the young prince ordered a hit on a dissident poses challenges for President Trump and may turn once warm relationships toxic. It could convince those governments and corporations that had overlooked the prince’s destructive military campaign in Yemen, his kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister and his waves of arrests of clerics, businessmen and fellow princes that he is a ruthless autocrat who will stop at nothing to get his enemies.

    While the disappearance has cast a harsh new light on the crown prince, it has also brought attention to the tangled sympathies throughout Mr. Khashoggi’s career, where he balanced what appears to have been a private affinity for democracy and political Islam with his long service to the royal family.

    His attraction to political Islam helped him forge a personal bond with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who is now demanding that Saudi Arabia explain his friend’s fate.

    The idea of self-exile in the West was a blow for Mr. Khashoggi, 60, who had worked as a reporter, commentator and editor to become one of the kingdom’s best known personalities. He first drew international attention for interviewing a young Osama bin Laden and later became well-known as a confidant of kings and princes.

    His career left him extraordinarily well-connected, and the tall, gregarious, easygoing man seemed to know everyone who had anything to do with Saudi Arabia over the last three decades.

    But settling in Washington had advantages. A friend invited him for Thanksgiving last year and he shared a photo of himself at dinner with his 1.7 million Twitter followers, tucking into turkey and yams.

    When his turn came to share what he was thankful for, he said: “Because I have become free, and I can write freely.”

    According to interviews with dozens of people who knew Mr. Khashoggi and his relationship with the Saudi leadership, it was his penchant for writing freely, and his organizing to push for political reform from abroad, that put him on a collision course with the crown prince.

    While Saudi Arabia has long been ruled according to the consensus of senior princes, Crown Prince Mohammed has dismantled that system, leaving his own power largely unchecked. If a decision was taken to silence a perceived traitor, it likely would have been his.

    Osama, Adnan and the Muslim Brotherhood

    Mr. Khashoggi’s first claim to fame was his acquaintance with Osama bin Laden. Mr. Khashoggi had spent time in Jidda, Bin Laden’s hometown, and, like Bin Laden, he came from a prominent nonroyal family. Mr. Khashoggi’s grandfather was a doctor who had treated Saudi Arabia’s first king. His uncle was Adnan Khashoggi, a famous arms dealer, although Jamal Khashoggi did not benefit from his uncle’s wealth.

    Mr. Khashoggi studied at Indiana State University and returned to Saudi Arabia to report for an English-language newspaper. Several of his friends say that early on Mr. Khashoggi also joined the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Although he later stopped attending meetings of the Brotherhood, he remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend.

    His newspaper colleagues recalled him as friendly, thoughtful and devout. He often led communal prayers in the newsroom, recalled Shahid Raza Burney, an Indian editor who worked with him.

    Like many Saudis in the 1980s, Mr. Khashoggi cheered for the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, which was supported by the C.I.A. and Saudi Arabia. So when he got an invitation to see it for himself from another young Saudi, Bin Laden, Mr. Khashoggi jumped at the chance.

    In Afghanistan, Mr. Khashoggi wore local dress and had his photo taken holding an assault rifle, much to his editors’ chagrin. But it does not appear that he actually fought while on assignment there.

    “He was there as a journalist first and foremost, admittedly as someone sympathetic to the Afghan jihad, but so were most Arab journalists at the time — and many Western journalists,” said Thomas Hegghammer, a Norwegian researcher who interviewed Mr. Khashoggi about his time in Afghanistan.

    His colleagues concurred.

    “To say that Jamal was some kind of an extremist is all lies,” said Mr. Burney, now a newspaper editor in India.

    But the war’s failure to put Afghanistan on sound footing haunted Mr. Khashoggi, as did Bin Laden’s later turn to terrorism.

    “He was disappointed that after all that struggle, the Afghans never got together,” said a Saudi friend of Mr. Khashoggi’s who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

    Mr. Khashoggi’s trips to Afghanistan and his relationship with Prince Turki al-Faisal, who headed Saudi intelligence, made some of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends suspect he was also spying for the Saudi government.

    Years later, after American commandos killed Bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, Mr. Khashoggi mourned his old acquaintance and what he had become.

    “I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah,” Mr. Khashoggi wrote on Twitter, using Bin Laden’s nickname. “You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”

    From Reporter to Royal Insider

    As his journalism career took off, Mr. Khashoggi reported from Algeria and drove into Kuwait during the first Gulf War. He climbed the ladder of the kingdom’s media world, where princes own newspapers, content is censored and scandals involving royals are buried.

    After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he blasted the conspiracy theories common in the Arab world, writing that the hijacked planes “also attacked Islam as a faith and the values of tolerance and coexistence that it preaches.”

    He was named editor of the Saudi newspaper Al Watan in 2003, but fired less than two months later over an article blaming an esteemed Islamic scholar for teachings used to justify attacks on non-Muslims. He was reinstated in 2007 and lasted a bit longer in his second tenure.

    He traveled with King Abdullah and grew close to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the billionaire investor, who was later arrested by Crown Prince Mohammed. Prince Turki, the former intelligence chief, hired Mr. Khashoggi as an adviser when he served as ambassador to Britain and the United States.

    It was during his time there that Mr. Khashoggi bought the condo in McLean, Va., where he would live after fleeing the kingdom.

    Backing Uprisings Abroad, Reforms at Home

    Many of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends say that throughout his career of service to the monarchy, he hid his personal leanings in favor of both electoral democracy and Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam.

    When a military coup in Algeria in 1992 dashed the hopes of an Islamist political party to win control of the Parliament there, Mr. Khashoggi quietly teamed up with an Islamist friend in London to start an organization called “The Friends of Democracy in Algeria.”

    The group took out advertisements in newspapers in Britain before its parliamentary elections that read, “When you go to cast your vote, remember that this is a bounty many people around the world are denied, including Algerians,” recalled his friend, Azzam Tamimi, who acted as the public face of the effort and hid Mr. Khashoggi’s role.

    By the time he reached his 50s, Mr. Khashoggi‘s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it.

    Mr. Khashoggi never called for more than gradual reforms to the Saudi monarchy, eventually supporting its military interventions to deter what the Saudis considered Iranian influence in Bahrain and Yemen. But he was enthusiastic about the uprisings that broke out across much of the Arab world in 2011.

    Like the Afghan jihad before them, however, the movements of the Arab Spring disappointed him as they collapsed into violence and as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates used their wealth to crush opposition and bolster autocrats.

    “He never liked that Saudi Arabia used their policies accelerating the crackdown around the region,” said Sigurd Neubauer, a Middle East analyst in Washington who knew Mr. Khashoggi.

    The kingdom’s tolerance for even minimal criticism faded after King Salman ascended to the throne in 2015 and gave tremendous power to his son, Mohammed, the crown prince known informally by his initials as M.B.S.

    The young prince announced a program to diversify the economy and loosened social structures, including by granting women the right to drive.

    Mr. Khashoggi applauded those moves, but chafed at the authoritarian way the prince wielded power. When Mr. Khashoggi criticized Mr. Trump after his election, for example, Saudi officials forbade him to speak, fearing he would harm their relationship with the new administration.

    Crown Prince Mohammed went after his critics with all his power, barring them from travel and throwing some in jail. Mr. Khashoggi left the kingdom last year, before scores of his friends were rounded up and hundreds of prominent Saudis were locked in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton on accusations of corruption. A number of them, including at least two sons of former kings, are still detained.

    Mr. Khashoggi began contributing columns to The Washington Post, comparing Crown Prince Mohammed to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Khashoggi’s friends assumed such writing landed him on the prince’s blacklist.

    “Mohammed bin Salman had been paying millions of dollars to create a certain image of himself, and Jamal Khashoggi was destroying all of it with just a few words,” said Mr. Tamimi, the friend. “The crown prince must have been furious.”

    But Mr. Khashoggi didn’t stop.

    He was planning to start a website to publish translated reports about the economies of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, where he felt many people did not understand the scale of corruption or the limited future of the oil wealth.

    He was also founding an organization called Democracy in the Arab World Now, or DAWN, an advocacy group. Mr. Khashoggi was trying to secure funding and set up a board when he disappeared, friends said.

    Receiving an award in April from the Islamist-leaning Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Mr. Khashoggi said democracy was under attack across the Arab world by radical Islamists, authoritarians and elites who feared that popular participation would bring chaos. Power sharing, he said, was the only way to stop civil wars and ensure better governance.

    Crown Prince Mohammed “is investing hundreds of billions of dollars into future projects and he’s doing that depending on his own ability to judge and the ability of a small circle of advisers,” Mr. Khashoggi said. “Is that enough? No, it is not enough.”

    ———-

    “For Khashoggi, a Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies” by Ben Hubbard and David D. Kirkpatrick; The New York Times; 10/14/2018

    “The idea of self-exile in the West was a blow for Mr. Khashoggi, 60, who had worked as a reporter, commentator and editor to become one of the kingdom’s best known personalities. He first drew international attention for interviewing a young Osama bin Laden and later became well-known as a confidant of kings and princes.”

    A confidant of kings and princes and a friend of Osama bin Laden. It’s an interesting background. A background that includes being the nephew of Adnan Khashoggi:


    Osama, Adnan and the Muslim Brotherhood

    Mr. Khashoggi’s first claim to fame was his acquaintance with Osama bin Laden. Mr. Khashoggi had spent time in Jidda, Bin Laden’s hometown, and, like Bin Laden, he came from a prominent nonroyal family. Mr. Khashoggi’s grandfather was a doctor who had treated Saudi Arabia’s first king. His uncle was Adnan Khashoggi, a famous arms dealer, although Jamal Khashoggi did not benefit from his uncle’s wealth.

    And then there’s Jamal Khashoggi’s ambiguous ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Ambiguous because it sounds like he was hiding much deeper ties:


    Mr. Khashoggi studied at Indiana State University and returned to Saudi Arabia to report for an English-language newspaper. Several of his friends say that early on Mr. Khashoggi also joined the Muslim Brotherhood.

    Although he later stopped attending meetings of the Brotherhood, he remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend.

    At the same time, his relationship with Prince Turki al-Faisal led his friends to suspect he was also a Saudi spy:


    Mr. Khashoggi’s trips to Afghanistan and his relationship with Prince Turki al-Faisal, who headed Saudi intelligence, made some of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends suspect he was also spying for the Saudi government.

    And then there’s the anecdote of Muslim Brotherhood figure Azzam Tamimi, one of Khashoggi’s friends, where the two set up a organization in 1992 to protest the Algeria coup to stop an Islamist party from taking power. And the they Tamimi describes it, Khashoggi’s role in this was kept hidden, raising questions about how many other projects like this Khashoggi may have secretly worked on with the Brotherhood over the years:


    Backing Uprisings Abroad, Reforms at Home

    Many of Mr. Khashoggi’s friends say that throughout his career of service to the monarchy, he hid his personal leanings in favor of both electoral democracy and Muslim Brotherhood-style political Islam.

    When a military coup in Algeria in 1992 dashed the hopes of an Islamist political party to win control of the Parliament there, Mr. Khashoggi quietly teamed up with an Islamist friend in London to start an organization called “The Friends of Democracy in Algeria.”

    The group took out advertisements in newspapers in Britain before its parliamentary elections that read, “When you go to cast your vote, remember that this is a bounty many people around the world are denied, including Algerians,” recalled his friend, Azzam Tamimi, who acted as the public face of the effort and hid Mr. Khashoggi’s role.

    By the time he reached his 50s, Mr. Khashoggi‘s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it.

    “Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it.”

    And that’s all part of why Jamal Khashoggi really does appear to qualify for ‘International Man of Mystery’ status. He’s got deep ties to the Saudi establishment, the Muslim Brotherhood, figures like his uncle Adnan Khashoggi (another International Man of Mystery), and yet he apparently managed to obscure much of this from his secular friends. That’s pretty mysterious.

    In tangential fun fact, it’s worth recalling that Adnan Khashoggi sold his famous yacht, the Nabila, to none other than Donald Trump following Khashoggi’s legal downfall. It was a $70 million yacht sold for a bargain price of $30 million:

    Vanity Fair

    Khashoggi’s Fall

    Lavish villas, perfumed houris, costume balls, fabulous deals with foreign powers and Oriental potentates—Adnan Khashoggi’s life was an eighties remake of The Thousand and One Nights. The rumors started during the Iran-contra scandal, and the Saudi arms dealer once touted as the richest man in the world had to resort to such inconvenient economies as selling his famous yacht to Donald Trump. Now, after three months in a Swiss jail, he’s been extradited to the U.S. on charges of mail fraud and obstruction of justice.
    by

    Dominick Dunne
    September 1989

    Adnan Khashoggi was never the richest man in the world, ever, but he flaunted the myth that he was with such relentless perseverance and public-relations know-how that most of the world believed him. The power of great wealth is awesome. If you have enough money, you can bamboozle anyone. Even if you can create the illusion that you have enough money you can bamboozle anyone, as Adnan Khashoggi did over and over again. He understood high visibility better than the most shameless Hollywood press agent, and he made himself one of the most famous names of our time. Who doesn’t know about his yachts, his planes, his dozen houses, his wives, his hookers, his gifts, his parties, his friendships with movie stars and jet-set members, and his companionship with kings and world leaders? His dazzling existence outshone even that of his prime benefactors in the royal family of Saudi Arabia—a bedazzlement that led to their eventual disaffection for him.

    Now, reportedly broke, or broke by the standards of people with great wealth—his yacht gone, his planes gone, his dozen houses gone, or going, and his reputation in smithereens—he has recently spent three months pacing restlessly in a six-by-eight-foot prison cell in Bern, Switzerland, where the majority of his fellow prisoners were in on drug charges. True, he dined there on gourmet food from the Schweizerhof Hotel, but he also had to clean his own cell and toilet as a small army of international lawyers fought to prevent his extradition to the United States to face charges of racketeering and obstruction of justice. Finally, Khashoggi dropped his efforts to avoid extradition when the Swiss ruled that he would face prosecution only for obstruction of justice and mail fraud, not for the more serious charges of racketeering and conspiracy. On July 19, accompanied by Swiss law-enforcement agents, he arrived in New York from Geneva first-class on a Swissair flight, handcuffed like a common criminal but dressed in an olive-drab safari suit with gold buttons and epaulets. He was immediately whisked to the federal courthouse on Foley Square, a tiny figure surrounded by a cadre of lawyers and federal marshals, where Judge John F. Keenan refused to grant him bail. He spent his first night in three years in America not in his Olympic Tower aerie but in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. No member of his immediate family was present to witness his humiliation.

    Allegedly, he helped his friends Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos plunder the Philippines of some $160 million by fronting for them in illegal real-estate deals. When United States authorities attempted to return some of the Marcos booty to the new Philippine government, they discovered that the ownership of four large commercial buildings in New York City—the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, the Herald Center at 1 Herald Square, 40 Wall Street, and 200 Madison Avenue—had passed to Adnan Khashoggi. On paper it seemed that the sale of the buildings had taken place in 1985, but authorities later charged that the documents had been fraudulently backdated. In addition, more than thirty paintings, valued at $200 million, that Imelda Marcos had allegedly purloined from the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, including works by Rubens, El Greco, Picasso, and Degas, were being stored by Khashoggi for the Marcoses, but it turned out that the pictures had been sold to Khashoggi as part of a cover-up. The art treasures were first hidden on his yacht and then moved to his penthouse in Cannes. The penthouse was raided by the French police in a search for the pictures in April 1987, but it is believed that Khashoggi had been tipped off. He turned over nine of the paintings to the police, claiming to have sold the others to a Panamanian company, but investigators believe that he sold the pictures back to himself. The rest of the loot is thought to be in Athens. If he is found guilty, such charges could get him up to ten years in an American slammer.

    In a vain delay tactic meant to forestall the extradition process as long as possible, he had at first refused to accept hundreds of pages of English-language legal documentation in any language but Arabic, although he has spoken English nearly all his life and was educated partially in the United States.

    Shortly after I was asked to write about Adnan Khashoggi, following his arrest, his executive assistant, Robert Shaheen, contacted this magazine, aware of my assignment. He said that I should call him, and I did.

    “I understand,” I said, “that you are the number-two man to Mr. Khashoggi.”

    “I am Mr. Khasoggi’s number-one man,” he corrected me. Then he said, “What is it you want? What will be your angle be in your story?” I told him that at that point I didn’t know. Shaheen’s reverence for his boss was evident in every sentence, and his descriptions of him were sometimes florid. “He dared to dream dreams that no one else dared to dream,” he said with a bit of a catch in his voice. He proceeded to list some of the accomplishments of his boss, whom he always referred to as the Chief. The Chief was responsible for opening the West to Saudi Arabia. “The Chief saved the Cairo telephone system. The Chief saved Lockheed from going bankrupt.” He then told me, “You must talk with Max Helzel. He is a representative of Lockheed. Get him before he dies. He is getting old. Mention my name to him.”

    An American of Syrian descent, Shaheen went to Saudi Arabia to teach English in the late fifties, and there he met Khashoggi. He has described his job with Khashoggi in their long association as being similar to that of the chief of staff at the White House. Anyone wishing to meet with Khashoggi for a business proposition had to go through him first. He carried the Chief’s money. He scheduled the air fleet’s flights. He traveled with him. He became his apologist when things started to go wrong. After the debacle in Salt Lake City, he said, “People in Salt Lake City can’t hold Adnan responsible. He delegated all responsibility to American executives, and it was up to them to make a success. Adnan still believes in Salt Lake City.” And he became, like his boss, a very rich man himself through the contacts he made. At the close of our conversation, Shaheen told me that it was very unlikely that I would get into the prison in Bern, although he would do what he could to help me.

    The night before I left New York, I was at a dinner party in a beautiful Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Part. There were sixteen people, among them the high-flying Donald and Ivana Trump, one of New York’s richest and most discussed couples, and a major topic of conversation was Khashoggi’s imprisonment. “I read every word about Adnan Khashoggi,” Donald Trump said to me.

    A story that Trump frequently tells is about his purchase of Khashoggi’s yacht, the 282-foot, $70 million Nabila, thought to be the most opulent private vessel afloat. In addition to the inevitable discotheque, with laser beams that projected Khashoggi’s face, the floating palace also had an operating room and a morgue, with coffins. Forced to sell it for a mere $30 million, Khashoggi did not want Trump to keep the name Nabila, because it was his daughter’s name. Trump had no intention, ever, of keeping the name. He had already decided to rename it the Trump Princess. But for some reason Khashoggi thought Trump meant to retain the name, and he knocked a million dollars off the asking price to ensure the name change. Trump accepted the deduction.

    “Khashoggi was a great broker and a lousy businessman,” Trump said to me that night. “He understood the art of bringing people together and putting together a deal better than almost anyone—all the bullshitting part, of talk and entertainment—but he never knew how to invest his money. If he had put his commissions into a bank in Switzerland, he’d be a rich man today, but he invested it, and he made lousy choices.”


    ———-

    “Khashoggi’s Fall” by Dominick Dunne; Vanity Fair; September 1989

    “The night before I left New York, I was at a dinner party in a beautiful Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Part. There were sixteen people, among them the high-flying Donald and Ivana Trump, one of New York’s richest and most discussed couples, and a major topic of conversation was Khashoggi’s imprisonment. “I read every word about Adnan Khashoggi,” Donald Trump said to me.

    Yep, Donald Trump was reading every world about Adnan Khashoggi and his downfall. The fact that he got Khashoggi’s yacht at a bargain price may have had something to do with that keen interest, but it’s also pretty clear Trump had a history with Khashoggi:


    A story that Trump frequently tells is about his purchase of Khashoggi’s yacht, the 282-foot, $70 million Nabila, thought to be the most opulent private vessel afloat. In addition to the inevitable discotheque, with laser beams that projected Khashoggi’s face, the floating palace also had an operating room and a morgue, with coffins. Forced to sell it for a mere $30 million, Khashoggi did not want Trump to keep the name Nabila, because it was his daughter’s name. Trump had no intention, ever, of keeping the name. He had already decided to rename it the Trump Princess. But for some reason Khashoggi thought Trump meant to retain the name, and he knocked a million dollars off the asking price to ensure the name change. Trump accepted the deduction.

    “Khashoggi was a great broker and a lousy businessman,” Trump said to me that night. “He understood the art of bringing people together and putting together a deal better than almost anyone—all the bullshitting part, of talk and entertainment—but he never knew how to invest his money. If he had put his commissions into a bank in Switzerland, he’d be a rich man today, but he invested it, and he made lousy choices.”

    So Khashoggi knocked millions of dollars off the price of his yacht in order to get Trump to agree to change the name, which he was already planning on doing? Yeah, that’s mysterious.

    Regarding Adnan Khashoggi’s relationship with Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and the help he allegedly provided them in laundering $160 million, it’s worth recalling that this probably overlapped with the period with Paul Manafort was acting as a consultant for the Marcos government in the 80’s. So when we read that US authorities discovered this money laundering resulted in the purchase of four large commercial buildings in New York City, you have to wonder what role Trump, a New York real estate mogul, may have played in those dealings:


    Allegedly, he helped his friends Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos plunder the Philippines of some $160 million by fronting for them in illegal real-estate deals. When United States authorities attempted to return some of the Marcos booty to the new Philippine government, they discovered that the ownership of four large commercial buildings in New York City—the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, the Herald Center at 1 Herald Square, 40 Wall Street, and 200 Madison Avenue—had passed to Adnan Khashoggi. On paper it seemed that the sale of the buildings had taken place in 1985, but authorities later charged that the documents had been fraudulently backdated. In addition, more than thirty paintings, valued at $200 million, that Imelda Marcos had allegedly purloined from the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, including works by Rubens, El Greco, Picasso, and Degas, were being stored by Khashoggi for the Marcoses, but it turned out that the pictures had been sold to Khashoggi as part of a cover-up. The art treasures were first hidden on his yacht and then moved to his penthouse in Cannes. The penthouse was raided by the French police in a search for the pictures in April 1987, but it is believed that Khashoggi had been tipped off. He turned over nine of the paintings to the police, claiming to have sold the others to a Panamanian company, but investigators believe that he sold the pictures back to himself. The rest of the loot is thought to be in Athens. If he is found guilty, such charges could get him up to ten years in an American slammer.

    It’s example how small a world it is when you’re moving in the international men of mystery circles. A mysterious circle that appears to include Adnan’s nephew Jamal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 15, 2018, 3:47 pm
  5. The Nabilia/Trump Princess yacht story gets even more interesting. Three years after Adnan Khashoggi sold it to Trump at a $51 million loss Trump turned around and sold it to Prince al-Waleed bin Talal for a $9 million profit.

    Prince al-Waleed participated in at least two funding rounds for Twitter totaling at least $300 million, in August & Sept of 2011, right in the middle of the Arab Spring. As noted above, Prince al-Waleed was among those detained in the Ritz by MbS.

    By following the yacht it looks like a sort of “passing the torch” between two generations of Saudi/US middlemen, with bin Talal picking up where Khashoggi left off.

    I’m also very curious wether Jamal Khashoggi’s father might have been Adnan’s brother Essam, who partnered with him on the Triad projects with the Mormons in Utah.

    Posted by Covert Sphere | October 16, 2018, 8:41 pm
  6. @Covert Sphere–

    Jamal’s uncle is indeed Adnan.

    He was also connected to MANY other interesting interests.

    Check out the latest–FTR #1027. Only the audio is available, now.

    http://emory.kfjc.org/archive/ftr/1000_1099/f-1028.mp3

    I’m still working on the written description.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | October 16, 2018, 9:58 pm
  7. Here’s a pair of article about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi with some information that might help explain the motive for his murder. First, here’s a Bloomberg article that give a general background of the Khashoggi family and its ties to be both Saudi Arabia and Turkey. And at the very end of the article it includes a quote from Yasin Aktay, described as an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a long time friend of Khashoggi. According to Aktay, “Jamal may have been seen as the focal point of an alternative governing power.” On the one hand, that could be a reference to Khashoggi’s close ties to rival factions of Saudi princes who were targeted by MBS’s ‘anti-corruption’ crackdown. But when you look at Khashoggi’s extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey and you look at all the plans he had for ‘democracy building’ project, that sure sounds like a reference to the threat of a Muslim Brotherhood-led regime change operation. And, again, this is coming from someone described as Khashoggi’s friend and an adviser to Erdogan:

    Bloomberg

    Khashoggi’s Name Runs Through Middle East History

    From the Ottoman Empire to interviewing Osama bin Laden, the family’s ties are a tapestry of intrigue.

    By Onur Ant
    October 17, 2018, 6:45 AM CDT

    Jamal Khashoggi’s family history was bound up with political intrigue and prominent figures in the Middle East even before his mysterious disappearance from a Saudi Arabian consulate.

    The Washington Post columnist, who vanished in Istanbul and Turkey says was killed by the Saudis, counted relatives who rubbed shoulders with the high and mighty. He, too, became a consummate Saudi insider, before shifting to critic of the royal court and disappearing in a suspicious fashion that has roiled the kingdom’s relations with the U.S. and Turkey.

    Some of his relatives were famous, others infamous. The Khashoggi family served the Ottoman Empire in Islam’s holy lands for centuries after leaving Anatolia, the heartland of current-day Turkey. A grandfather became personal physician to modern Saudi Arabia’s first ruler, King Abdulaziz Al Saud, after the Ottomans left in the early 20th century.

    One of the doctor’s sons, the late arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, gained notoriety for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal that rocked Ronald Reagan’s administration. But at the peak of his career in the 1980s, he owned one of the world’s largest private jets and a super-yacht, as well as an entire hill in Spain’s Marbella. He hosted presidents and princes at extravagant parties to keep his business empire humming.

    A grandson of the king’s doctor was Princess Diana’s lover Dodi Fayed, who met his death in the same car crash that took her life in a Paris tunnel in 1997. Jamal Khashoggi himself was catapulted to prominence at home with an early interview of Osama bin Laden, who had gone to Afghanistan to fight Soviet invaders.

    Like Adnan and his father Mohammad, Jamal Khashoggi was courted by the House of Saud for his intellect and influence. He was the editor of a major newspaper, Al Watan, and a trusted adviser in both official and unofficial roles.

    One royal ally was Prince Turki Al-Faisal, who led the Saudi intelligence services for more than two decades until shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, in which Saudi assailants were heavily involved. He continued his advisory role in an official capacity when Prince Turki served as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. and U.K. starting in the early 2000s.

    By June 2017, the Saudi journalist had fallen out of favor with the Saudi royal court and left his country, fearing for his freedom. He settled in the U.S., where he wrote columns for the Washington Post that criticized the power behind the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS.

    His ancestors are believed to have hailed from Turkey’s Kayseri province before immigrating to Saudi Arabia’s Hejaz province on the Red Sea coast three centuries ago, according to Turkish historian Murat Bardakci. The Khashoggi surname derives from the Turkish word Kasikci, or spoon-maker.

    The Khashoggis have maintained their ties with Turkey, and the name still pops up in the Turkish press with some regularity. Another member of the family, Hasan Khashoggi, made the news in 2017 when he survived a terrorist attack on a night club in Istanbul in which a gunman massacred 39 people.

    A former colleague who worked with Khashoggi in 2015 said he was long a fan of the Turkish model for the Middle East, which until recent years had been held up as a paragon of coexistence between democracy and Islam.

    But it was romance that sent Khashoggi to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, to wind up paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, she has said. While Saudi Arabia initially said he left the building unharmed, it’s since launched an internal investigation. A new story line that’s being floated quietly by Saudi officials suggests he was killed during a botched interrogation. Skeptics say he was killed on the order of the royal court.

    “The period that began with MBS’s coming to power left no room for him to express himself as an intellectual,” said Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a long time friend of Khashoggi. “Jamal may have been seen as the focal point of an alternative governing power.”

    ———-

    “Khashoggi’s Name Runs Through Middle East History” by Onur Ant; Bloomberg; 10/17/2018

    ““The period that began with MBS’s coming to power left no room for him to express himself as an intellectual,” said Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a long time friend of Khashoggi. “Jamal may have been seen as the focal point of an alternative governing power.””

    “The focal point of an alternative governing power.” It’s quite a characterization coming from someone like Yasin Aktay.

    Next, here’s an article from The Intercept from back in March that has suddenly become very topical: MBS allegedly told confidants that Jared Kushner discussed the names of disloyal Saudis with him during an unannounced tip to Riyadh in October 2017. The article also notes that this kind of information on disloyal Saudis was part of the President’s Daily Brief during the months that followed MBS’s power grab that put him next in line to the throne, and Kushner was reportedly an avid consumer of those Daily Briefs. A week later, MBS starts his ‘anti-corruption’ crackdown that led to the jailing of a number of prominent Saudis.

    Interestingly, one of the people MBS allegedly confided in about Kushner sharing these names with him was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ). Recall that MBZ is deeply involved with both the ‘Seychelles backchannel’ mystery and the UAE/Saudi proposal to hire Psy-Group to provide Cambride Analytica-like services for the Trump campaign.

    Keep in mind that Khashoggi reportedly only started his pro-democracy organization in early 2018, several months after Kushner allegedly passed this information along. But odds are the planning for such an operation would have preceded the announced creation of the group. So if Jamal Khashoggi really was planning some sort of Muslim Brotherhood-led ‘Arab Spring 2.0’ type of operation it seems highly likely the US intelligence community would have known about this in the fall of 2017 and that means Jared Kushner probably would have known too. So this might, in part, explain the Trump administration’s hesitancy in condemning the Saudi government over Khashoggi’s murder: Jared may have handed over the hit list:

    The Intercept

    Saudi Crown Prince Boasted That Jared Kushner Was “In His Pocket”.

    Alex Emmons, Ryan Grim, Clayton Swisher
    March 21 2018, 4:09 p.m.

    Until he was stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February, presidential adviser Jared Kushner was known around the White House as one of the most voracious readers of the President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified rundown of the latest intelligence intended only for the president and his closest advisers.

    Kushner, who had been tasked with bringing about a deal between Israel and Palestine, was particularly engaged by information about the Middle East, according to a former White House official and a former U.S. intelligence professional.

    In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab, according to the former White House official and two U.S. government officials with knowledge of the report. Like many others interviewed for this story, they declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters to the press.

    In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.

    What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.

    On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.

    It is likely that Crown Prince Mohammed would have known who his critics were without Kushner mentioning them, a U.S. government official who declined to be identified pointed out. The crown prince may also have had his own reasons for saying that Kushner shared information with him, even if that wasn’t true. Just the appearance that Kushner did so would send a powerful message to the crown prince’s allies and enemies that his actions were backed by the U.S. government.

    One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket,” the source told The Intercept.

    Access to the President’s Daily Brief is tightly guarded, but Trump has the legal authority to allow Kushner to disclose information contained in it. If Kushner discussed names with MBS as an approved tactic of U.S. foreign policy, the move would be a striking intervention by the U.S. into an unfolding power struggle at the top levels of an allied nation. If Kushner discussed the names with the Saudi prince without presidential authorization, however, he may have violated federal laws around the sharing of classified intelligence.

    On November 6, two days after the detentions in the Ritz began, Trump took to Twitter to defend the crackdown:

    I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017

    ….Some of those they are harshly treating have been “milking” their country for years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017

    In the months that followed, the arrestees were coerced into signing over billions in personal assets to the Saudi government. In December, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Maj. Gen. Ali al-Qahtani had been tortured to death in the Ritz. Qahtani’s body showed signs of mistreatment, including a neck that was “twisted unnaturally as though it had been broken,” bruises, and “burn marks that appeared to be from electric shocks,” the New York Times reported earlier this month.

    Senior U.S. government officials have long worried about Kushner’s handling of sensitive foreign policy issues given his lack of diplomatic experience. They have also raised concerns about the possibility that foreign officials might try to influence him through business deals with his family’s real estate empire. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly examining Kushner’s business ties as part of his ongoing probe.

    The Washington Post reported this week that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster “expressed early concern that Kushner was freelancing U.S. foreign policy.” According to the Post, Tillerson once asked staffers in frustration: “Who is the secretary of state here?”

    Indeed, Kushner has grown so close to the Saudi and Emirati crown princes that he has communicated with them directly using WhatsApp, a reasonably secure messaging app owned by Facebook and popular in the Middle East, according to a senior Western official and a source close to the Saudi royal family.

    Asked about Kushner’s use of WhatsApp to communicate with foreign officials, his attorney’s spokesperson Mirijanian said, “Without commenting on who he talks with and how he does his work, Mr. Kushner is in conformity with the Presidential Records Act and other rules.” Kushner’s attorneys have since told him not to use the app for official business, according to a source with direct knowledge of the exchange.

    Kushner’s unconventional communications with regional leaders excluded diplomats during the summer of 2017, when Saudi Arabia and the UAE initiated an economic blockade aimed at weakening their Gulf neighbor Qatar. Tillerson’s attempts to mediate the crisis were quickly undercut by Trump and Kushner, who supported the blockade. Three State Department officials told The Intercept that Tillerson was largely in the dark about Kushner’s communications with MBS during that period.

    In the wake of MBS’s crackdown in Saudi Arabia, the National Security Council’s policy coordination committee suggested that Tillerson intervene and try to reason with the crown prince, according to a former White House official and a former State Department official. Tillerson declined, telling colleagues doing so would be “pointless” given that Kushner was already in close and direct contact with him.

    The National Security Council’s Middle East adviser, retired U.S. Army Col. Michael Bell, has also complained in recent months that he was out of the loop on the Gulf crisis and the Arab-Israeli conflict, the former White House official said. Bell has told colleagues that Kushner frequently micromanaged those subjects through direct interaction with regional leaders, without offering Bell any worthwhile readout on their interactions.

    Bell, speaking through National Security Council spokesperson Anton, denied that Kushner has kept him out of the loop and said he respects Kushner’s lead role in the region.

    Kushner’s support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Qatar in the Gulf crisis has raised questions about a possible conflict of interest. Kushner backed the blockade a month after Qatar’s ministry of finance rebuffed an attempt by Kushner’s real estate firm, Kushner Companies, to extract financing for the firm’s troubled flagship property at 666 Fifth Avenue.

    In 2007, Kushner bought the landmark Manhattan building for $1.8 billion, putting down $500 million in cash raised largely by selling thousands of rental units the family had owned in New Jersey. It was widely regarded as overpriced at the time, and when the financial crisis hit, the value plummeted, wiping out much of the initial investment. The clock is now ticking toward a February 2019 deadline when a major mortgage payment will come due.

    Since 2011, Kushner and his relatives have been searching the globe for a new investor. As recently as the spring of 2017, Charles Kushner, Jared’s father, asked former Qatari prime minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to invest in the building. Then in April 2017, Charles Kushner made a direct pitch to the Qatari government through the country’s minister of finance.

    Qatar rejected the deal as not financially viable. In May, Trump traveled to Riyadh with Kushner, where the famous glowing orb photo was taken. In the wake of the meeting, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and a handful of allied countries announced the blockade of rival Qatar, accusing it of fomenting terror. The crisis continues today.


    ———-

    “Saudi Crown Prince Boasted That Jared Kushner Was “In His Pocket”” by Alex Emmons, Ryan Grim, Clayton Swisher
    ; The Intercept; 03/21/2018

    “Until he was stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February, presidential adviser Jared Kushner was known around the White House as one of the most voracious readers of the President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified rundown of the latest intelligence intended only for the president and his closest advisers.

    So Jared got to read the president’s Daily Briefs for a whole year before getting stripped of his security clearance in February. It was clearly one year too many.

    Then, in October 2017, Jared makes an unannounced trip to Riyadh. Following that trip, MBS reportedly tells confidants that Jared discussed the names of disloyal Saudis. A week later, MBS starts his ‘anti-corruption crackdown’:


    Kushner, who had been tasked with bringing about a deal between Israel and Palestine, was particularly engaged by information about the Middle East, according to a former White House official and a former U.S. intelligence professional.

    In June, Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman ousted his cousin, then-Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, and took his place as next in line to the throne, upending the established line of succession. In the months that followed, the President’s Daily Brief contained information on Saudi Arabia’s evolving political situation, including a handful of names of royal family members opposed to the crown prince’s power grab, according to the former White House official and two U.S. government officials with knowledge of the report. Like many others interviewed for this story, they declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about sensitive matters to the press.

    In late October, Jared Kushner made an unannounced trip to Riyadh, catching some intelligence officials off guard. “The two princes are said to have stayed up until nearly 4 a.m. several nights, swapping stories and planning strategy,” the Washington Post’s David Ignatius reported at the time.

    What exactly Kushner and the Saudi royal talked about in Riyadh may be known only to them, but after the meeting, Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families since the crackdown. Kushner, through his attorney’s spokesperson, denies having done so.

    On November 4, a week after Kushner returned to the U.S., the crown prince, known in official Washington by his initials MBS, launched what he called an anti-corruption crackdown. The Saudi government arrested dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and imprisoned them in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which was first reported in English by The Intercept. The Saudi figures named in the President’s Daily Brief were among those rounded up; at least one was reportedly tortured.

    And one of the people MBS reportedly confided in about his talks with Kushner with the UAE’s MBZ, who is also notoriously close to the Trump team at this point:


    It is likely that Crown Prince Mohammed would have known who his critics were without Kushner mentioning them, a U.S. government official who declined to be identified pointed out. The crown prince may also have had his own reasons for saying that Kushner shared information with him, even if that wasn’t true. Just the appearance that Kushner did so would send a powerful message to the crown prince’s allies and enemies that his actions were backed by the U.S. government.

    One of the people MBS told about the discussion with Kushner was UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to a source who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers. MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was “in his pocket,” the source told The Intercept.

    It’s worth noting that the source for the above fun fact is described as someone “who talks frequently to confidants of the Saudi and Emirati rulers.” You have to wonder if that’s George Nader.

    Kushner is so close to the Saudi and UAE crown princes that he apparently communicates with them directly using WhatsApp. Jared appears to be the main point of contact between the US and Saudi government at this point, a sentiment shared by Rex Tillerson:


    Indeed, Kushner has grown so close to the Saudi and Emirati crown princes that he has communicated with them directly using WhatsApp, a reasonably secure messaging app owned by Facebook and popular in the Middle East, according to a senior Western official and a source close to the Saudi royal family.

    Asked about Kushner’s use of WhatsApp to communicate with foreign officials, his attorney’s spokesperson Mirijanian said, “Without commenting on who he talks with and how he does his work, Mr. Kushner is in conformity with the Presidential Records Act and other rules.” Kushner’s attorneys have since told him not to use the app for official business, according to a source with direct knowledge of the exchange.

    Kushner’s unconventional communications with regional leaders excluded diplomats during the summer of 2017, when Saudi Arabia and the UAE initiated an economic blockade aimed at weakening their Gulf neighbor Qatar. Tillerson’s attempts to mediate the crisis were quickly undercut by Trump and Kushner, who supported the blockade. Three State Department officials told The Intercept that Tillerson was largely in the dark about Kushner’s communications with MBS during that period.

    In the wake of MBS’s crackdown in Saudi Arabia, the National Security Council’s policy coordination committee suggested that Tillerson intervene and try to reason with the crown prince, according to a former White House official and a former State Department official. Tillerson declined, telling colleagues doing so would be “pointless” given that Kushner was already in close and direct contact with him.

    It’s also worth noting that President Trump actually has the legal authority to allow Kushner to disclose the information in his Daily Briefs, so it’s very possible Trump told Kushner to reveal these names. He was certainly quite supportive of the ‘anti-corruption’ crackdown that follow the meeting with Kushner:


    Access to the President’s Daily Brief is tightly guarded, but Trump has the legal authority to allow Kushner to disclose information contained in it. If Kushner discussed names with MBS as an approved tactic of U.S. foreign policy, the move would be a striking intervention by the U.S. into an unfolding power struggle at the top levels of an allied nation. If Kushner discussed the names with the Saudi prince without presidential authorization, however, he may have violated federal laws around the sharing of classified intelligence.

    On November 6, two days after the detentions in the Ritz began, Trump took to Twitter to defend the crackdown:

    I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing….— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017

    ….Some of those they are harshly treating have been “milking” their country for years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2017

    In a foreshadow to the torture murder of Khashoggi, ine of the victims of that crackdown was also tortured to death: Maj. Gen. Ali al-Qahtani:


    In the months that followed, the arrestees were coerced into signing over billions in personal assets to the Saudi government. In December, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Maj. Gen. Ali al-Qahtani had been tortured to death in the Ritz. Qahtani’s body showed signs of mistreatment, including a neck that was “twisted unnaturally as though it had been broken,” bruises, and “burn marks that appeared to be from electric shocks,” the New York Times reported earlier this month.

    So we have a report from back in March about Jared handing MBS the names of disloyal Saudis shortly before ‘anti-corruption’ crackdown. And now we have comments from one of Erdogan’s advisers speculating that Khashoggi represented “focal point of an alternative governing power.” Did Jared tip off MBS about a Muslim Brotherhood regime change operation to be led by Khashoggi? Might this explain all the reports indicating that the Saudi hit team almost immediately began torturing and dismembering Khashoggi and he was dead within minutes? Because it sure doesn’t sound like they had many questions for him. Which suggests they already had all the answers they needed. Answers possibly provided by Jared.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 18, 2018, 1:48 pm

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