Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #1028 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

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

Ibn Khal­dun: Mus­lim Broth­er­hood eco­nom­ics role mod­el, regard­ed by the IMF as the first advo­cate of pri­va­ti­za­tion

Intro­duc­tion: Updat­ing pre­vi­ous paths of inquiry, as well as intro­duc­ing new ones, the pro­gram begins with a bit of both–discussion of the mur­der of Sau­di jour­nal­ist and pos­si­ble Sau­di and U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cer Jamal Khashog­gi. A devel­op­ment which res­onates strong­ly with pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sion of the so-called “Arab Spring” (read “Mus­lim Broth­er­hood Spring”), the cor­po­ratist eco­nom­ics of Ibn Khal­dun and the Broth­er­hood, and Grover Norquist and Karl Rove’s Islam­ic Free Mar­ket Insti­tute (which fig­ures promi­nent­ly in the post‑9/11 Oper­a­tion Green Quest inves­ti­ga­tion into al-Qae­da and ter­ror­ist financ­ing), Khashog­gi’s death has occa­sioned howls of out­rage, much beat­ing of breasts and tear­ing of hair in nor­mal­ly Sau­di-friend­ly con­fines both inside, and out­side of the U.S.

Khashog­gi’s many con­nec­tions and per­son­al and insti­tu­tion­al rela­tion­ships are impor­tant and piv­otal in a num­ber of ways. They include:

  1. Khashog­gi’s long-stand­ing advo­ca­cy of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Note the main­stream medi­a’s mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as “demo­c­ra­t­ic.” In FTR #‘s 787, 1025 and 1026, we not­ed how fun­da­men­tal­ly unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic the Broth­er­hood is: ” . . . . 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 polit­i­calIslam is a part of it.’. . . .”  
  2. Alleged­ly actu­al mem­ber­ship in the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood” . . . .  Sev­er­al of his friends say that ear­ly on Mr. Khashog­gi also joined the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. . . .”
  3. A work­ing pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship with Khaled Saf­fu­ri, the co-founder of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove’s Islam­ic Free Mar­ket Insti­tute. This insti­tu­tion was, in effect, an Amer­i­can nexus for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and its lais­sez-faire/­cor­po­ratist eco­nom­ics, as well as being a cen­tral ele­ment in the Oper­a­tion Green Quest inves­ti­ga­tion. We cov­ered Oper­a­tion Green Quest at length in numer­ous pro­grams, includ­ing FTR #‘s 356, 357, 462, 464, 513, 1006 ” . . . . 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. . . . 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. . . .”
  4. Turkey’s Tayyip Erdo­gan, who might be described as a fas­cist wish­bone, with one foot in the Islam­ic fas­cist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the oth­er in the sec­u­lar Pan-Turk­ist fas­cism of the Nation­al Action Par­ty and the Grey Wolves” . . . . 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 Broth­er­hoodMr. Khashog­gi knew Pres­i­dent Erdo­gan per­son­al­ly and was a friend to some of his clos­est advis­ers, say peo­ple who knew him. . . .”
  5. Prince Tur­ki al-Faisal, the head of Sau­di intel­li­gence, who, as dis­cussed in numer­ous shows, includ­ing FTR #‘s 347 and 358, basi­cal­ly ran Osama bin Laden. Khashog­gi was also close to Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, at one time the sec­ond largest stock­hold­er in News­corp (behind the Mur­dochs) and some­one “20th hijack­er” Zacarias Mous­saoui named as one of the promi­nent Saud­is who financed al-Qae­da. Imme­di­ate­ly after being named by Mous­saoui, al-Waleed announced that he was donat­ing all of his bil­lions to char­i­ty. ” . . . . 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. . . .”
  6. Osama bin Laden and sup­port for the Afghan Muja­hadeen, who mor­phed into al-Qae­da. ” . . . . 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. . . .”
  7. Khashog­gi was the nephew of Sau­di weapons deal­er Adnan Khashog­gi, who was piv­otal­ly involved with the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal, the sup­port effort for the Afghan Muja­hadeen, Al-Qae­da and the so-called “Truther” move­ment. ” . . . . His uncle was Adnan Khashog­gi, a famous arms deal­er,

    Hamas Sol­diers Salut­ing (Hamas is the Pales­tin­ian branch of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood)

    although Jamal Khashog­gi did not ben­e­fit from his uncle’s wealth. . . .”

His rela­tion­ship with Sau­di intel­li­gence chief Prince Tur­ki (who “ran” Osama bin Laden for a time), his role in the Afghan war cov­er­ing bin Laden and the Muja­hadeen and his work for the CIA-con­nect­ed Wash­ing­ton Post sug­gest the dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty that the late Jamal Khashog­gi was a spook-jour­nal­ist, work­ing for both the Saud­is and ele­ments of CIA.

In FTR #1015, we not­ed the issu­ing of school text­books glo­ri­fy­ing Nazism while Naren­dra Modi head­ed the Indi­an state of Gujarat.

In FTR #998, among oth­er pro­grams, we not­ed John Cony­ers’ active oppo­si­tion to the OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions in pow­er in Ukraine, and his ouster by the #MeToo move­ment, which dis­plays symp­to­matic fea­tures of an “op.” Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est is the appar­ent role of Far right blog­ger Mike “Misog­y­ny Gets You Laid” Cer­novich. An inter­est­ing per­son to sig­nal the destruc­tion of one of the few active­ly anti-fas­cist law­mak­ers by on osten­si­bly “pro­gres­sive” polit­i­cal move­ment.

It is inter­est­ing and sig­nif­i­cant that Cony­ers also co-spon­sored a House Res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Mod­i’s sup­port for Nazi racism and ide­ol­o­gy.

” . . . . The spon­sor, Rep. John Cony­ers (D‑MI) said the State Depart­ment ‘has dis­cussed the role of Modi and his gov­ern­ment in pro­mot­ing atti­tudes of racial suprema­cy, racial hatred, and the lega­cy of Nazism through his government’s sup­port of school text­books in which Nazism is glo­ri­fied.’ The res­o­lu­tion said Modi revised school text­books, which men­tioned the ‘charis­mat­ic per­son­al­i­ty of Hitler the Supre­mo’ and failed to acknowl­edge the hor­rors of the Holo­caust. . . .”

Worth not­ing in this con­text is the fact that Pierre Omid­yar active­ly assist­ed the rise of both the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine and Mod­i’s BJP/RSS fas­cists in India, as dis­cussed in FTR #889.

Next, we begin dis­cus­sion of white suprema­cy, eugen­ics and anti-immi­gra­tion policy–a top­ic to which we will return at greater length in our next pro­gram.

A 14-word post­ing on the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty web­site has raised eye­brows. We believe it is an exam­ple of dog-whistling by fascist/Nazi ele­ments inside of the DHS. The “Four­teen Words” were mint­ed by Order mem­ber and Alan Berg mur­der get­away dri­ver David Lane. “88” is a well-known clan­des­tine Nazi salute. In the imme­di­ate after­math of World War II, using the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler” was banned. To cir­cum­vent that, Nazis said “88,” because H is the eighth let­ter in the alpha­bet.

The 14 Words” slo­gan reads: “We must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and a future for white chil­dren.” The DHS post­ing is titled “We Must Secure The Bor­der And Build The Wall To Make Amer­i­ca Safe Again.”

The num­bers 14 and 88 are often com­bined by Nazis.

In arti­cles below, we note the inclu­sion of ele­ments in the DHS for whom such atti­tudes would be expect­ed.

It comes as no sur­prise that a for­mer DHS Trump appointee had doc­u­ment­ed links with white suprema­cists.

Ian Smith was not alone. John Feee and Julie Kirch­en­er–both hard line anti-immi­gra­tion activists–have been hired by Team Trump. ” . . . . Jon Feere, a for­mer legal pol­i­cy ana­lyst for the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, or CIS, has been hired as an advis­er to Thomas D. Homan, the act­ing direc­tor of Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment, accord­ing to Home­land Secu­ri­ty spokesman David Lapan. At Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, Julie Kirch­n­er, the for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an advis­er to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion act­ing Com­mis­sion­er Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan. The hir­ing of Feere and Kirch­n­er at the fed­er­al agen­cies has alarmed immi­grants’ rights activists. CIS and FAIR are think tanks based in Wash­ing­ton that advo­cate restrict­ing legal and ille­gal immi­gra­tion. The two orga­ni­za­tions were found­ed by John Tan­ton, a retired Michi­gan oph­thal­mol­o­gist who has open­ly embraced eugen­ics, the sci­ence of improv­ing the genet­ic qual­i­ty of the human pop­u­la­tion by encour­ag­ing selec­tive breed­ing and at times, advo­cat­ing for the ster­il­iza­tion of genet­i­cal­ly unde­sir­able groups. . . .”

The Fed­er­a­tion for Immi­gra­tion Reform has been part­ly fund­ed by the Pio­neer Fund, an orga­ni­za­tion that oper­at­ed in favor of the eugen­ics pol­i­cy of Nazi Ger­many. “. . . . Between 1985 and 1994, FAIR received around $1.2 mil­lion in grants from the Pio­neer Fund. The Pio­neer Fund is a eugeni­cist orga­ni­za­tion that was start­ed in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who want­ed to pur­sue “race bet­ter­ment” by pro­mot­ing the genet­ic lines of Amer­i­can whites. Now led by race sci­en­tist J. Philippe Rush­ton, the fund con­tin­ues to back stud­ies intend­ed to reveal the infe­ri­or­i­ty of minori­ties to whites. . . .”

An arti­cle cit­ed, but not excerpt­ed, in the audio por­tion of the pro­gram notes the role of the scape­goat­ing of immi­gra­tion in the rise of neo­fas­cist par­ties. The dev­as­ta­tion from the mid­dle East wars–Syria in particular–has dri­ven large num­bers of des­per­ate refugees to Europe. This plays beau­ti­ful­ly into the polit­i­cal agen­da of so-called “pop­ulists” who cite them as the rea­son for the imple­men­ta­tion of what is essen­tial­ly a xeno­pho­bic plat­form.

What this arti­cle does NOT men­tion is that one of the Swe­den Democ­rats’ most promi­nent finan­cial backer is Carl Lund­strom, who was also the main finan­cial backer of the Pirate Bay web­site that host­ed Wik­ileaks.

On CNN for­mer Repub­li­can sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum thought the big sto­ry of the day on which Man­afort was con­vict­ed and Michael Cohen plead guilty was the first degree mur­der charge laid against an “ille­gal” Mex­i­can migrant work­er fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of a deceased white Iowa col­lege girl Mol­lie Tib­betts. Can this become a ral­ly­ing cry for Trump and his anti-immi­grant and racist dead enders?

We note in this con­text that:

  1. The announce­ment of River­a’s arrest for the Tib­betts mur­der hap­pened on the same day that Paul Man­afort’s con­vic­tion was announced and Michael Cohen plead­ed guilty. Might we be look­ing at an “op,” intend­ed to eclipse the neg­a­tive pub­lic­i­ty from the the Manafort/Cohen judi­cial events?
  2. Rivera exhib­it­ed pos­si­ble symp­toms of being sub­ject­ed to mind con­trol, not unlike Sirhan Sirhan. ” . . . . Inves­ti­ga­tors say Rivera fol­lowed Mol­lie in his dark Chevy Mal­ibu as she went for a run around 7.30pm on July 18. He ‘blacked out’ and attacked her after she threat­ened to call the police unless he left her alone, offi­cers said. . . . It is not yet clear how Mol­lie died. . . . Rivera told police that after see­ing her, he pulled over and parked his car to get out and run with her. . . . Mol­lie grabbed her phone and threat­ened to call the police before run­ning off ahead. The sus­pect said that made him ‘pan­ic’ and he chased after her. That’s when he ‘blacked out.’ He claims he remem­bers noth­ing from then until he was back in his car, dri­ving. He then noticed one of her ear­phones sit­ting on his lap and blood in the car then remem­bered he’d stuffed her in the truck. . . . ‘He fol­lowed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that par­tic­u­lar day. For what­ev­er rea­son he chose to abduct her,’ Iowa Depart­ment of Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion spe­cial agent Rick Ryan said on Tues­day after­noon. . . . ‘Rivera stat­ed that she grabbed her phone and said: ‘I’m gonna call the police.’ . . . . ‘Rivera said he then pan­icked and he got mad and that he ‘blocked’ his mem­o­ry which is what he does when he gets very upset and does­n’t remem­ber any­thing after that until he came to at an inter­sec­tion.’ . . .”
  3. Just as Sirhan had been in a right-wing milieu pri­or to the Robert Kennedy assas­si­na­tion, so, too, was Rivera: ” . . . . The promi­nent Repub­li­can fam­i­ly which owns the farm where Mol­lie Tib­betts’ alleged killer worked have insist­ed that he passed back­ground checks for migrant work­ers. Christhi­an Rivera, 24, who is from Mex­i­co, was charged with first degree mur­der on Tues­day after lead­ing police to a corn field where Mol­lie’s body was dumped. Dane Lang, co-own­er of Yarrabee Farms along with Eric Lang, con­firmed that Rivera had worked there for four years and was an employ­ee ‘of good stand­ing.’ Dane’s broth­er is Craig Lang, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion and the Iowa Board of Regents, and a 2018 Repub­li­can can­di­date for state sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture. . . .”
  4. Trump cit­ed the Tib­betts mur­der in a Charleston, West Vir­ginia, ral­ly that day: ” . . . . Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump chirped in dur­ing his Tues­day address at a ral­ly in Charleston, West Vir­ginia, blam­ing immi­gra­tion laws for Mol­lie’s death. ‘You heard about today with the ille­gal alien com­ing in very sad­ly from Mex­i­co,’ he said. ‘And you saw what hap­pened to that incred­i­ble beau­ti­ful young woman. ‘Should’ve nev­er hap­pened, ille­gal­ly in our coun­try. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad. The immi­gra­tion laws are such a dis­grace. ‘We are get­ting them changed but we have to get more Repub­li­cans.’ Gov. Kim Reynolds com­plained about the ‘bro­ken’ immi­gra­tion sys­tem that allowed a ‘preda­tor’ to live in her state. . . .”

The pro­gram con­cludes with review of Sirhan, whom we will review, again, at greater length in our next pro­gram.

Under hyp­no­sis, Sirhan was able to recall a con­sid­er­able amount of infor­ma­tion about “the girl in the pol­ka-dot dress”–a fig­ure report­ed by many eye­wit­ness­es to have cel­e­brat­ed the assas­si­na­tion of Robert Kennedy and appeared to have impli­cat­ed her­self and oth­ers in the crime. Note sim­i­lar­i­ties between Chris­ti­han River­a’s descrip­tion of his attrac­tion to Mol­lie Tib­betts and Sirhan’s descrip­tion of his attrac­tion to the girl in the pol­ka-dot dress.

1. Among Jamal Khashog­gi’s many con­nec­tions are:

  1. A strong affil­i­a­tion with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. ” . . . . 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. . . .”
  2. A work­ing pro­fes­sion­al rela­tion­ship with Khaled Saf­fu­ri, the co-founder of Grover Norquist and Karl Rove’s Islam­ic Free Mar­ket Insti­tute: ” . . . . 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. . . . 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. . . .”

“Miss­ing Sau­di Writer Had Big Plans for His Trou­bled Region” by Sarah El Deeb; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 10/12/2018

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.”

2. More about Khashog­gi’s many rela­tion­ships:

  1. Again, he was a major advo­cate on behalf of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Note the main­stream medi­a’s mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as “demo­c­ra­t­ic.” In FTR #‘s 787, 1025 and 1026, we not­ed how fun­da­men­tal­ly unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic the Broth­er­hood is: ” . . . . 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.’. . . .”  
     . . .”
  2. He was close to Turkey’s Erdo­gan, who might be described as a fas­cist wish­bone, with one foot in the Islam­ic fas­cist Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the oth­er in the sec­u­lar Pan-Turk­ist fas­cism of the Nation­al Action Par­ty and the Grey Wolves” . . . . 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 Broth­er­hoodMr. Khashog­gi knew Pres­i­dent Erdo­gan per­son­al­ly and was a friend to some of his clos­est advis­ers, say peo­ple who knew him. . . .”
  3. Khashog­gi was very close to Prince Tur­ki al-Faisal, the head of Sau­di intel­li­gence, who, as dis­cussed in numer­ous shows, includ­ing FTR #‘s 347 and 358, basi­cal­ly ran Osama bin Laden. Khashog­gi was also close to Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, at one time the sec­ond largest stock­hold­er in News­corp (behind the Mur­dochs) and some­one “20th hijack­er” Zacarias Mous­saoui named as one of the promi­nent Saud­is who financed al-Qae­da. Imme­di­ate­ly after being named by Mous­saoui, al-Waleed announced that he was donat­ing all of his bil­lions to char­i­ty. ” . . . . 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. . . .”
  4. Khashog­gi was a jour­nal­is­tic asso­ciate of Osama bin Laden and a sup­port­er of the Afghan Muja­hadeen, who mor­phed into al-Qae­da. ” . . . . 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. . . .”

“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

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. . . . .

3. Khashog­gi was the nephew of Iran-Con­tra weapons deal­er Adnan Khashog­gi, him­self a financier of al-Qae­da, as well as being a lat­er financier of the so-called “Truther” move­ment that obscures Sau­di involve­ment in the 9/11 attacks. ” . . . . His uncle was Adnan Khashog­gi, a famous arms deal­er, although Jamal Khashog­gi did not ben­e­fit from his uncle’s wealth. . . .”

He also is report­ed to have actu­al­ly joined the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. ” . . . .  Sev­er­al of his friends say that ear­ly on Mr. Khashog­gi also joined the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. . . .”

“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

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 min­is­terand 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.” . . . .

4. In FTR #1015, we not­ed the issu­ing of school text­books glo­ri­fy­ing Nazism while Naren­dra Modi head­ed the Indi­an state of Gujarat.

In FTR #998, among oth­er pro­grams, we not­ed John Cony­ers’ active oppo­si­tion to the OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions in pow­er in Ukraine, and his ouster by the #MeToo move­ment, which dis­plays symp­to­matic fea­tures of an “op.” Of par­tic­u­lar inter­est is the appar­ent role of Far right blog­ger Mike “Misog­y­ny Gets You Laid” Cer­novich. An inter­est­ing per­son to sig­nal the destruc­tion of one of the few active­ly anti-fas­cist law­mak­ers by on osten­si­bly “pro­gres­sive” polit­i­cal move­ment.

It is inter­est­ing and sig­nif­i­cant that Modi also co-spon­sored a House Res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Mod­i’s sup­port for Nazi racism and ide­ol­o­gy.

” . . . . The spon­sor, Rep. John Cony­ers (D‑MI) said the State Depart­ment ‘has dis­cussed the role of Modi and his gov­ern­ment in pro­mot­ing atti­tudes of racial suprema­cy, racial hatred, and the lega­cy of Nazism through his government’s sup­port of school text­books in which Nazism is glo­ri­fied.’ The res­o­lu­tion said Modi revised school text­books, which men­tioned the ‘charis­mat­ic per­son­al­i­ty of Hitler the Supre­mo’ and failed to acknowl­edge the hor­rors of the Holo­caust. . . .”

Worth not­ing in this con­text is the fact that Pierre Omid­yar active­ly assist­ed the rise of both the OUN/B fas­cists in Ukraine and Mod­i’s BJP/RSS fas­cists in India, as dis­cussed in FTR #889.

“Top Repub­li­can Denies Asso­ci­a­tion with Banned Hin­du Suprema­cist” by John Hud­son; For­eign Pol­i­cy; 11/19/2013.

. . . . The State Depart­ment deci­sion pre­cip­i­tat­ed a res­o­lu­tion by the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to con­demn a range of Modi’s actions, includ­ing pro­mot­ing Nazi ide­ol­o­gy. The spon­sor, Rep. John Cony­ers (D‑MI) said the State Depart­ment “has dis­cussed the role of Modi and his gov­ern­ment in pro­mot­ing atti­tudes of racial suprema­cy, racial hatred, and the lega­cy of Nazism through his government’s sup­port of school text­books in which Nazism is glo­ri­fied.” The res­o­lu­tion said Modi revised school text­books, which men­tioned the “charis­mat­ic per­son­al­i­ty of Hitler the Supre­mo” and failed to acknowl­edge the hor­rors of the Holo­caust. . . .

5. A 14-word post­ing on the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty web­site has raised eye­brows. We believe it is an exam­ple of dog-whistling by fascist/Nazi ele­ments inside of the DHS. The “Four­teen Words” were mint­ed by Order mem­ber and Alan Berg mur­der get­away dri­ver David Lane. “88” is a well-known clan­des­tine Nazi salute. In the imme­di­ate after­math of World War II, using the Nazi salute “Heil Hitler” was banned. To cir­cum­vent that, Nazis said “88,” because H is the eighth let­ter in the alpha­bet.

The num­bers 14 and 88 are often com­bined by Nazis.

In arti­cles below, we note the inclu­sion of ele­ments in the DHS for whom such atti­tudes would be expect­ed.

“Are ‘14’ and ‘88’ Nazi Dog Whis­tles in Bor­der Secu­ri­ty Document–Or Just Num­bers?” by Aviya Kush­n­er; For­ward; 6/28/2018. 

Some­times a dog whis­tle can be a num­ber, not a word. The num­ber “88” appeared in a strange con­text in a press release from Home­land Secu­ri­ty call­ing for build­ing a bor­der wall, along with a head­line that had a total of four­teen words — but until today, no one seems to have noticed.

Today, the press release, orig­i­nal­ly issued in Feb­ru­ary, is get­ting some atten­tion from jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the “hate and extrem­ism” beat. Here is an exam­ple, from Christo­pher Math­ias, who cov­ers hate and extrem­ism for The Huff­in­g­ton Post.

What is hap­pen­ing, for those need­ing a trans­la­tion, is this: The num­ber “88” is code for Heil Hitler. And 14 is white-suprema­cist short­hand.

“One of the most com­mon white suprema­cist sym­bols, 88 is used through­out the entire white suprema­cist move­ment, not just neo-Nazis. One can find it as a tat­too or graph­ic sym­bol; as part of the name of a group, pub­li­ca­tion or web­site; or as part of a screen­name or e‑mail address,” the ADL’s hate sym­bol data­base notes.

Most of the press release, titled “We Must Secure The Bor­der And Build The Wall To Make Amer­i­ca Safe Again,” uses per­cent­ages, as do many sta­tis­ti­cal reports.

But the sec­ond-to-last line is what is draw­ing atten­tion on Twit­ter, because it has this curi­ous word­ing: “On aver­age, out of 88 claims that pass the cred­i­ble fear screen­ing, few­er than 13 will ulti­mate­ly result in a grant of asy­lum.”

That’s odd. Nor­mal­ly, a report might say some­thing like “less than 15 per­cent ulti­mate­ly result in a grant of asy­lum.”

It may just be coin­ci­dence, and on a day when jour­nal­ists are shot, every­one with a con­nec­tion to media is under­stand­ably on edge. But there is one oth­er fac­tor to con­sid­er, say those who hear a dog whis­tle: what if this “88” is read in con­junc­tion with the head­line, which has 14 words?

The 14-word thing is its own sig­nal. As the ADL hate sym­bol data­base explains in its unpack­ing of 88:

The num­ber is fre­quent­ly com­bined with anoth­er white suprema­cist numer­ic code, 14 (short­hand for the so-called “14 Words” slo­gan: “We must secure the exis­tence of our peo­ple and a future for white chil­dren”) in the form of 1488, 14/88, 14–88, or 8814.

That slo­gan can be under­stood as some­thing not very far from the press release head­line: “We Must Secure The Bor­der And Build The Wall To Make Amer­i­ca Safe Again.”

Coin­ci­dence? Maybe.

But a numer­i­cal sys­tem of inter­pre­ta­tion can be a way for a group to com­mu­ni­cate with itself. In Jew­ish tra­di­tion, gema­tria is one sys­tem of Bib­li­cal com­men­tary. Each let­ter in the Hebrew alpha­bet has a numer­i­cal val­ue, and some com­men­ta­tors use this sym­bol of num­bers to arrive at addi­tion­al mean­ings. Some see pro­found mean­ing in this, oth­ers have always dis­missed it as mere coin­ci­dence.

In the case of the DHS press release, it may be coin­ci­dence — or it may be more, a sig­nal to those who know the sys­tem of codes.

What can be said for sure is this: It is unusu­al to use the sta­tis­tic “13 out of 88.” It could, of course, be a typo. And the head­line bear­ing the req­ui­site “14 words” is not sooth­ing for any­one who has spent time with hate data­bas­es.

But right now, those are the only def­i­nite take-aways.

In a time of fear and anx­i­ety, it is impor­tant to take extra care before draw­ing con­clu­sions. Still, from now on, it may be wise to watch the num­bers, not just the words.

6. It comes as no sur­prise that a for­mer DHS Trump appointee had doc­u­ment­ed links with white suprema­cists.

“Emails Link For­mer Home­land Secu­ri­ty Offi­cial to White Nation­al­ists” by Rosie Gray; The Atlantic; 08/28/2018.

In the past two years, lead­ers of an embold­ened white nation­al­ism have burst into the fore­front of nation­al pol­i­tics and coa­lesced around a so-called alt-right sub­cul­ture as they have endeav­ored to make their ide­ol­o­gy part of the main­stream. Recent devel­op­ments have shed light on pre­vi­ous­ly unknown con­nec­tions between white-nation­al­ist activists and the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. Now, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty has denounced “all forms of vio­lent extrem­ism” fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of a pol­i­cy ana­lyst who had con­nec­tions with white nation­al­ists, accord­ing to leaked emails obtained by The Atlantic.

The emails show that the offi­cial, Ian M. Smith, had in the past been in con­tact with a group that includ­ed known white nation­al­ists as they planned var­i­ous events. On one of the email threads, the address of the alt-right white nation­al­ist leader Richard Spencer is includ­ed, as well as Smith’s. Anoth­er group of recip­i­ents includes Smith as well as Jared Tay­lor, the founder of the white nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tion Amer­i­can Renais­sance, who calls him­self a “white advo­cate.”

The mes­sages, giv­en to The Atlantic by a source to whom they were for­ward­ed, paint a pic­ture of the social scene in which white nation­al­ists gath­ered for an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” night in 2016, and orga­nized din­ner par­ties and vis­its from out-of-town friends. And they pro­vide a glimpse into how a group that includ­ed hard-core white nation­al­ists was able to oper­ate rel­a­tive­ly incog­ni­to in the wider world, par­tic­u­lar­ly in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles. The rev­e­la­tion of these mes­sages comes amid increas­ing scruti­ny of white nation­al­ists’ ties to the admin­is­tra­tion; a White House speech­writer, Dar­ren Beat­tie, left the admin­is­tra­tion after CNN report­ed ear­li­er this month that he had attend­ed a con­fer­ence with white nation­al­ists in 2016. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­edlast week that Peter Brimelow, the pub­lish­er of the white nation­al­ist web­site VDare, had attend­ed a par­ty at the top White House eco­nom­ic advis­er Lar­ry Kudlow’s house. Kud­low told the Post he was unaware of Brimelow’s views and would not have invit­ed him had he known about them.

After being reached for com­ment about The Atlantic’s report­ing, Smith said in an email: “I no longer work at DHS as of last week and didn’t attend any of the events you’ve men­tioned.” Nei­ther he nor DHS dis­put­ed that it is him on the emails in ques­tion.

White nation­al­ists have an affin­i­ty for the pres­i­dent, who they believe shares some of their pol­i­cy pri­or­i­ties. After the coun­ter­pro­test­er Heather Hey­er was killed at a white-nation­al­ist ral­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, in 2017, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump remarked that there were “very fine peo­ple on both sides” who attend­ed the ral­ly. After hear­ing the president’s state­ment, Spencer told The Atlantic he was “real­ly proud of him.”

Accord­ing to sources with knowl­edge of Smith’s role at DHS, he was a pol­i­cy ana­lyst work­ing on immi­gra­tion. He used to work for the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute (IRLI), an anti-immi­gra­tion legal orga­ni­za­tion asso­ci­at­ed with the right-wing Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR). From 2014 to 2017 he wrote a num­ber of columns on immi­gra­tion for Nation­al Review. (The NationalReview.com edi­tor Charles Cooke didn’t imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment).

Smith’s pub­lic writ­ings show­cased a right-wing per­spec­tive on immi­gra­tion, such as oppos­ing the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act of 1965, which end­ed race-based restric­tions on immi­gra­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly from coun­tries in Asia and Africa, and which Smith argued was respon­si­ble for the “bare­ly gov­ern­able sys­tem we have today,” oppos­ing sanc­tu­ary cities, and applaud­ing the con­tro­ver­sial S.B. 1070 anti–illegal immi­gra­tion law in Ari­zona.

In an inter­viewwith the web­site FOIA Advi­sor in 2016, Smith said he “was born just out­side Seat­tle, grew up in Van­cou­ver, British Colum­bia, and lived in Bei­jing, Hong Kong, and Syd­ney, Aus­tralia for many years.” In that inter­view, he described his role at the IRLI thus­ly: “I work at a non­prof­it law firm that rep­re­sents peo­ple harmed by the government’s fail­ure to reg­u­late immi­gra­tion.”

Dale Wilcox, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the IRLI, said in a state­ment: “Ian Smith was an inves­tiga­tive asso­ciate at IRLI, as an inde­pen­dent con­trac­tor for two years and an employ­ee for less than a year between Jan­u­ary 2015 and Octo­ber 2017. How our employ­ees fill their time out­side of the office, or the pri­vate rela­tion­ships they pur­sue, are not issues of IRLI’s con­cern. It is not any organization’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to track their employ­ees after hours activ­i­ties or peer into their employee’s pri­vate lives. For the record, IRLI and FAIR have no asso­ci­a­tion with the indi­vid­u­als men­tioned and we repu­di­ate their views. Fur­ther­more, if it would come to our atten­tion that any employ­ees are asso­ci­at­ed with indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions that hold nox­ious views on mat­ters of race and eth­nic­i­ty, that may be grounds for ter­mi­na­tion. Final­ly, it must be not­ed that sim­ply appear­ing on someone’s email list should nev­er be inter­pret­ed as a blan­ket endorse­ment of that individual’s point of view.”

After describ­ing the emails involv­ing Smith in detail to DHS spokes­peo­ple on Mon­day, The Atlantic learned on Tues­day that Smith had resigned from his posi­tion.

A DHS spokesper­son, Tyler Q. Houl­ton, said: “The Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty is com­mit­ted to com­bat­ing all forms of vio­lent extrem­ism, espe­cial­ly move­ments that espouse racial suprema­cy or big­otry. This type of rad­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy runs counter to the Department’s mis­sion of keep­ing Amer­i­ca safe.”

Sev­er­al emails obtained by The Atlantic show Smith includ­ed on threads with peo­ple asso­ci­at­ed with white nation­al­ism, such as Mar­cus Epstein, a for­mer Tom Tan­cre­do aide who entered an Alford plea in 2009for assault­ing a black woman in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., in 2007, and Devin Sauci­er, an edi­tor (under a pseu­do­nym) at Amer­i­can Renais­sance. Epstein declined to com­ment; Sauci­er did not respond to a request for com­ment.

On June 3, 2016, Epstein emailed a group includ­ing Smith, Sauci­er, Tay­lor, and oth­ers to invite them to an “Alt-Right Toast­mas­ters” event. “We are hav­ing our much delayed fol­low up meet­ing on Mon­day June 6 at 7:00 PM. A cou­ple of out of town guests will be there. Please RSVP and if you want to invite any­one else, please check with me,” Epstein wrote. “I’m going to give a short pre­sen­ta­tion on ‘The Pros and Cons of Anonymi­ty’ at 8:00 fol­lowed by dis­cus­sion.” In a pre­vi­ous email on the sub­ject, Epstein had said he was tim­ing the event for a vis­it from Wayne Lut­ton, the edi­tor of the white-nation­al­ist pub­li­ca­tion The Social Con­tract. Accord­ing to a source who was there, who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, Smith attend­ed this event.

On Decem­ber 17, 2015, Sauci­er and Epstein emailed a YouTube link, which is now defunct, to a group of address­es includ­ing Smith’s and Spencer’s. Reached by phone, Spencer said, “To my knowl­edge, I’ve nev­er met Ian Smith. I get roped in to all sorts of email con­ver­sa­tions, I receive too many emails every day for me to respond to.”

Though the emails don’t show Smith and Spencer inter­act­ing, some of the mes­sages indi­cate a famil­iar­i­ty on Smith’s part with Spencer’s projects. In anoth­er email, sent on March 7, 2015, Smith refers to an event held by “NPI,” the acronym for the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, Spencer’s white-nation­al­ist non­prof­it, say­ing he had missed it because he was out of town. And in anoth­er, on May 9, 2016, Smith rec­om­mend­ed some­one for a job at a promi­nent, Trump-sup­port­ing media out­let, say­ing that the per­son was “cur­rent­ly work­ing in devel­op­ment at LI” (the con­ser­v­a­tive train­ing group the Lead­er­ship Insti­tute) and “writes for Radix, Amren, VDare and Chron­i­cles under a pseu­do­nym.” The word Amren refers to Amer­i­can Renais­sanceRadix is Spencer’s pub­li­ca­tion. “Chron­i­cles” appears to refer to Chron­i­cles Mag­a­zine, anoth­er pub­li­ca­tion asso­ci­at­ed with this move­ment, which has pub­lished Lut­ton and Sam Fran­cis, the late edi­tor of the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens’ newslet­ter. Smith also wrote that the per­son he had rec­om­mend­ed “helps Richard and JT with their web­sites,” appear­ing to refer to Spencer and Jared Tay­lor.

In one email exchange at the end of Octo­ber 2015, Ben Zapp, a real-estate agent who has in the past been pho­tographed with mem­bers of this scene, invit­ed a group includ­ing Smith; Sauci­er; Epstein; Tim Dion­isopou­los, a Media Research Cen­ter staffer; and Kevin DeAn­na, the for­mer Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion pres­i­dent, to his apart­ment for din­ner, stat­ing that he wasn’t going to that weekend’s NPI con­fer­ence. (The 2016 con­fer­ence of NPI is where Spencer was caught on videolead­ing a “Hail Trump” chant while audi­ence mem­bers gave Nazi salutes.) Zapp, Dion­isopou­los, and DeAn­na did not respond to requests for com­ment.

Epstein replied to the thread say­ing he wasn’t going to NPI either but was plan­ning to social­ize with peo­ple who were, and that “I can’t speak for every­one, but this is prob­a­bly not the best time.” Zapp respond­ed, “It’s a din­ner, not a party—thus the hav­ing to get out by 9:30 or 10 at the lat­est. I would imag­ine this would start on the ear­ly side, like 7:00 or even ear­li­er. So it’s settled—we know my home shall remain juden­frei.” Juden­frei is a Ger­man word mean­ing “free of Jews,” which the Nazis used to describe areas from which Jews had been expelled or killed.

Smith respond­ed to the group: “They don’t call it Fre­itag for noth­ing,” using the Ger­man word for “Fri­day,” and added, “I was plan­ning to hit the bar dur­ing the din­ner hours and talk to peo­ple like Matt Par­rot [sic], etc. I should have time to pop by though.” Matt Par­rott is the for­mer spokesman for the neo-Nazi Tra­di­tion­al­ist Work­er Par­ty, which flamed out ear­li­er this year after its leader, Matthew Heim­bach, had an affair with Parrott’s wife, lead­ing to the two falling out.

And in an email from 2014, Smith jok­ing­ly calls “spoon­ing dibs” on Jack Dono­van dur­ing a vis­it from Dono­van, a “mas­culin­ist” writer who has ties to mem­bers of the alt-right and is heav­i­ly involved in Wolves of Vin­land, a neo-pagan group entwined with the white-nation­al­ist move­ment. Sauci­er had emailed sev­er­al peo­ple to dis­cuss sleep­ing arrange­ments for Dono­van, telling them that, “There was some mis­un­der­stand­ing about how Jack Dono­van would arrive down in Lynch­burg for fes­tiv­i­ties this week­end”; the Wolves of Vin­land are based out­side of Lynch­burg, Vir­ginia.

7. Ian Smith was not alone. John Feee and Julie Kirchener–both hard line anti-immi­gra­tion activists–have been hired by Team Trump. ” . . . . Jon Feere, a for­mer legal pol­i­cy ana­lyst for the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, or CIS, has been hired as an advis­er to Thomas D. Homan, the act­ing direc­tor of Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment, accord­ing to Home­land Secu­ri­ty spokesman David Lapan. At Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, Julie Kirch­n­er, the for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an advis­er to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion act­ing Com­mis­sion­er Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan. The hir­ing of Feere and Kirch­n­er at the fed­er­al agen­cies has alarmed immi­grants’ rights activists. CIS and FAIR are think tanks based in Wash­ing­ton that advo­cate restrict­ing legal and ille­gal immi­gra­tion. The two orga­ni­za­tions were found­ed by John Tan­ton, a retired Michi­gan oph­thal­mol­o­gist who has open­ly embraced eugen­ics, the sci­ence of improv­ing the genet­ic qual­i­ty of the human pop­u­la­tion by encour­ag­ing selec­tive breed­ing and at times, advo­cat­ing for the ster­il­iza­tion of genet­i­cal­ly unde­sir­able groups. . . .”

The Fed­er­a­tion for Immi­gra­tion Reform has been part­ly fund­ed by the Pio­neer Fund, an orga­ni­za­tion that oper­at­ed in favor of the eugen­ics pol­i­cy of Nazi Ger­many. “. . . . Between 1985 and 1994, FAIR received around $1.2 mil­lion in grants from the Pio­neer Fund. The Pio­neer Fund is a eugeni­cist orga­ni­za­tion that was start­ed in 1937 by men close to the Nazi regime who want­ed to pur­sue “race bet­ter­ment” by pro­mot­ing the genet­ic lines of Amer­i­can whites. Now led by race sci­en­tist J. Philippe Rush­ton, the fund con­tin­ues to back stud­ies intend­ed to reveal the infe­ri­or­i­ty of minori­ties to whites. . . .”

“Hard-Line Anti-Immi­gra­tion Advo­cates Hired at 2 Fed­er­al Agen­cies” by Maria San­tana; CNN; 4/12/2017.

Two hard-line oppo­nents of ille­gal immi­gra­tion have obtained high-lev­el advi­so­ry jobs at fed­er­al immi­gra­tion agen­cies in the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty.

Jon Feere, a for­mer legal pol­i­cy ana­lyst for the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, or CIS, has been hired as an advis­er to Thomas D. Homan, the act­ing direc­tor of Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment, accord­ing to Home­land Secu­ri­ty spokesman David Lapan.

At Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, Julie Kirch­n­er, the for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform, or FAIR, has been hired as an advis­er to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion act­ing Com­mis­sion­er Kevin McAleenan, said Lapan.

The hir­ing of Feere and Kirch­n­er at the fed­er­al agen­cies has alarmed immi­grants’ rights activists.

CIS and FAIR are think tanks based in Wash­ing­ton that advo­cate restrict­ing legal and ille­gal immi­gra­tion. The two orga­ni­za­tions were found­ed by John Tan­ton, a retired Michi­gan oph­thal­mol­o­gist who has open­ly embraced eugen­ics, the sci­ence of improv­ing the genet­ic qual­i­ty of the human pop­u­la­tion by encour­ag­ing selec­tive breed­ing and at times, advo­cat­ing for the ster­il­iza­tion of genet­i­cal­ly unde­sir­able groups.

Dan Stein, pres­i­dent of FAIR, not­ed in a 2011 New York Times arti­cle that Tan­ton did not hold a lead­er­ship role in the orga­ni­za­tion any more and was no longer on the board of direc­tors. He is still list­ed as belong­ing to FAIR’s nation­al board of advi­sors.

New aides and their con­nec­tions

Kirch­n­er worked as exec­u­tive direc­tor of FAIR from Octo­ber 2005 to August 2015. She then joined the Don­ald Trump pres­i­den­tial cam­paign as an immi­gra­tion advis­er before being appoint­ed to Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion.

While at CIS, Feere pro­mot­ed leg­is­la­tion to end auto­mat­ic cit­i­zen­ship for US-born chil­dren of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants. He argued that bear­ing a child on US soil pro­vides an immi­grant access to wel­fare and oth­er social ben­e­fits, which has spurred a rise in what he calls “birth tourism,” the prac­tice of for­eign­ers trav­el­ing to the Unit­ed States to give birth to add a US cit­i­zen to the fam­i­ly.

The non­par­ti­san fact-check­ing web­site Poli­ti­fact has most­ly debunked those claims, con­clud­ing that US-born chil­dren do lit­tle in the long term to help their immi­grant par­ents. Cit­i­zen chil­dren can­not spon­sor their par­ents for cit­i­zen­ship until the young per­son turns 21 and any social ben­e­fits would be giv­en to the child and not their undoc­u­ment­ed par­ents, who would not qual­i­fy. The Pew Research Cen­ter also has found that the num­ber of babies born to unau­tho­rized immi­grants in the Unit­ed States has been declin­ing steadi­ly in recent years.

Feere also has been a strong crit­ic of Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals, the pro­gram enact­ed by Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma via exec­u­tive action that has grant­ed pro­tec­tion from depor­ta­tion to young immi­grants brought to the coun­try as chil­dren.

In one arti­cle pub­lished by CIS, Feere ques­tioned whether chil­dren brought to the Unit­ed States at an ear­ly age were suf­fi­cient­ly assim­i­lat­ed or loy­al to this nation to be grant­ed any type of legal sta­tus.

In a 2013 inter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post, Mark Kriko­ri­an, exec­u­tive direc­tor of CIS, wor­ried about grow­ing “mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism” and con­tend­ed that a “lot of immi­gra­tion push­ers don’t like Amer­i­ca the way it is” and want to change it.

Stein, the pres­i­dent of FAIR, defend­ed in a 1997 inter­view with the Wall Street Jour­nal his belief that cer­tain immi­grant groups are engaged in “com­pet­i­tive breed­ing” to dimin­ish Amer­i­ca’s white major­i­ty.

“CIS has pub­lished arti­cles that labeled immi­grants ‘third world gold dig­gers’ and that blamed Cen­tral Amer­i­can asy­lum seek­ers for the ‘bur­geon­ing street gang prob­lem’ in the US, while Dan Stein has said that many immi­grants that come to the US hate Amer­i­ca and every­thing the coun­try stands for,” said Hei­di Beirich, direc­tor of South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter’s Intel­li­gence Project, which over­sees the cen­ter’s year­ly count of anti-immi­grant groups. “We take these des­ig­na­tions very seri­ous­ly, and CIS and FAIR are far-right fringe groups that reg­u­lar­ly pub­lish racist, xeno­pho­bic mate­r­i­al and spread mis­in­for­ma­tion about immi­grants and immi­gra­tion.”

Through­out the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and since he’s tak­en office, Don­ald Trump’s immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy has mir­rored details found in CIS reports. In April 2016, for exam­ple, CIS pub­lished a list of “79 immi­gra­tion actions that the next pres­i­dent can take.” The list includ­ed such mea­sures as with­hold­ing fed­er­al funds from sanc­tu­ary cities, elim­i­nat­ing the “Pri­or­i­ty Enforce­ment Pro­gram,” which pri­or­i­tized the depor­ta­tion of the most seri­ous crim­i­nals dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, and reduc­ing the num­ber of wel­fare-depen­dent immi­grants liv­ing in the Unit­ed States.

Many of these rec­om­men­da­tions have already been enact­ed, pro­posed or dis­cussed by the admin­is­tra­tion, and some were includ­ed in Trump’s exec­u­tive order on immi­gra­tion issued in Jan­u­ary.

“The cam­paign and the admin­is­tra­tion have used oth­er mate­r­i­al of ours so I’m delight­ed that they are using that immi­gra­tion actions list,” Kriko­ri­an said. “But there’s a dif­fer­ence between using CIS’ mate­r­i­al as source of impor­tant research and CIS actu­al­ly hav­ing a direct oper­a­tional link to the admin­is­tra­tion.”

Kriko­ri­an declined to com­ment on Feere’s job at ICE.

Feere, Kirch­n­er, act­ing ICE Direc­tor Homan and act­ing Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion­er McAleenan declined requests for inter­views.

Kirch­n­er and Feere’s advi­so­ry roles at Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion and ICE have rat­tled some immi­grants’ rights advo­cates, who say they are con­cerned by the new­found pow­er and influ­ence far-right nativist groups have gained with­in the gov­ern­ment since Trump came into office.

“These groups have spent 20 years look­ing for ways that they could hurt immi­grants and now they’ve been giv­en the keys to the king­dom,” said Lynn Tra­monte, deputy direc­tor of Amer­i­ca’s Voice, a pro-immi­grant advo­ca­cy group based in Wash­ing­ton whose goal is to cre­ate a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants.

Some pro-immi­grant advo­cates already sense a grow­ing break­down in their abil­i­ty to effec­tive­ly get infor­ma­tion from ICE.

“There is this gen­er­al, very harsh sense with­in the non­prof­it advo­ca­cy com­mu­ni­ty that we are being entire­ly shut out on every­thing from engage­ment on pol­i­cy all the way to indi­vid­ual immi­grant cas­es, and just very basic infor­ma­tion that ICE should be trans­par­ent about, like how many deten­tion cen­ters are cur­rent­ly in oper­a­tion around the coun­try,” said a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from a pro-immi­grant orga­ni­za­tion who, along with some oth­er col­leagues, request­ed anonymi­ty in order to speak freely.

ICE adds groups to stake­hold­er meet­ings

This marks what some say is a dras­tic change in the rela­tion­ship between ICE and pro-immi­grant advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions. Dur­ing the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, a coali­tion of pro-immi­grant groups known as the ICE-NGO Work­ing Group start­ed hold­ing con­fi­den­tial, closed-door stake­hold­er meet­ings sev­er­al times a year with high-rank­ing immi­gra­tion offi­cials as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to express con­cerns and ask spe­cif­ic ques­tions about enforce­ment pol­i­cy, the rights of immi­grants and their treat­ment while in deten­tion.

The Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Lawyers Asso­ci­a­tion, the Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion’s Immi­grant Jus­tice Project and the Nation­al Immi­grant Jus­tice Cen­ter are among the advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions that make up the ICE-NGO Work­ing Group.

In Feb­ru­ary, at the first such get-togeth­er under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, mem­bers of the work­ing group felt blind­sided to dis­cov­er that some anti-immi­grant, pro-enforce­ment groups also were in atten­dance.

In addi­tion to CIS and FAIR, invi­ta­tions were extend­ed to the Immi­gra­tion Reform Law Insti­tute, which is the legal arm of FAIR, Num­ber­sUSA and Judi­cial Watch. These groups sup­port stricter enforce­ment of immi­gra­tion laws, reduc­ing over­all immi­gra­tion lev­els and the increased deten­tion and depor­ta­tion of undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants.

“We are frus­trat­ed and angry that what felt like a pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tion and an exchange of ideas and infor­ma­tion about how to ensure the safe and fair treat­ment of immi­grants in their (ICE) cus­tody has mor­phed into a meet­ing with orga­ni­za­tions whose mis­sion is to restrict immi­gra­tion and per­pet­u­ate hate against immi­grants,” said one pro-immi­grant advo­cate who attend­ed the Feb­ru­ary meet­ing.

Pro-enforce­ment, pro-immi­grant groups debate

Lead­ers of the pro-enforce­ment orga­ni­za­tions argue, how­ev­er, that as clear stake­hold­ers in the immi­gra­tion debate they have every right to be at the ICE meet­ings.

“We were inten­tion­al­ly exclud­ed from the meet­ings under the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, but with the new man­age­ment, ICE invit­ed some oth­er groups, too, and it’s long over­due,” said Kriko­ri­an, who acknowl­edged he does not remem­ber being invit­ed to these meet­ings.

Pro-immi­grant advo­cates have told ICE they would pre­fer if the agency met with those groups sep­a­rate­ly, which ICE has declined to do. Some advo­cates said they don’t take issue with peo­ple who have oppo­site views on immi­gra­tion, but believe these groups have con­sis­tent­ly spread ver­i­fi­ably false infor­ma­tion to demo­nize the immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty and its allies.

“There’s obvi­ous fear in the com­mu­ni­ty because of the anti-immi­grant rhetoric com­ing from this admin­is­tra­tion, but hav­ing Jon Feere, who came from CIS, in a lead­er­ship posi­tion at ICE and now these anti-immi­grant groups show­ing up at stake­hold­er meet­ings for the first time in 14 years, it has also cre­at­ed this real­ly deep-seat­ed fear in the advo­ca­cy com­mu­ni­ty,” said an immi­grants’ rights activist who teared up recall­ing how one advo­cate felt she could no longer par­tic­i­pate for fear of expos­ing her­self to ICE.

“Many immi­grants’ rights advo­cates are immi­grants them­selves, some are DACA recip­i­ents, and they are now afraid to even show up at the stake­hold­er meet­ings because they may be tak­en into cus­tody while at ICE head­quar­ters. These are smart, pro­fes­sion­al, well-edu­cat­ed advo­cates that are now scared to do their jobs,” said the activist.

As a result, immi­grants’ rights orga­ni­za­tions have since noti­fied ICE that they have dis­solved the ICE-NGO Work­ing Group and will no longer par­tic­i­pate in the quar­ter­ly gath­er­ings.

ICE will keep meet­ings going

In a state­ment ICE said the meet­ings will con­tin­ue:

“ICE is com­mit­ted to trans­paren­cy with all inter­est­ed stake­hold­ers — not just those of one opin­ion on immi­gra­tion enforce­ment issues and poli­cies. ICE appre­ci­ates con­struc­tive and diverse view­points from a wide spec­trum of orga­ni­za­tions inter­est­ed in immi­gra­tion enforce­ment. The agency con­tin­ues to expand engage­ment with stake­hold­ers and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. Our goal is to make sure all mem­bers of the pub­lic ful­ly under­stand what we do and what we don’t do.”

Peter Rob­bio a spokesman for Num­ber­sUSA, a group that also scored its first invi­ta­tion to the stake­hold­er meet­ing, described this as the best rela­tion­ship the orga­ni­za­tion has had with any admin­is­tra­tion in 21 years.

Said FAIR’s Stein: “Pres­i­dent Trump under­stands the immi­gra­tion issue from the larg­er view of the nation­al inter­est and has tapped a strong bench of peo­ple who bring exper­tise on the issue — some who are in the admin­is­tra­tion, some who are not.”

If pro-immi­grant groups are unhap­py about that, said Tom Fit­ton, pres­i­dent of Judi­cial Watch, they bet­ter get used to the new real­i­ty.

“I’m sure these left-wing groups are used to being able to con­trol the debate and con­trol the room, and I’m sure they would love to be able to con­tin­ue to do that, even dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion,” Fit­ton said.

The pro-enforce­ment groups are enjoy­ing the unprece­dent­ed input to shape immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy and hope to con­tin­ue attend­ing the stake­hold­er meet­ings with ICE.

“We should be encour­ag­ing more of these meet­ings,” Fit­ton said. “I know the lib­er­al left is afraid to con­front the argu­ments of their oppo­nents and want to be able to talk to the gov­ern­ment with­out any­one hold­ing them to account, but we are not opposed to par­tic­i­pat­ing in them with the oth­er groups.”

Not quite, says the oth­er side.

“This isn’t exact­ly the same sit­u­a­tion as hav­ing Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans, con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­er­als, both in the same room,” coun­tered one pro-immi­grant advo­cate. “The fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence is that their agen­da is dri­ven by a nativist white suprema­cist approach to pol­i­cy. So, to sit togeth­er in a room, not only does it have a chill­ing effect, but I think that many of the advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing ours, fear that we would be nor­mal­iz­ing the nativist agen­da as it gets into the halls of our gov­ern­ment.”

6. An arti­cle cit­ed, but not excerpt­ed, in the audio por­tion of the pro­gram notes the role of the scape­goat­ing of immi­gra­tion in the rise of neo­fas­cist par­ties. The dev­as­ta­tion from the mid­dle East wars–Syria in particular–has dri­ven large num­bers of des­per­ate refugees to Europe. This plays beau­ti­ful­ly into the polit­i­cal agen­da of so-called “pop­ulists” who cite them as the rea­son for the imple­men­ta­tion of what is essen­tial­ly a xeno­pho­bic plat­form.

What this arti­cle does NOT men­tion is that one of the Swe­den Democ­rats’ most promi­nent finan­cial backer is Carl Lund­strom, who was also the main finan­cial backer of the Pirate Bay web­site that host­ed Wik­ileaks.

“How the Far Right Con­quered Swe­den” by Jochen Bit­tner; The New York Times; 9/6/2018.

To under­stand why Swe­den, a bas­tion of social democ­ra­cy, might end up with a far-right par­ty in gov­ern­ment after nation­al elec­tions on Sun­day, you need to take a walk with Ahmed Abdi­rah­man.

An Amer­i­can-edu­cat­ed Soma­li immi­grant who works as a pol­i­cy ana­lyst at the Stock­holm Cham­ber of Com­merce, Mr. Abdi­rah­man grew up and now lives in the sub­urb of Rinke­by-Ten­s­ta, where some 90 per­cent of res­i­dents have a for­eign back­ground, rough­ly 80 per­cent live on wel­fare or earn low incomes and 42 per­cent are under age 25. It is a vio­lent place: Six­teen peo­ple were killed there in 2016, most­ly in drug-relat­ed con­flicts, an unheard-of num­ber in this typ­i­cal­ly peace­ful coun­try. As we walk along one of its main streets at 7 p.m., shop­keep­ers pull down the met­al shut­ters in front of their win­dows, while young masked men on scoot­ers start speed­ing through the streets. A police heli­copter hov­ers over­head.

The seg­re­ga­tion and vio­lence of Rinke­by-Ten­s­ta, and the like­li­hood that the far-right, anti-immi­grant Swe­den Democ­rats par­ty will win the most votes in this weekend’s nation­al elec­tions, are both the result of the country’s long-run­ning unwill­ing­ness to deal with the real­i­ties of its immi­gra­tion cri­sis.

For decades, Swe­den, once a racial­ly and cul­tur­al­ly homo­ge­neous coun­try with an expan­sive social wel­fare sys­tem, insist­ed that it could absorb large num­bers of non-Euro­pean migrants with­out con­sid­er­ing how those migrants should be inte­grat­ed into Swedish soci­ety.

As they did in cities across West­ern Europe, migrants tend­ed to clus­ter in low-income neigh­bor­hoods; fac­ing poor job prospects and ram­pant employ­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion, they nat­u­ral­ly turned inward. More young women have start­ed wear­ing the hijab recent­ly, Mr. Abdi­rah­man tells me, and more young men “inter­nal­ize the oth­er­ness” — reject­ed by their new soci­ety, they embrace the stereo­types imposed upon them. This can lead to a point where they reject gay rights or lib­er­al­ism as “white, West­ern ideas,” and even attack fire­fight­ers because they rep­re­sent the state.

As we walk around, Mr. Abdi­rah­man, who is sin­gle and child­less, con­fess­es: “When I came here in 1998, to me this place was par­adise. Today, I wouldn’t want my chil­dren to grow up here.”

Mr. Abdi­rah­man says he was lucky: His moth­er encour­aged him to con­tribute to soci­ety and get a good edu­ca­tion. He earned a degree in inter­na­tion­al stud­ies in New York, then worked in Gene­va and with the Unit­ed States Embassy here before going to work with the cham­ber of com­merce. Not all immi­grants get the same push at home, he says; some par­ents dis­cour­aged their young­sters from going to the city cen­ter to mix. Swe­den, he is afraid, has entered a vicious cir­cle of immi­gra­tion, seg­re­ga­tion and grow­ing mutu­al hos­til­i­ty.

The sit­u­a­tion grew worse with the lat­est mass influx of refugees, in 2015, after which a num­ber of sub­urbs became almost exclu­sive­ly migrant. Con­sid­ered “no go” areas by some Swedes, these neigh­bor­hoods are known to out­siders only from hor­rif­ic head­lines. What peo­ple don’t get to see, Mr. Abdi­rah­man wor­ries, is the bus dri­ver or the clean­ing lady work­ing them­selves ragged to get their chil­dren into a uni­ver­si­ty.

None of this is new, and yet the gov­ern­ment, dom­i­nat­ed by the tra­di­tion­al­ly strong Social Democ­rats and the cen­trist Mod­er­ate Par­ty, did far too lit­tle. That left an open­ing for the Swe­den Democ­rats, until recent­ly a group rel­e­gat­ed to the racist fringe of Swedish pol­i­tics. In the past few years, the par­ty has recast itself; just like the pop­ulist Alter­na­tive für Deutsch­land par­ty in Ger­many and the Five Star Move­ment in Italy, it has repo­si­tioned itself as anti-estab­lish­ment and anti-immi­grant. The Swe­den Democ­rats accus­es all oth­er polit­i­cal actors and the media of “destroy­ing” Swe­den, calls for a sus­pen­sion of the right to asy­lum and pro­motes an exit of Swe­den from the Euro­pean Union.

The par­ty has clocked up to 20 per­cent in the lat­est polls, enough to make a coali­tion gov­ern­ment between the Social Democ­rats and the Mod­er­ate Par­ty unlike­ly — and rais­ing the chances that one of those par­ties will have to enter into a gov­ern­ment with the Swe­den Democ­rats. “If the major par­ties had been able to read the majority’s con­cerns, things would have been dif­fer­ent,” Mr. Abdi­rah­man says.

Sim­i­lar sto­ries have played out across West­ern Europe, from the Nether­lands to Aus­tria. But Swe­den always imag­ined itself as some­thing dif­fer­ent, a soci­ety bound by its unique brand of togeth­er­ness. But that self-sat­is­fac­tion jus­ti­fied a myopic approach to the very com­plex prob­lem of how to inte­grate vast num­bers of for­eign­ers. If you believe in giv­ing every­one a state-of-the-art apart­ment, social wel­fare and child ben­e­fits, then it’s unlike­ly you will tack­le the hur­dles of the high­ly reg­u­lat­ed Swedish labor mar­ket.

The anti-estab­lish­ment Swe­den Democ­rats prof­it from the fact that they were often the first to point to the down­sides of immi­gra­tion. Yet as much as they despise wish­ful think­ing, they replace it with sim­plis­tic think­ing. No mat­ter what prob­lems there might be in Swe­den — hous­ing short­ages, school clos­ings, an over­bur­dened health care sys­tem — in the view of the Swe­den Democ­rats, it is always one group’s fault: migrants.

Andreas Johans­son Heinö, an ana­lyst with the think tank Tim­bro, believes that many Swedes will vote for the Swe­den Democ­rats on Sept. 9 even though they see through the party’s crude think­ing. He sees sim­i­lar­i­ties to the Unit­ed States, where a con­sid­er­able num­ber of peo­ple say they vot­ed for Don­ald Trump not because they liked him but because they liked the idea of change.

Even if the Swe­den Democ­rats win big on Sun­day, the elec­tion might be a force for good. The Mod­er­ate Par­ty, which is like­ly to take sec­ond place, might split over the ques­tion of whether to rule with them. And the Social Democ­rats, already under pres­sure to move to the left, might like­wise fall apart. Sweden’s par­ty land­scape, in oth­er words, might be blown to pieces.

If the coun­try is lucky, some parts from this explo­sion will bind togeth­er as a new force — one that takes seri­ous­ly the need for real­ism on immi­gra­tion and inte­gra­tion, with­out falling for the siren song of right-wing pop­ulism.

7. On CNN for­mer Repub­li­can sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum thought the big sto­ry of the day on which Man­afort was con­vict­ed and Michael Cohen plead guilty was the first degree mur­der charge laid against an “ille­gal” Mex­i­can migrant work­er fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of a deceased white Iowa col­lege girl Mol­lie Tib­betts. Can this become a ral­ly­ing cry for Trump and his anti-immi­grant and racist dead enders?

We note in this con­text that:

  1. The announce­ment of River­a’s arrest for the Tib­betts mur­der hap­pened on the same day that Paul Man­afort’s con­vic­tion was announced and Michael Cohen plead­ed guilty. Might we be look­ing at an “op,” intend­ed to eclipse the neg­a­tive pub­lic­i­ty from the the Manafort/Cohen judi­cial events?
  2. Rivera exhib­it­ed pos­si­ble symp­toms of being sub­ject­ed to mind con­trol, not unlike Sirhan Sirhan. ” . . . . Inves­ti­ga­tors say Rivera fol­lowed Mol­lie in his dark Chevy Mal­ibu as she went for a run around 7.30pm on July 18. He ‘blacked out’ and attacked her after she threat­ened to call the police unless he left her alone, offi­cers said. . . . It is not yet clear how Mol­lie died. . . . Rivera told police that after see­ing her, he pulled over and parked his car to get out and run with her. . . . Mol­lie grabbed her phone and threat­ened to call the police before run­ning off ahead. The sus­pect said that made him ‘pan­ic’ and he chased after her. That’s when he ‘blacked out.’ He claims he remem­bers noth­ing from then until he was back in his car, dri­ving. He then noticed one of her ear­phones sit­ting on his lap and blood in the car then remem­bered he’d stuffed her in the truck. . . . ‘He fol­lowed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that par­tic­u­lar day. For what­ev­er rea­son he chose to abduct her,’ Iowa Depart­ment of Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion spe­cial agent Rick Ryan said on Tues­day after­noon. . . . ‘Rivera stat­ed that she grabbed her phone and said: ‘I’m gonna call the police.’ . . . . ‘Rivera said he then pan­icked and he got mad and that he ‘blocked’ his mem­o­ry which is what he does when he gets very upset and does­n’t remem­ber any­thing after that until he came to at an inter­sec­tion.’ . . .”
  3. Just as Sirhan had been in a right-wing milieu pri­or to the Robert Kennedy assas­si­na­tion, so, too, was Rivera: ” . . . . The promi­nent Repub­li­can fam­i­ly which owns the farm where Mol­lie Tib­betts’ alleged killer worked have insist­ed that he passed back­ground checks for migrant work­ers. Christhi­an Rivera, 24, who is from Mex­i­co, was charged with first degree mur­der on Tues­day after lead­ing police to a corn field where Mol­lie’s body was dumped. Dane Lang, co-own­er of Yarrabee Farms along with Eric Lang, con­firmed that Rivera had worked there for four years and was an employ­ee ‘of good stand­ing.’ Dane’s broth­er is Craig Lang, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion and the Iowa Board of Regents, and a 2018 Repub­li­can can­di­date for state sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture. . . .”
  4. Trump cit­ed the Tib­betts mur­der in a Charleston, West Vir­ginia, ral­ly that day: ” . . . . Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump chirped in dur­ing his Tues­day address at a ral­ly in Charleston, West Vir­ginia, blam­ing immi­gra­tion laws for Mol­lie’s death. ‘You heard about today with the ille­gal alien com­ing in very sad­ly from Mex­i­co,’ he said. ‘And you saw what hap­pened to that incred­i­ble beau­ti­ful young woman. ‘Should’ve nev­er hap­pened, ille­gal­ly in our coun­try. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad. The immi­gra­tion laws are such a dis­grace. ‘We are get­ting them changed but we have to get more Repub­li­cans.’ Gov. Kim Reynolds com­plained about the ‘bro­ken’ immi­gra­tion sys­tem that allowed a ‘preda­tor’ to live in her state. . . .”

“Promi­nent Iowa Repub­li­can Fam­i­ly which Owns Farm where Mol­lie Tib­betts’ Alleged Killer Worked say he PASSED Gov­ern­men­t’s Migrant Back­ground Check as the 24-year-old Is Charged with Her Mur­der after Admit­ting to ‘Chas­ing Her Down while Jog­ging’” by Ben Ash­ford, Chris Pleas­ance, Jen­nifer Smith and Han­nah Par­ry; Dai­ly Mail [UK]; 8/21/2018.

The promi­nent Repub­li­can fam­i­ly which owns the farm where Mol­lie Tib­betts’ alleged killer worked have insist­ed that he passed back­ground checks for migrant work­ers.

Christhi­an Rivera, 24, who is from Mex­i­co, was charged with first degree mur­der on Tues­day after lead­ing police to a corn field where Mol­lie’s body was dumped.

Dane Lang, co-own­er of Yarrabee Farms along with Eric Lang, con­firmed that Rivera had worked there for four years and was an employ­ee ‘of good stand­ing.’

Dane’s broth­er is Craig Lang, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion and the Iowa Board of Regents, and a 2018 Repub­li­can can­di­date for state sec­re­tary of agri­cul­ture.

Dane’s state­ment said: ‘First and fore­most, our thoughts and prayers are with the fam­i­ly and friends of Mol­lie Tib­betts.

‘This is a pro­found­ly sad day for our com­mu­ni­ty. All of us at Yarrabee Farms are shocked to hear that one of our employ­ees was involved and is charged in this case.

‘This indi­vid­ual has worked at our farms for four years, was vet­ted through the gov­ern­men­t’s E‑Verify sys­tem, and was an employ­ee in good stand­ing.

‘On Mon­day, the author­i­ties vis­it­ed our farm and talked to our employ­ees. We have coop­er­at­ed ful­ly with their inves­ti­ga­tion.’

The E‑Verify site allows employ­ers to estab­lish the eli­gi­bil­i­ty of employ­ees, both US or for­eign, by com­par­ing a work­er’s Employ­ment Eli­gi­bil­i­ty Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Form I‑9 with data held by the gov­ern­ment.

The employ­ee is eli­gi­ble to work in the US if the data match­es. If it does­n’t, the work­er has only eight fed­er­al gov­ern­ment work days to resolve the issue.

Despite the Lang fam­i­ly using the sys­tem, police say Rivera had been in the US ille­gal­ly for between four and sev­en years.

Inves­ti­ga­tors say Rivera fol­lowed Mol­lie in his dark Chevy Mal­ibu as she went for a run around 7.30pm on July 18.

He ‘blacked out’ and attacked her after she threat­ened to call the police unless he left her alone, offi­cers said. 

Rivera was iden­ti­fied by sur­veil­lance footage obtained in the last cou­ple of weeks from some­one’s home.

It showed him fol­low­ing the stu­dent in his car and Mol­lie run­ning ahead of him.  It is not yet clear how Mol­lie died. 

Ear­li­er Mon­day a mem­ber of the Lang fam­i­ly which runs Yarrabee Farms told DailyMail.com he was a per­son­al friend of Mol­lie and her broth­ers and was ‘dev­as­tat­ed’ by the news of her death.

It’s under­stood the com­pa­ny hires around 15 migrant work­ers, most of whom are believed to be Mex­i­can.

Rivera is believed to have lived with a num­ber of oth­er migrant work­ers on a seclud­ed farm­house in Brook­lyn owned by their employ­er.

Work­ers asso­ci­at­ed with the farm told DailyMail.com that they bare­ly knew Rivera but con­firmed that he lived there with a girl­friend named Iris Monar­rez and their baby.

They said Iris had gone to stay with her moth­er after Rivera was arrest­ed in Mol­lie’s mur­der.

Neigh­bors told DailyMail.com they had seen a black Chevy Mal­ibu just like the one Rivera was dri­ving when he abduct­ed Mol­lie reg­u­lar­ly dri­ving to and from the prop­er­ty for the past cou­ple of years. 

Mol­lie’s autop­sy is planned for Wednes­day but the results may not be released for weeks.

Rivera told police that after see­ing her, he pulled over and parked his car to get out and run with her. 

Mol­lie grabbed her phone and threat­ened to call the police before run­ning off ahead. The sus­pect said that made him ‘pan­ic’ and he chased after her.

That’s when he ‘blacked out.’  

He claims he remem­bers noth­ing from then until he was back in his car, dri­ving. 

He then noticed one of her ear­phones sit­ting on his lap and blood in the car then remem­bered he’d stuffed her in the truck. 

Rivera drove her then to a corn field where he hauled her body out of the truck and hid her beneath corn stalks.

He was arrest­ed on Fri­day after police honed in on his vehi­cle by view­ing sur­veil­lance footage obtained from a pri­vate res­i­den­t’s home sur­veil­lance cam­eras.

‘He fol­lowed her and seemed to be drawn to her on that par­tic­u­lar day. For what­ev­er rea­son he chose to abduct her,’ Iowa Depart­ment of Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion spe­cial agent Rick Ryan said on Tues­day after­noon. 

But it’s still unclear what the motive behind the killing was, Rahn said.

Rivera told police he had seen her in the area before. She is friends on Face­book with the moth­er of his daugh­ter but it is not clear if he and Mol­lie knew each oth­er.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump chirped in dur­ing his Tues­day address at a ral­ly in Charleston, West Vir­ginia, blam­ing immi­gra­tion laws for Mol­lie’s death.

‘You heard about today with the ille­gal alien com­ing in very sad­ly from Mex­i­co,’ he said. ‘And you saw what hap­pened to that incred­i­ble beau­ti­ful young woman.

‘Should’ve nev­er hap­pened, ille­gal­ly in our coun­try. We’ve had a huge impact but the laws are so bad. The immi­gra­tion laws are such a dis­grace. 

‘We are get­ting them changed but we have to get more Repub­li­cans.’

Gov. Kim Reynolds com­plained about the ‘bro­ken’ immi­gra­tion sys­tem that allowed a ‘preda­tor’ to live in her state.

‘I spoke with Mol­lie’s fam­i­ly and passed on the heart­felt con­do­lences of a griev­ing state,’ Reynolds said. ‘I shared with them my hope that they can find com­fort know­ing that God does not leave us to suf­fer alone. Even in our dark­est moments, He will com­fort and heal our bro­ken hearts.’

At 3pm on Mon­day, law enforce­ment arrived at the farm­house where Rivera worked, accord­ing to a neigh­bor.

FBI agents were still search­ing the house and a num­ber of near­by trail­ers on Tues­day after­noon.

Neigh­bors said the build­ing housed a ‘revolv­ing door’ of hired migrant work­ers but that they had nev­er caused any prob­lems.

FBI agents attend­ed anoth­er near­by prop­er­ty belong­ing to the farm overnight Mon­day to quiz River­a’s co-work­ers, most of whom claim only to under­stand Span­ish.

‘There was a pan­ic when they arrived because they thought at first that it was ICE launch­ing a raid,’ a local source told DailyMail.com.

‘A lot of these peo­ple arrive with forged doc­u­ments. But it turned it was the FBI and it was about Mol­lie.’

Accord­ing to pub­lic records the prop­er­ty being searched is owned by Mary and Craig Lang, whose fam­i­ly own the near­by Yarrabee Farms.

Mol­lie was stay­ing alone overnight in her boyfriend’s home the night she went miss­ing and was last seen going for a jog in the neigh­bor­hood at around 8pm but what hap­pened after­wards has remained a com­plete mys­tery for weeks. 

Her boyfriend opened a Snapchat pho­to­graph from her at 10pm which appeared to sug­gest that she was indoors but it is not known what time Mol­lie sent it.

In his arrest war­rant, police describe River­a’s chill­ing con­fes­sion.

‘Rivera admit­ted to mak­ing con­tact with the female run­ning in Brook­lyn and that he pur­sued her in his vehi­cle in an area east of Brook­lyn. Defen­dant Rivera stat­ed he parked the vehi­cle, got out and was run­ning behind her and along­side of her.

‘Rivera stat­ed that she grabbed her phone and said: ‘I’m gonna call the police.’

‘Rivera said he then pan­icked and he got mad and that he ‘blocked’ his mem­o­ry which is what he does when he gets very upset and does­n’t remem­ber any­thing after that until he came to at an inter­sec­tion.

‘Rivera stat­ed he then made a u‑turn, drove back to an entrance to a field and then drove into a dri­ve­way to a corn­field.

‘He noticed there was an ear piece from head­phones in his lap and that this is how he real­ized he put her in the trunk.

‘He went to get her out of the trunk and he noticed blood on the side of her head.

‘He described the female’s cloth­ing, what she was wear­ing includ­ing an ear phone or head phone set.

‘He described that he dragged Tib­betts on foot from his vehi­cle to a seclud­ed loca­tion in a corn­field.

‘He put her over his shoul­der and took her about 20 meters into the corn­field and he left her cov­ered in some corn leaves and that he left her there, face up.

‘The Defen­dant was able to use his phone to deter­mine the route he trav­eled from Brook­lyn.

‘Rivera then lat­er guid­ed law enforce­ment to her loca­tion from mem­o­ry,’ the affi­davit con­tin­ues.

River­a’s arrest and the dis­cov­ery of the stu­den­t’s body brings an end to five weeks of tire­less inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI, the Iowa Divi­sion of Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion and local sher­iffs.

River­a’s ini­tial court appear­ance is sched­uled for 1pm Wednes­day in Mon­tezu­ma.

If con­vict­ed of first-degree mur­der he faces a manda­to­ry sen­tence of life in prison with­out parole.

Last week, the FBI said it believed she had been abduct­ed by some­one she knew.

They warned that the per­son was ‘hid­ing in plain sight’ and had even attend­ed vig­ils held in her hon­or but no arrests were made.

A $400,000 fund for her safe return was estab­lished but it did not pro­duce any leads either.

Greg Wil­ley of Crime Stop­pers of Cen­tral Iowa said her fam­i­ly and inves­ti­ga­tors would ded­i­cate their resources to catch­ing her killer ‘once they catch their breath’.

The Iowa Depart­ment of Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion refused to share details of the dis­cov­ery on Tues­day when con­tact­ed by DailyMail.com.

The only per­son who had been vis­i­bly scru­ti­nized by police after she went miss­ing was pig farmer Wayne Cheney.

He was grilled by offi­cers more than once and had his prop­er­ty searched twice after search crews found a red t‑shirt that was sim­i­lar to one owned by the stu­dent near his land.

It was nev­er estab­lished if the t‑shirt did in fact belong to Mol­lie.

Mol­lie’s father Rob went back to Cal­i­for­nia, where he lives, last week for what he called a much need­ed ‘break’ from the inves­ti­ga­tion

He said he had been urged by author­i­ties to do so and that it was a ‘half way’ point in the inves­ti­ga­tion.

Rob was not in the state when his daugh­ter dis­ap­peared.

Her boyfriend, Dal­ton Jack, was away for work when she dis­ap­peared as was his old­er broth­er Blake.

The young­sters lived togeth­er in a home in Brook­lyn with Blake’s fiancee who was also cleared.

As the hunt for her inten­si­fied,  author­i­ties set up a web­site that was ded­i­cate to find­ing her.

It pro­vid­ed a map detail­ing five loca­tions police con­sid­ered to be sig­nif­i­cant. The web­site also offered a tips page which gen­er­at­ed hun­dreds of clues about what may have hap­pened to her.

The news of her death shook the small town of Brook­lyn where most res­i­dents are known to each oth­er.

The Rev. Joyce Proc­tor at Grace Unit­ed Methodist Church said she’d been pray­ing for Tib­betts’ ene­mies ‘to do the right thing... and release her.’

Sad­ly that nev­er hap­pened.

Proc­tor, who said she heard Tib­betts ‘was a won­der­ful young lady’, said peo­ple were in shock their lit­tle town isn’t as safe as they first believed it was, the Des Moines Reg­is­ter report­ed.

‘I told the ladies at our prayer group this morn­ing that if it’s not safe in Brook­lyn it’s not safe any­where,’ she said. ‘And I think that’s been a hard thing to real­ize for a lot of peo­ple here.’

7. Under hyp­no­sis, Sirhan was able to recall a con­sid­er­able amount of infor­ma­tion about “the girl in the pol­ka-dot dress”–a fig­ure report­ed by many eye­wit­ness­es to have cel­e­brat­ed the assas­si­na­tion of Robert Kennedy and appeared to have impli­cat­ed her­self and oth­ers in the crime. Note sim­i­lar­i­ties between Chris­ti­han River­a’s descrip­tion of his attrac­tion to Mol­lie Tib­betts and Sirhan’s descrip­tion of his attrac­tion to the girl in the pol­ka-dot dress.

“Con­victed RFK Assas­sin Says Girl Manip­u­lated Him” by Lin­da Deutsch [AP]; yahoo.news; 4/28/2011.

Con­vict­ed assas­sin Sirhan Sirhan was manip­u­lated by a seduc­tive girl in a mind con­trol plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bul­lets did not kill the pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

The doc­u­ments filed this week in fed­eral court and obtained by The Asso­ci­ated Press detail exten­sive inter­views with Sirhan dur­ing the past three years, some done while he was under hyp­no­sis.

The papers point to a mys­te­ri­ous girl in a pol­ka-dot dress as the con­troller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambas­sador Hotel. But the doc­u­ments sug­gest a sec­ond per­son shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diver­sion.

For the first time, Sirhan said under hyp­no­sis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode” believ­ing he was at a fir­ing range and see­ing cir­cles with tar­gets in front of his eyes.

“I thought that I was at the range more than I was actu­ally shoot­ing at any per­son, let alone Bob­by Kennedy,” Sirhan was quot­ed as say­ing dur­ing inter­views with Daniel Brown, a Har­vard Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor and expert in trau­ma mem­ory and hyp­no­sis. He inter­viewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and with­out hyp­no­sis, accord­ing to the legal brief.

San­di Gib­bons, a spokes­woman for the Los Ange­les Coun­ty dis­trict attor­ney, said pros­e­cu­tors were unaware of the legal fil­ing and could not com­ment.

The sto­ry of the girl has been a lin­ger­ing theme in accounts of the events just after mid­night on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claim­ing vic­tory in the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­ra­tic pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry.

Wit­nesses talked of see­ing such a female run­ning from the hotel shout­ing, “We shot Kennedy.” But she was nev­er iden­ti­fied, and amid the chaos of the scene, descrip­tions were con­flict­ing.

Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no mem­ory of shoot­ing Kennedy and said in the recent inter­views that his pres­ence at the hotel was an acci­dent, not a planned des­ti­na­tion.

Under hyp­no­sis, he remem­bered meet­ing the girl that night and becom­ing smit­ten with her. He said she led him to the pantry.

“I am try­ing to fig­ure out how to hit on her.... That’s all that I can think about,” he says in one inter­view cit­ed in the doc­u­ments. “I was fas­ci­nated with her looks .... She nev­er said much. It was very erot­ic. I was con­sumed by her. She was a seduc­tress with an unspo­ken unavail­abil­i­ty.” . . .

. . . Sirhan main­tained in the hyp­notic inter­views that the mys­tery girl touched him or “pinched” him on the shoul­der just before he fired then spun him around to see peo­ple com­ing through the pantry door.

“Then I was on the tar­get range ... a flash­back to the shoot­ing range ... I didn’t know that I had a gun,” Sirhan said.

Under what Brown called the con­di­tion of hyp­notic free recall, he said Sirhan remem­bered see­ing the flash of a sec­ond gun at the time of the assas­si­na­tion. With­out hyp­no­sis, he said, Sirhan could not remem­ber that shot.

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #1028 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates”

  1. Well, it turns out Jamal Khashog­gi was indeed plan­ning some sort of sig­nif­i­cant civ­il protest move­ment with­in Sau­di Ara­bia. That’s based on more than 400 What­sApp mes­sages shared with CNN by Khashog­gi’s part in this effort, Omar Abdu­laz­iz, a Sau­di dis­si­dent liv­ing in Cana­da with a 340,000-strong Twit­ter fol­low­ing.

    Khashog­gi and Abdu­laz­iz com­mu­ni­cat­ed almost dai­ly between Octo­ber 2017 and August 2018 about the plan. They called it the “cyber bees” plan, which emerged from ear­li­er dis­cus­sions about cre­at­ing a por­tal doc­u­ment­ing human rights abus­es in Sau­di Ara­bia. There was also talk of pro­duc­ing short films for mobile dis­tri­b­u­tion. And the plan includ­ed send­ing smart­phone SIM cards to dis­si­dents back in Sau­di Ara­bia so they could tweet with­out being traced. Unnamed wealth donors were going to help finance the oper­a­tion.

    And it got as far as Khashog­gi wiring Abdu­laz­iz $5,000. But in August of this year, Abdu­laz­iz learned from a source back home that his phone had been hacked and the Sau­di gov­ern­ment knew all about it. Abdu­laz­iz’s phone was exam­ined by Cit­i­zen­lab and Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, both of which con­clud­ed that the phone was hacked using the soft­ware pro­vid­ed by NSO Group, an Israeli com­pa­ny spe­cial­iz­ing in pro­vid­ing hack­ing toolk­its to gov­ern­ments.

    Abdu­laz­iz is now suing NSO Group, alleg­ing NSO broke inter­na­tion­al laws by sell­ing its soft­ware to oppres­sive regimes while know­ing it could be used to infringe human rights. It’s unclear what kind of shot the law­suit against NSO Group has, espe­cial­ly giv­en the long track record of com­pa­nies sell­ing hack­ing toolk­its to oppres­sive regimes. Recall how Hack­ing Team, the Ital­ian com­pa­ny that sold hack­ing toolk­its to gov­ern­ments, was basi­cal­ly brought by a Saudi/UAE group of investors. Also recall how Hack­ing Team hap­pened to offer mal­ware that researchers found to be awful­ly sim­i­lar to the X‑Agent soft­ware that was attrib­uted to be an exclu­sive ‘Fan­cy Bear’ tool and was used in the DNC hacks.

    It’s also worth not­ing Michael Fly­n­n’s ties to NSO Group. It turns out Fly­nn on was the advi­so­ry board of Lux­em­bourg-based OSY Tech­nolo­gies and con­sult­ed for the US-based pri­vate equi­ty firm Fran­cis­co Part­ners. and it turns out Fracis­co Part­ners owns NSO Group and OSY is an NSO off­shoot. Fly­nn joined OSY in May of 2016 and was paid more than $40,000 to be an advi­so­ry board mem­ber from May 2016 to Jan­u­ary 2017. And recall how NSO Group’s approach to ensur­ing gov­ern­ments don’t abuse its soft­ware was to large­ly rely on gov­ern­ments to police them­selves.

    So we’ll see how the law­suit against NSO Group pro­ceeds, but the more we learn about what Khashog­gi was up to, the more it looks like he was work­ing on cre­at­ing the seed of a Sau­di ver­sion of the ‘Arab Spring’. But, of course, let’s not for­get that Khashog­gi was large­ly fine with the Sau­di monar­chy. His pri­ma­ry prob­lem was with the new crown prince. Accord­ing to Abdu­laz­iz, “[Jamal] believed that MBS is the issue, is the prob­lem and he said this kid should be stopped.” So it seems less like­ly this effort would have be used to trig­ger pro-democ­ra­cy protests giv­en the enor­mous chal­lenges of pulling that off in a place like Sau­di Ara­bia at this point and more like­ly that it was going to focus on sim­ply get­ting rid of MBS. But giv­en Khashog­gi’s deep Mus­lim Broth­er­hood ties, who knows, we can’t rule out that the plan real­ly was to start off with an anti-MBS dri­ve with the hope of blow­ing it up into a full blown Mus­lim Broth­er­hood-backed ‘Sau­di spring’:

    CNN

    Jamal Khashog­gi’s pri­vate What­sApp mes­sages may offer new clues to killing

    By Nina dos San­tos and Michael Kaplan

    Updat­ed 1:40 PM ET, Mon Decem­ber 3, 2018

    Lon­don (CNN)In his pub­lic writ­ings, Jamal Khashog­gi’s crit­i­cism of Sau­di Ara­bia and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was mea­sured. In pri­vate, the Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist did­n’t hold back.

    In more than 400 What­sApp mes­sages sent to a fel­low Sau­di exile in the year before he was killed at the Sau­di con­sulate in Istan­bul, Khashog­gi describes bin Salman — often referred to as MBS — as a “beast,” a “pac-man” who would devour all in his path, even his sup­port­ers.

    CNN has been grant­ed exclu­sive access to the cor­re­spon­dence between Khashog­gi and Mon­tre­al-based activist Omar Abdu­laz­iz. The mes­sages shared by Abdu­laz­iz, which include voice record­ings, pho­tos and videos, paint a pic­ture of a man deeply trou­bled by what he regard­ed as the petu­lance of his king­dom’s pow­er­ful young prince.

    “The more vic­tims he eats, the more he wants,” says Khashog­gi in one mes­sage sent in May, just after a group of Sau­di activists had been round­ed up. “I will not be sur­prised if the oppres­sion will reach even those who are cheer­ing him on.”

    The exchanges reveal a pro­gres­sion from talk to action — the pair had begun plan­ning an online youth move­ment that would hold the Sau­di state to account. “[Jamal] believed that MBS is the issue, is the prob­lem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdu­laz­iz said in an inter­view with CNN.

    But in August, when he believed their con­ver­sa­tions may have been inter­cept­ed by Sau­di author­i­ties, a sense of fore­bod­ing descends over Khashog­gi. “God help us,” he wrote.

    Two months lat­er, he was dead.

    Abdu­laz­iz on Sun­day launched a law­suit against an Israeli com­pa­ny that invent­ed the soft­ware he believes was used to hack his phone.

    “The hack­ing of my phone played a major role in what hap­pened to Jamal, I am real­ly sor­ry to say,” Abde­laz­iz told CNN. “The guilt is killing me.”

    SIM cards and finan­cial sup­port

    Abdu­laz­iz began speak­ing out against the Sau­di regime as a col­lege stu­dent in Cana­da. His point­ed crit­i­cisms of gov­ern­ment poli­cies drew the atten­tion of the Sau­di state, which can­celed his uni­ver­si­ty schol­ar­ship. Cana­da grant­ed him asy­lum in 2014 and made him a per­ma­nent res­i­dent three years lat­er.

    In almost dai­ly exchanges between Octo­ber 2017 and August 2018, Khashog­gi and Abdu­laz­iz con­ceived plans to form an elec­tron­ic army to engage young Saud­is back home and debunk state pro­pa­gan­da on social media, lever­ag­ing Khashog­gi’s estab­lish­ment pro­file and the 27-year-old Abdu­laz­iz’s 340,000-strong Twit­ter fol­low­ing.

    The dig­i­tal offen­sive, dubbed the “cyber bees,” had emerged from ear­li­er dis­cus­sions about cre­at­ing a por­tal for doc­u­ment­ing human rights abus­es in their home­land as well an ini­tia­tive to pro­duce short films for mobile dis­tri­b­u­tion. “We have no par­lia­ment; we just have Twit­ter,” said Abdu­laz­iz, adding that Twit­ter is also the Sau­di gov­ern­men­t’s strongest weapon. “Twit­ter is the only tool they’re using to fight and to spread their rumors. We’ve been attacked, we’ve been insult­ed, we’d been threat­ened so many times, and we decid­ed to do some­thing.”

    The pair’s scheme involved two key ele­ments that Sau­di Ara­bia might well have viewed as hos­tile acts. The first involved send­ing for­eign SIM cards to dis­si­dents back home so they could tweet with­out being traced. The sec­ond was mon­ey. Accord­ing to Abdu­laz­iz, Khashog­gi pledged an ini­tial $30,000 and promised to drum up sup­port from rich donors under the radar.

    In one exchange, dat­ed May this year, Abdu­laz­iz writes to Khashog­gi. “I sent you some ideas about the elec­tron­ic army. By email.”

    “Bril­liant report,” Khashog­gi replies. “I will try to sort out the mon­ey. We have to do some­thing.”

    A month lat­er, anoth­er mes­sage sent by Abdu­laz­iz con­firms the first $5,000 trans­fer has arrived. Khashog­gi replies with a thumbs up.

    But in ear­ly August, he says he received word from Sau­di Ara­bia that gov­ern­ment offi­cials were aware of the pair’s online project. He passed the news to Khashog­gi.

    “How did they know?” asks Khashog­gi in a mes­sage.

    “There must have been a gap,” says Abdu­laz­iz.

    Three min­utes pass before Khashog­gi writes back: “God help us.”

    The ‘hack’

    Abdu­laz­iz first spoke pub­licly about his con­tact with Khashog­gi last month after researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to’s Cit­i­zen Lab report­ed his phone had been hacked by mil­i­tary-grade spy­ware.

    Accord­ing to Bill Mar­czak, a research fel­low at the Cit­i­zen Lab, the soft­ware was the inven­tion of an Israeli firm named NSO Group, and deployed at the behest of the Sau­di Ara­bi­an gov­ern­ment.

    Mar­czak said at least two oth­er Sau­di dis­si­dents have been tar­get­ed with NSO tools: an activist named Yahya Assiri and a staff mem­ber who had been involved in Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al’s work on Sau­di Ara­bia.

    Dan­na Ingle­ton, an Amnesty deputy pro­gram direc­tor, said its tech­nol­o­gy experts stud­ied the staff mem­ber’s phone and con­firmed it was tar­get­ed with the spy­ware. Amnesty is cur­rent­ly explor­ing poten­tial recourse against NSO Group and last week wrote a let­ter to the Israeli Min­istry of Defense request­ing it revoke NSO’s export license, Ingle­ton said.

    On Sun­day, Abdu­laz­iz’s lawyers filed a law­suit in Tel Aviv, alleg­ing NSO broke inter­na­tion­al laws by sell­ing its soft­ware to oppres­sive regimes, know­ing it could be used to infringe human rights. “NSO should be held account­able in order to pro­tect the lives of polit­i­cal dis­si­dents, jour­nal­ists and human rights activists,” said the Jerusalem-based lawyer Alaa Maha­j­na, who is act­ing for Abdu­laz­iz.

    The law­suit fol­lows anoth­er filed in Israel and Cyprus by cit­i­zens in Mex­i­co and Qatar.

    In a state­ment to CNN Mon­day, after the law­suit was filed, NSO Group said it was “com­plete­ly unfound­ed” and “shows no evi­dence that the com­pa­ny’s tech­nol­o­gy was used” to hack Abdu­laz­iz’s phone. NSO also said its tech­nol­o­gy helps gov­ern­ments and law enforce­ment agen­cies “fight ter­ror­ism and crime in a mod­ern age” and is ful­ly vet­ted and licensed by the Israeli gov­ern­ment.

    The state­ment added: “The law­suit appears to be based on a col­lec­tion of press clip­pings that have been gen­er­at­ed for the sole pur­pose of cre­at­ing news head­lines and do not reflect the real­i­ty of NSO’s work.”

    “In addi­tion, prod­ucts sup­plied by NSO are oper­at­ed by the gov­ern­ment cus­tomer to whom they were sup­plied, with­out the involve­ment of NSO or its employ­ees.”

    ‘Tyran­ny has no log­ic’

    The fact Abdu­laz­iz’s phone con­tained spy­ware means Sau­di offi­cials would have been able to see the same 400 mes­sages Abdu­laz­iz exchanged with Khashog­gi over the peri­od.

    The mes­sages por­tray Khashog­gi, a Sau­di for­mer estab­lish­ment fig­ure, becom­ing increas­ing­ly fear­ful for his coun­try’s fate as bin Salman con­sol­i­dates his pow­er.

    “He loves force, oppres­sion and needs to show them off,” Khashog­gi says of bin Salman, “but tyran­ny has no log­ic.”

    Such dis­cus­sions could be con­sid­ered trea­so­nous in Sau­di Ara­bia, a coun­try with one of the world’s worst records for free speech. In a sign Khashog­gi and Abdu­laz­iz were mind­ful of their secu­ri­ty in exile, they flit­ted back and forth between phone calls, voice mes­sages and chats on What­sApp and oth­er encrypt­ed plat­forms like Telegram and Sig­nal.

    ...

    ‘Mes­sage from MBS’

    Last May, Abdu­laz­iz said two Sau­di gov­ern­ment emis­saries asked to meet with him in Mon­tre­al. He agreed and says he secret­ly record­ed 10 hours of their con­ver­sa­tions over the course of their five-day stay. He shared them with CNN.

    Speak­ing in Ara­bic, the men, referred to only as Abdul­lah and Malek, tell Abdu­laz­iz they have been sent on the orders of bin Salman him­self, bypass­ing the usu­al chan­nels like the Secu­ri­ty Min­istry. Bin Salman watch­es him on his Twit­ter feed, they say, and wants to offer him a job.

    “We have come to you with a mes­sage from Mohammed bin Salman and his assur­ance to you,” one of them says.

    Abde­laz­iz’s record­ed mes­sages are telling because Sau­di Ara­bia has always claimed its crown prince had noth­ing to do with plots like the one lead­ing to Khashog­gi’s death, blam­ing that inci­dent on a failed ren­di­tion attempt, mas­ter­mind­ed by advis­ers and sub­or­di­nates from the secu­ri­ty staff.

    Chill­ing­ly, the men men­tion also Saud al Qathani, bin Salman’s pow­er­ful social media enforcer — fired and under inves­ti­ga­tion in Sau­di Ara­bia amid claims by Turkey that he was the mas­ter­mind of Khashog­gi’s mur­der.

    “If Saud al Qathani him­self hears your name, he will imme­di­ate­ly know and you can meet with Prince Mohammed direct­ly,” says one oth­er man.

    Then they rec­om­mend Abdu­laz­iz vis­its the Sau­di embassy to pick up some paper­work.

    Poignant­ly, Abde­laz­iz says it was pos­si­bly Khashog­gi’s advice that saved his life.

    “He told me not to go and only to meet them in pub­lic places.”

    On Octo­ber 2, Khashog­gi did the oppo­site. It was the last time he checked his What­sApp mes­sages.

    ———-

    “Jamal Khashog­gi’s pri­vate What­sApp mes­sages may offer new clues to killing” by Nina dos San­tos and Michael Kaplan; CNN; 12/03/2018

    “The exchanges reveal a pro­gres­sion from talk to action — the pair had begun plan­ning an online youth move­ment that would hold the Sau­di state to account. “[Jamal] believed that MBS is the issue, is the prob­lem and he said this kid should be stopped,” Abdu­laz­iz said in an inter­view with CNN.”

    “[Jamal] believed that MBS is the issue, is the prob­lem and he said this kid should be stopped.” That sounds like the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of this plan was to just get rid of MBS. Using a big Sau­di youth move­ment over Twit­ter. And the plan includ­ed dis­trib­ut­ing SIM cars to dis­si­dents back home so they could tweet anony­mous­ly:

    ...
    SIM cards and finan­cial sup­port

    Abdu­laz­iz began speak­ing out against the Sau­di regime as a col­lege stu­dent in Cana­da. His point­ed crit­i­cisms of gov­ern­ment poli­cies drew the atten­tion of the Sau­di state, which can­celed his uni­ver­si­ty schol­ar­ship. Cana­da grant­ed him asy­lum in 2014 and made him a per­ma­nent res­i­dent three years lat­er.

    In almost dai­ly exchanges between Octo­ber 2017 and August 2018, Khashog­gi and Abdu­laz­iz con­ceived plans to form an elec­tron­ic army to engage young Saud­is back home and debunk state pro­pa­gan­da on social media, lever­ag­ing Khashog­gi’s estab­lish­ment pro­file and the 27-year-old Abdu­laz­iz’s 340,000-strong Twit­ter fol­low­ing.

    The dig­i­tal offen­sive, dubbed the “cyber bees,” had emerged from ear­li­er dis­cus­sions about cre­at­ing a por­tal for doc­u­ment­ing human rights abus­es in their home­land as well an ini­tia­tive to pro­duce short films for mobile dis­tri­b­u­tion. “We have no par­lia­ment; we just have Twit­ter,” said Abdu­laz­iz, adding that Twit­ter is also the Sau­di gov­ern­men­t’s strongest weapon. “Twit­ter is the only tool they’re using to fight and to spread their rumors. We’ve been attacked, we’ve been insult­ed, we’d been threat­ened so many times, and we decid­ed to do some­thing.”

    The pair’s scheme involved two key ele­ments that Sau­di Ara­bia might well have viewed as hos­tile acts. The first involved send­ing for­eign SIM cards to dis­si­dents back home so they could tweet with­out being traced. The sec­ond was mon­ey. Accord­ing to Abdu­laz­iz, Khashog­gi pledged an ini­tial $30,000 and promised to drum up sup­port from rich donors under the radar.

    In one exchange, dat­ed May this year, Abdu­laz­iz writes to Khashog­gi. “I sent you some ideas about the elec­tron­ic army. By email.”

    “Bril­liant report,” Khashog­gi replies. “I will try to sort out the mon­ey. We have to do some­thing.”

    A month lat­er, anoth­er mes­sage sent by Abdu­laz­iz con­firms the first $5,000 trans­fer has arrived. Khashog­gi replies with a thumbs up.
    ...

    But the plans came to a griz­zly end fol­low­ing the hack of Abdu­laz­iz’s phone by the Sau­di gov­ern­ment. Some­how, Abdu­laz­iz received word from back home that gov­ern­ment offi­cials were aware of the plans. It was con­clud­ed by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to’s Cit­i­zen Lab that NSO Group was behind the hack:

    ...
    But in ear­ly August, he says he received word from Sau­di Ara­bia that gov­ern­ment offi­cials were aware of the pair’s online project. He passed the news to Khashog­gi.

    “How did they know?” asks Khashog­gi in a mes­sage.

    “There must have been a gap,” says Abdu­laz­iz.

    Three min­utes pass before Khashog­gi writes back: “God help us.”

    The ‘hack’

    Abdu­laz­iz first spoke pub­licly about his con­tact with Khashog­gi last month after researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to’s Cit­i­zen Lab report­ed his phone had been hacked by mil­i­tary-grade spy­ware.

    Accord­ing to Bill Mar­czak, a research fel­low at the Cit­i­zen Lab, the soft­ware was the inven­tion of an Israeli firm named NSO Group, and deployed at the behest of the Sau­di Ara­bi­an gov­ern­ment.
    ...

    So now Abdu­laz­iz is suing NSO Group. NGO is call­ing the charges “com­plete­ly unfound­ed”, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly claim­ing that they can’t be respon­si­ble because they just give their soft­ware to gov­ern­ments and aren’t involved with how gov­ern­ments use it: “In addi­tion, prod­ucts sup­plied by NSO are oper­at­ed by the gov­ern­ment cus­tomer to whom they were sup­plied, with­out the involve­ment of NSO or its employ­ees.” It’s the same defense we’ve seen from NSO Group before, that NSO Group just hands their hack­ing tools over to gov­ern­ments and aren’t active­ly help­ing gov­ern­ments use it:

    ...
    On Sun­day, Abdu­laz­iz’s lawyers filed a law­suit in Tel Aviv, alleg­ing NSO broke inter­na­tion­al laws by sell­ing its soft­ware to oppres­sive regimes, know­ing it could be used to infringe human rights. “NSO should be held account­able in order to pro­tect the lives of polit­i­cal dis­si­dents, jour­nal­ists and human rights activists,” said the Jerusalem-based lawyer Alaa Maha­j­na, who is act­ing for Abdu­laz­iz.

    The law­suit fol­lows anoth­er filed in Israel and Cyprus by cit­i­zens in Mex­i­co and Qatar.

    In a state­ment to CNN Mon­day, after the law­suit was filed, NSO Group said it was “com­plete­ly unfound­ed” and “shows no evi­dence that the com­pa­ny’s tech­nol­o­gy was used” to hack Abdu­laz­iz’s phone. NSO also said its tech­nol­o­gy helps gov­ern­ments and law enforce­ment agen­cies “fight ter­ror­ism and crime in a mod­ern age” and is ful­ly vet­ted and licensed by the Israeli gov­ern­ment.

    The state­ment added: “The law­suit appears to be based on a col­lec­tion of press clip­pings that have been gen­er­at­ed for the sole pur­pose of cre­at­ing news head­lines and do not reflect the real­i­ty of NSO’s work.”

    “In addi­tion, prod­ucts sup­plied by NSO are oper­at­ed by the gov­ern­ment cus­tomer to whom they were sup­plied, with­out the involve­ment of NSO or its employ­ees.”
    ...

    So it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see if all of the West­ern media focus on the mur­der of Jamal Khashog­gi starts includ­ing cov­er­age of the inter­na­tion­al mar­ket­place for cut­ting-edge hack­ing tools sold to author­i­tar­i­an regimes around the world. Because Sau­di hack­ing-relat­ed sto­ries are now at least tan­gen­tial­ly relat­ed to the sto­ry of the mur­der of Jamal Khashog­gi. Sto­ries like the Saudi/UAE pur­chase of Hack­ing Team. Or the Saudi/UAE attempt to use Psy Group — com­pa­ny offer­ing hack­ing-relat­ed ser­vices — in the 2016 elec­tions to ben­e­fit the Trump cam­paign. And then there’s the new off­shoot of Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, Emer­da­ta, that appears to be owned by a UAE-backed group. All of these sto­ries point towards a rapid­ly grow­ing hacking/digital dirty tricks capac­i­ty by the Sau­di gov­ern­ment and its close Gulf allies enabled by the glob­al mar­ket­place for elite hack­ing ser­vices. Hope­ful­ly that sto­ry gets a lot more cov­er­age now.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 4, 2018, 12:25 pm
  2. Is Sau­di Ara­bia team­ing up with AMI, the par­ent com­pa­ny of the Nation­al Enquir­er owned by Trump-ally David Peck­er, to black­mail Jeff Bezos? That’s the bizarre, yet plau­si­ble, sce­nario that’s start­ing to emerge.

    First, we have the black­mail claims Jeff Bezos just pub­licly made yes­ter­day when he made a blog post on Medium.com detail­ing what appears to be a pret­ty straight­for­ward black­mail attempt by AMI. Specif­i­cal­ly, AMI was threat­en­ing to pub­lish ‘dick pics’ and var­i­ous oth­er inti­mate pho­tos of Bezos and Lau­ren Sanchez unless Bezos released a state­ment “affirm­ing that they have no knowl­edge or basis for sug­gest­ing that AM’s cov­er­age was polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed or influ­enced by polit­i­cal forces” and stop “refer­ring to such a pos­si­bil­i­ty.” And accord­ing to Bezos, this entire black­mail attempt is a result of Peck­er becom­ing “apoplec­tic” over an inves­ti­ga­tion The Wash­ing­ton Post was doing into Peck­er and AMI’s inter­est in expand­ing to Sau­di Ara­bia:

    USA Today

    Jeff Bezos accus­es Nation­al Enquir­er par­ent of ‘extor­tion and black­mail’ attempt

    Eli Blu­men­thal
    Pub­lished 6:37 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2019 | Updat­ed 6:45 a.m. ET Feb. 8, 2019

    Ama­zon founder Jeff Bezos is fir­ing back at Nation­al Enquir­er own­er Amer­i­can Media Inc. (AMI) over what he is call­ing an “extor­tion and black­mail” attempt by the tabloid.

    In a lengthy post on Medi­um Thurs­day, Bezos, who also owns The Wash­ing­ton Post and is also the world’s rich­est per­son, details alleged cor­re­spon­dence between the lawyer for his lead inves­ti­ga­tor, Mar­tin Singer, and Dylan Howard, the chief con­tent offi­cer for AMI.

    In emails post­ed by Bezos, Howard says the Enquir­er would post a series of images it has of Bezos and for­mer Los Ange­les news anchor Lau­ren Sanchez, the Ama­zon founder’s love inter­est.

    In a sep­a­rate email, AMI attor­ney Jon Fine said that the com­pa­ny would not pub­lish the unre­leased emails and text if Bezos released a state­ment “affirm­ing that they have no knowl­edge or basis for sug­gest­ing that AM’s cov­er­age was polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed or influ­enced by polit­i­cal forces.” The emails also demand­ed Bezos and his inves­ti­ga­tor agree that they would stop “refer­ring to such a pos­si­bil­i­ty.”

    The images, accord­ing to Howard’s email post­ed by Bezos, include a vari­ety of pri­vate pic­tures of both Bezos and Sanchez such as a “below the belt self­ie” of Bezos and a pic­ture of Sanchez “smok­ing a cig­ar in what appears to be a sim­u­lat­ed oral sex

    Bezos shared the Medi­um post from his offi­cial Twit­ter account. Ama­zon has sep­a­rate­ly con­firmed the authen­tic­i­ty of the post, but declined to com­ment fur­ther. AMI and Howard did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to USA TODAY requests for com­ment.

    I’ve writ­ten a post about devel­op­ments with the Nation­al Enquir­er and its par­ent com­pa­ny, AMI. You can find it here: https://t.co/G1ykJAPPwy— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) Feb­ru­ary 7, 2019

    The Nation­al Enquir­er pre­vi­ous­ly shared details of Bezos and Sanchez’s rela­tion­ship, includ­ing roman­tic text mes­sages the two had sent one anoth­er. The Enquir­er post­ed the text after Bezos’ announced last month that he and his wife, MacKen­zie, would be get­ting a divorce after 25 years of mar­riage.

    The leak of the texts, which Bezos con­firmed in his post, prompt­ed the Ama­zon founder to have Gavin de Beck­er from his secu­ri­ty team inves­ti­gate how the Enquir­er got its hands on the mes­sages.

    Bezos claims that AMI CEO David Peck­er was “apoplec­tic” over an inves­ti­ga­tion The Wash­ing­ton Post was doing into Peck­er and AMI’s inter­est in expand­ing to Sau­di Ara­bia, includ­ing AMI’s pub­li­ca­tion of a pro-Sau­di Ara­bia tabloid last year ahead of the arrival of Sau­di Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

    “A few days after hear­ing about Mr. Pecker’s apoplexy, we were approached, ver­bal­ly at first, with an offer,” Bezos writes. “They said they had more of my text mes­sages and pho­tos that they would pub­lish if we didn’t stop our inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    Bezos also notes in his blog how Peck­er “recent­ly entered into an immu­ni­ty deal with the Depart­ment of Jus­tice relat­ed to their role in the so-called “Catch and Kill” process on behalf of Pres­i­dent Trump and his elec­tion cam­paign,” link­ing to a New York Times report that said Trump invit­ed Peck­er to a White House din­ner in which the AMI CEO brought a guest that the Times describes as hav­ing “impor­tant ties to the roy­als in Sau­di Ara­bia.”

    In his note to Bezos attor­ney Singer, Fine request­ed that the Bezos state­ment would be made through a “mutu­al­ly-agree­able news out­let.”

    ...

    ———–

    “Jeff Bezos accus­es Nation­al Enquir­er par­ent of ‘extor­tion and black­mail’ attempt” by Eli Blu­men­thal; USA TODAY; 02/07/2019

    “Bezos claims that AMI CEO David Peck­er was “apoplec­tic” over an inves­ti­ga­tion The Wash­ing­ton Post was doing into Peck­er and AMI’s inter­est in expand­ing to Sau­di Ara­bia, includ­ing AMI’s pub­li­ca­tion of a pro-Sau­di Ara­bia tabloid last year ahead of the arrival of Sau­di Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

    So Bezos sud­den­ly reveals a bla­tant black­mail attempt by AMI that he is assum­ing is relat­ed to the The Wash­ing­ton Post’s inves­ti­ga­tion into AMI’s grow­ing ties to the Sau­di gov­ern­ment. But there’s still a big ques­tion over how AMI got the images and emails for the black­mail in the first place. And accord­ing to Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia, Bezos’s inves­ti­ga­tors believe that a “gov­ern­ment enti­ty” may be behind the theft of that infor­ma­tion:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    News

    WaPo Reporter: Bezos Inves­ti­ga­tors Think ‘Gov­ern­ment Enti­ty’ Leaked Sexts

    By Kate Riga
    Feb­ru­ary 8, 2019 8:19 am

    Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia said Thurs­day that Jeff Bezos’ inves­ti­ga­tors believe that a “gov­ern­ment enti­ty” may be behind the leak of Bezos’ sexts to the Nation­al Enquir­er.

    “…They have begun to believe, the Bezos camp, that this pub­li­ca­tion by the Nation­al Enquir­er might have been polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed,” Roig-Franzia told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. “[Bezos secu­ri­ty chief] Gavin de Beck­er told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked. He thinks it’s pos­si­ble that a gov­ern­ment enti­ty might have got­ten ahold of his text mes­sages.”

    Bezos wrote a blog post Thurs­day alleg­ing that the Nation­al Enquir­er tried to use explic­it pic­tures he sent to his mis­tress to black­mail him.

    Watch here:

    WaPo reporter: Bezos inves­ti­ga­tors think “gov­ern­ment enti­ty” may have giv­en sexts to Nation­al Enquir­er pic.twitter.com/EQVG7Nccus— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) Feb­ru­ary 8, 2019

    ...

    ———-

    “WaPo Reporter: Bezos Inves­ti­ga­tors Think ‘Gov­ern­ment Enti­ty’ Leaked Sexts” by Kate Riga; Talk­ing Points Memo; 02/08/2019

    ““…They have begun to believe, the Bezos camp, that this pub­li­ca­tion by the Nation­al Enquir­er might have been polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed,” Roig-Franzia told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell. “[Bezos secu­ri­ty chief] Gavin de Beck­er told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos’ phone was hacked. He thinks it’s pos­si­ble that a gov­ern­ment enti­ty might have got­ten ahold of his text mes­sages.”

    So Bezos’s inves­ti­ga­tors don’t believe his phone was actu­al­ly hacked and think it’s pos­si­ble that “a gov­ern­ment enti­ty might have got­ten ahold of his text mes­sages.” Keep in mind that Sanchez’s phone could still have been hacked to obtain these texts and images. But if not, that sug­gests the infor­ma­tion from obtained ‘in tran­sit’, i.e. grabbed while the mes­sages were being sent over the inter­net.

    One gov­ern­ment agency that would obvi­ous have had such pow­ers is the NSA, rais­ing the ques­tion of whether or not Trump used his pres­i­den­tial pow­ers to get involved. But giv­en the sus­pi­cions that Peck­er was specif­i­cal­ly enraged over the Wash­ing­ton Post’s inves­ti­ga­tions into AMI’s attempts to expand into Sau­di Ara­bia and devel­op Sau­di ties, and giv­en the obvi­ous ten­sions that would exist between Bezos’s Wash­ing­ton Post over the mur­der of Jamal Khashog­gi, the oth­er obvi­ous gov­ern­ment agency sus­pect would be a Sau­di intel­li­gence agency.

    Along those lines, it’s worth not­ing the oth­er recent sto­ry of appar­ent intim­i­da­tion by a group involved with Sau­di hack­ing oper­a­tions: the alleged tar­get­ing of Cit­i­zen Lab, the Cana­da-based cyber-focused research group focused on expos­ing gov­ern­ment hack­ing oper­a­tions around the world. Accord­ing to reports from just a cou­ple of weeks ago, agents believed to be asso­ci­at­ed with the Israeli hack­ing com­pa­ny NSO Group alleged­ly approached Cit­i­zen Lab researchers under false pre­tens­es for the pur­pose of goad­ing them into mak­ing anti-Semit­ic com­ments for the pur­pose of dis­cred­it­ing the group. And as we’ll recall, it appears to be NSO Group’s hack­ing tools that were used by the Sau­di gov­ern­ment to hack Jamal Khashog­gi’s phone.

    Also recall Michael Fly­n­n’s ties to NSO Group. Fly­nn on was the advi­so­ry board of Lux­em­bourg-based OSY Tech­nolo­gies and con­sult­ed for the US-based pri­vate equi­ty firm Fran­cis­co Part­ners. and it turns out Fran­cis­co Part­ners owns NSO Group and OSY is an NSO off­shoot. Fly­nn joined OSY in May of 2016 and was paid more than $40,000 to be an advi­so­ry board mem­ber from May 2016 to Jan­u­ary 2017. And recall how NSO Group’s approach to ensur­ing gov­ern­ments don’t abuse its soft­ware was to large­ly rely on gov­ern­ments to police them­selves.

    So the com­pa­ny that appears to have sold the Sau­di gov­ern­ment pow­er­ful hack­ing tools was also recent­ly send­ing under­cov­er oper­a­tives to dis­cred­it an orga­ni­za­tion that was expos­ing their activ­i­ties. Might this tie into the sto­ry of the black­mail­ing of Jeff Bezos? Who knows, but the inter­twined rela­tion­ships and over­lap­ping motives are hard to ignore:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    APNews­Break: Under­cov­er agents tar­get cyber­se­cu­ri­ty watch­dog

    By RAPHAEL SATTER
    Jan­u­ary 26, 2019

    NEW YORK (AP) — The researchers who report­ed that Israeli soft­ware was used to spy on Wash­ing­ton Post jour­nal­ist Jamal Khashoggi’s inner cir­cle before his grue­some death are being tar­get­ed in turn by inter­na­tion­al under­cov­er oper­a­tives, The Asso­ci­at­ed Press has found.

    Twice in the past two months, men mas­querad­ing as social­ly con­scious investors have lured mem­bers of the Cit­i­zen Lab inter­net watch­dog group to meet­ings at lux­u­ry hotels to quiz them for hours about their work expos­ing Israeli sur­veil­lance and the details of their per­son­al lives. In both cas­es, the researchers believe they were secret­ly record­ed.

    ...

    Who these oper­a­tives are work­ing for remains a rid­dle, but their tac­tics recall those of pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors who assume elab­o­rate false iden­ti­ties to gath­er intel­li­gence or com­pro­mis­ing mate­r­i­al on crit­ics of pow­er­ful fig­ures in gov­ern­ment or busi­ness.

    Cit­i­zen Lab, based out of the Munk School at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, has for years played a lead­ing role in expos­ing state-backed hack­ers oper­at­ing in places as far afield as Tibet , Ethiopia and Syr­ia . Late­ly the group has drawn atten­tion for its repeat­ed exposés of an Israeli sur­veil­lance soft­ware ven­dor called the NSO Group, a firm whose wares have been used by gov­ern­ments to tar­get jour­nal­ists in Mex­i­co , oppo­si­tion fig­ures in Pana­ma and human rights activists in the Mid­dle East .

    In Octo­ber, Cit­i­zen Lab report­ed that an iPhone belong­ing to one of Khashoggi’s con­fi­dantes had been infect­ed by the NSO’s sig­na­ture spy soft­ware only months before Khashoggi’s gris­ly mur­der. The friend, Sau­di dis­si­dent Omar Abdu­laz­iz, would lat­er claim that the hack­ing had exposed Khashoggi’s pri­vate crit­i­cisms of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly to the Arab kingdom’s spies and thus “played a major role” in his death.

    In a state­ment, NSO denied hav­ing any­thing to do with the under­cov­er oper­a­tions tar­get­ing Cit­i­zen Lab, “either direct­ly or indi­rect­ly” and said it had nei­ther hired nor asked any­one to hire pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to pur­sue the Cana­di­an orga­ni­za­tion. “Any sug­ges­tion to the con­trary is fac­tu­al­ly incor­rect and noth­ing more than base­less spec­u­la­tion,” NSO said.

    NSO has long denied that its soft­ware was used to tar­get Khashog­gi, although it has refused to com­ment when asked whether it has sold its soft­ware to the Sau­di gov­ern­ment more gen­er­al­ly.

    ___

    The first mes­sage reached Bahr Abdul Raz­zak, a Syr­i­an refugee who works as a Cit­i­zen Lab researcher, Dec. 6, when a man call­ing him­self Gary Bow­man got in touch via LinkedIn. The man described him­self as a South African finan­cial tech­nol­o­gy exec­u­tive based in Madrid.

    “I came across your pro­file and think that the work you’ve done help­ing Syr­i­an refugees and your exten­sive tech­ni­cal back­ground could be a great fit for our new ini­tia­tive,” Bow­man wrote.

    Abdul Raz­zak said he thought the pro­pos­al was a bit odd, but he even­tu­al­ly agreed to meet the man at Toronto’s swanky Shangri-La Hotel on the morn­ing of Dec. 18.

    The con­ver­sa­tion got weird very quick­ly, Abdul Raz­zak said.

    Instead of talk­ing about refugees, Abdul Raz­zak said, Bow­man grilled him about his work for Cit­i­zen Lab and its inves­ti­ga­tions into the use of NSO’s soft­ware. Abdul Raz­zak said Bow­man appeared to be read­ing off cue cards, ask­ing him if he was earn­ing enough mon­ey and throw­ing out point­ed ques­tions about Israel, the war in Syr­ia and Abdul Razzak’s reli­gios­i­ty.

    “Do you pray?” Abdul Raz­zak recalled Bow­man ask­ing. “Why do you write only about NSO?” “Do you write about it because it’s an Israeli com­pa­ny?” “Do you hate Israel?”

    Abdul Raz­zak said he emerged from the meet­ing feel­ing shak­en. He alert­ed his Cit­i­zen Lab col­leagues, who quick­ly deter­mined that the break­fast get-togeth­er had been a ruse. Bowman’s sup­posed Madrid-based com­pa­ny, Flame­Tech, had no web pres­ence beyond a LinkedIn page, a hand­ful of social media pro­files and an entry in the busi­ness infor­ma­tion plat­form Crunch­base. A reverse image search revealed that the pro­file pic­ture of the man list­ed as FlameTech’s chief exec­u­tive, Mauri­cio Alon­so, was a stock pho­to­graph.

    “My imme­di­ate gut feel­ing was: ‘This is a fake,’” said John Scott-Rail­ton, one of Abdul Razzak’s col­leagues.

    Scott-Rail­ton flagged the inci­dent to the AP, which con­firmed that Flame­Tech was a dig­i­tal facade.

    Search­es of the Orbis data­base of cor­po­rate records, which has data on some 300 mil­lion glob­al com­pa­nies, turned up no evi­dence of a Span­ish firm called Flame­Tech or Flame Tech or any com­pa­ny any­where in the world match­ing its descrip­tion. Sim­i­lar­ly, the AP found no record of Flame­Tech in Madrid’s offi­cial reg­istry or of a Gary Bow­man in the city’s tele­phone list­ings. An Orbis search for Alon­so, the sup­posed chief exec­u­tive, also drew a blank. When an AP reporter vis­it­ed Madrid’s Crys­tal Tow­er high-rise, where Flame­Tech claimed to have 250 sq. meters (2,700 sq. feet) of office space, he could find no trace of the firm and calls to the num­ber list­ed on its web­site went unan­swered.

    The AP was about to pub­lish a sto­ry about the curi­ous com­pa­ny when, on Jan. 9, Scott-Rail­ton received an intrigu­ing mes­sage of his own.

    ___

    This time the con­tact came not from Bow­man of Flame­Tech but from some­one who iden­ti­fied him­self as Michel Lam­bert, a direc­tor at the Paris-based agri­cul­tur­al tech­nol­o­gy firm CPW-Con­sult­ing.

    Lam­bert had done his home­work. In his intro­duc­to­ry email , he referred to Scott-Railton’s ear­ly doc­tor­al research on kite aer­i­al pho­tog­ra­phy — a map­ping tech­nique using kite-mount­ed cam­eras — and said he was “quite impressed.”

    “We have a few projects and clients com­ing up that could sig­nif­i­cant­ly ben­e­fit from imple­ment­ing Kite Aer­i­al Pho­tog­ra­phy,” he said.

    Like Flame­Tech, CPW-Con­sult­ing was a fic­tion. Search­es of Orbis and the French com­mer­cial court reg­istry Info­gr­effe turned up no trace of the sup­pos­ed­ly Paris-based com­pa­ny or indeed of any Paris-based com­pa­ny bear­ing the acronym CPW. And when the AP vis­it­ed CPW’s alleged office there was no evi­dence of the com­pa­ny; the address was home to a main­ly res­i­den­tial apart­ment build­ing. Res­i­dents and the building’s care­tak­er said they had nev­er heard of the firm.

    Who­ev­er dreamed up CPW had tak­en steps to ensure the illu­sion sur­vived a casu­al web search, but even those efforts didn’t bear much scruti­ny. The com­pa­ny had issued a help want­ed ad, for exam­ple, seek­ing a dig­i­tal map­ping spe­cial­ist for their Paris office, but Scott-Rail­ton dis­cov­ered that the lan­guage had been lift­ed almost word-for-word from an ad from an unre­lat­ed com­pa­ny seek­ing a map­ping spe­cial­ist in Lon­don. A blog post tout­ed CPW as a major play­er in Africa, but an exam­i­na­tion of the author’s pro­file sug­gests the arti­cle was the only one the blog­ger had ever writ­ten.

    When Lam­bert sug­gest­ed an in-per­son meet­ing in New York dur­ing a Jan. 19 phone call , Scott-Rail­ton felt cer­tain that Lam­bert was try­ing to set him up.

    But Scott-Rail­ton agreed to the meet­ing. He planned to lay a trap of his own.

    ___

    Any­one watch­ing Scott-Rail­ton and Lam­bert laugh­ing over wagyu beef and lob­ster bisque at the Penin­su­la Hotel’s upscale restau­rant on Thurs­day after­noon might have mis­tak­en the pair for friends.

    In fact, the lunch was Spy vs. Spy. Scott-Rail­ton had spent the night before try­ing to hide a home­made cam­era into his tie, he lat­er told AP, even­tu­al­ly set­tling for a GoPro action cam­era and sev­er­al record­ing devices hid­den about his per­son. On the table, Lam­bert had placed a large pen in which Scott-Rail­ton said he spot­ted a tiny cam­era lens peek­ing out from an open­ing in the top.

    Lam­bert didn’t seem to be alone. At the begin­ning of the meal, a man sat behind him, hold­ing up his phone as if to take pic­tures and then abrupt­ly left the restau­rant, hav­ing eat­en noth­ing. Lat­er, two or three men mate­ri­al­ized at the bar and appeared to be mon­i­tor­ing pro­ceed­ings.

    Scott-Rail­ton wasn’t alone either. A few tables away, two Asso­ci­at­ed Press jour­nal­ists were mak­ing small talk as they wait­ed for a sig­nal from Scott-Rail­ton, who had invit­ed the reporters to observe the lunch from near­by and then inter­view Lam­bert near the end of the meal.

    The con­ver­sa­tion began with a dis­cus­sion of kites, gos­sip about African politi­cians, and a detour through Scott-Railton’s fam­i­ly back­ground. But Lam­bert, just like Bow­man, even­tu­al­ly steered the talk to Cit­i­zen Lab and NSO.

    “Work dra­ma? Tell me, I like dra­ma!” Lam­bert said at one point, accord­ing to Scott-Railton’s record­ing of the con­ver­sa­tion. “Is there a big com­pe­ti­tion between the peo­ple inside Cit­i­zen Lab?” he asked lat­er.

    Like Bow­man, Lam­bert appeared to be work­ing off cue cards and occa­sion­al­ly made awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion­al gam­bits. At one point he repeat­ed a racist French expres­sion, insist­ing it wasn’t offen­sive. He also asked Scott-Rail­ton ques­tions about the Holo­caust, anti-Semi­tism and whether he grew up with any Jew­ish friends. At anoth­er point he asked whether there might not be a “racist ele­ment” to Cit­i­zen Lab’s inter­est in Israeli spy­ware.

    After dessert arrived, the AP reporters approached Lam­bert at his table and asked him why his com­pa­ny didn’t seem to exist.

    He seemed to stiff­en.

    “I know what I’m doing,” Lam­bert said, as he put his files — and his pen — into a bag. Then he stood up, bumped into a chair and walked off, say­ing “Ciao” and wav­ing his hand, before return­ing because he had neglect­ed to pay the bill.

    As he paced around the restau­rant wait­ing for the check, Lam­bert refused to answer ques­tions about who he worked for or why no trace of his firm could be found.

    “I don’t have to give you any expla­na­tion,” he said. He even­tu­al­ly retreat­ed to a back room and closed the door.

    ___

    Who Lam­bert and Bow­man real­ly are isn’t clear. Nei­ther man returned emails or phone calls. The web­sites for both of their sup­posed com­pa­nies went offline with­in hours of the pub­li­ca­tion of this arti­cle, and chunks of infor­ma­tion, includ­ing the men’s last names, were removed from their respec­tive LinkedIn pro­files.

    Despite their keen focus on NSO, the AP has found no evi­dence that the men were linked to the Israeli spy­ware mer­chant, which is adamant that it wasn’t involved.

    The kind of aggres­sive inves­tiga­tive tac­tics used by the mys­tery men who tar­get­ed Cit­i­zen Lab have come under fire in the wake of the Har­vey Wein­stein sex­u­al abuse scan­dal. Black Cube, an Israeli pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tion firm, apol­o­gized after The New York­er and oth­er media out­lets revealed that the company’s oper­a­tives had used sub­terfuge and dirty tricks to help the Hol­ly­wood mogul sup­press alle­ga­tions of rape and sex­u­al assault.

    Scott-Rail­ton and Abdul Raz­zak said they didn’t want to spec­u­late about who was involved. But both said they believed they were being steered toward mak­ing con­tro­ver­sial com­ments that could be used to black­en Cit­i­zen Lab’s rep­u­ta­tion.

    “It could be they want­ed me to say, ‘Yes, I hate Israel,’ or ‘Yes, Cit­i­zen Lab is against NSO because it’s Israeli,’” said Abdul Raz­zak.

    Scott-Rail­ton said the elab­o­rate, multi­na­tion­al oper­a­tion was grat­i­fy­ing, in a way.

    “Peo­ple were paid to fly to a city to sit you down to an expen­sive meal and try to con­vince you to say bad things about your work, your col­leagues and your employ­er,” he said.

    “That means that your work is impor­tant.”

    ————

    “APNews­Break: Under­cov­er agents tar­get cyber­se­cu­ri­ty watch­dog” by RAPHAEL SATTER; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 01/26/2019

    “Twice in the past two months, men mas­querad­ing as social­ly con­scious investors have lured mem­bers of the Cit­i­zen Lab inter­net watch­dog group to meet­ings at lux­u­ry hotels to quiz them for hours about their work expos­ing Israeli sur­veil­lance and the details of their per­son­al lives. In both cas­es, the researchers believe they were secret­ly record­ed.”

    Some­one clear­ly wants to dis­cred­it Cit­i­zen Lab. And based on the odd line of ques­tion­ing that the Cit­i­zen Lab researchers towards NSO Group and the fact that Cit­i­zen Lab revealed that one of the iPhones of Jamal Khas­ghog­gi’s con­fi­dantes had been infect­ed by NSO Group’s spy­ware months before Khashog­gi’s mur­der, it seems pret­ty like­ly that either the Sau­di gov­ern­ment or the NSO Group is behind this dis­cred­i­ta­tion oper­a­tion:

    ...
    Who these oper­a­tives are work­ing for remains a rid­dle, but their tac­tics recall those of pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors who assume elab­o­rate false iden­ti­ties to gath­er intel­li­gence or com­pro­mis­ing mate­r­i­al on crit­ics of pow­er­ful fig­ures in gov­ern­ment or busi­ness.

    Cit­i­zen Lab, based out of the Munk School at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, has for years played a lead­ing role in expos­ing state-backed hack­ers oper­at­ing in places as far afield as Tibet , Ethiopia and Syr­ia . Late­ly the group has drawn atten­tion for its repeat­ed exposés of an Israeli sur­veil­lance soft­ware ven­dor called the NSO Group, a firm whose wares have been used by gov­ern­ments to tar­get jour­nal­ists in Mex­i­co , oppo­si­tion fig­ures in Pana­ma and human rights activists in the Mid­dle East .

    In Octo­ber, Cit­i­zen Lab report­ed that an iPhone belong­ing to one of Khashoggi’s con­fi­dantes had been infect­ed by the NSO’s sig­na­ture spy soft­ware only months before Khashoggi’s gris­ly mur­der. The friend, Sau­di dis­si­dent Omar Abdu­laz­iz, would lat­er claim that the hack­ing had exposed Khashoggi’s pri­vate crit­i­cisms of the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly to the Arab kingdom’s spies and thus “played a major role” in his death.

    In a state­ment, NSO denied hav­ing any­thing to do with the under­cov­er oper­a­tions tar­get­ing Cit­i­zen Lab, “either direct­ly or indi­rect­ly” and said it had nei­ther hired nor asked any­one to hire pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to pur­sue the Cana­di­an orga­ni­za­tion. “Any sug­ges­tion to the con­trary is fac­tu­al­ly incor­rect and noth­ing more than base­less spec­u­la­tion,” NSO said.

    NSO has long denied that its soft­ware was used to tar­get Khashog­gi, although it has refused to com­ment when asked whether it has sold its soft­ware to the Sau­di gov­ern­ment more gen­er­al­ly.
    ...

    The first Cit­i­zen Lab researcher Bahr Abdul Raz­zak, who was invit­ed to meet­ing a man who reached out to him over LinkedIn. But it turns out this man and his com­pa­ny don’t appear to exist and when Abdul Raz­zak met this met and kept ask­ing strange ques­tions about his work on the NSO Group’s soft­ware and lead­ing ques­tions about whether or not Abdul Raz­zak was report­ing on NSO Group due to hatred of Israel:

    ...
    The first mes­sage reached Bahr Abdul Raz­zak, a Syr­i­an refugee who works as a Cit­i­zen Lab researcher, Dec. 6, when a man call­ing him­self Gary Bow­man got in touch via LinkedIn. The man described him­self as a South African finan­cial tech­nol­o­gy exec­u­tive based in Madrid.

    “I came across your pro­file and think that the work you’ve done help­ing Syr­i­an refugees and your exten­sive tech­ni­cal back­ground could be a great fit for our new ini­tia­tive,” Bow­man wrote.

    Abdul Raz­zak said he thought the pro­pos­al was a bit odd, but he even­tu­al­ly agreed to meet the man at Toronto’s swanky Shangri-La Hotel on the morn­ing of Dec. 18.

    he con­ver­sa­tion got weird very quick­ly, Abdul Raz­zak said.

    Instead of talk­ing about refugees, Abdul Raz­zak said, Bow­man grilled him about his work for Cit­i­zen Lab and its inves­ti­ga­tions into the use of NSO’s soft­ware. Abdul Raz­zak said Bow­man appeared to be read­ing off cue cards, ask­ing him if he was earn­ing enough mon­ey and throw­ing out point­ed ques­tions about Israel, the war in Syr­ia and Abdul Razzak’s reli­gios­i­ty.

    “Do you pray?” Abdul Raz­zak recalled Bow­man ask­ing. “Why do you write only about NSO?” “Do you write about it because it’s an Israeli com­pa­ny?” “Do you hate Israel?”

    Abdul Raz­zak said he emerged from the meet­ing feel­ing shak­en. He alert­ed his Cit­i­zen Lab col­leagues, who quick­ly deter­mined that the break­fast get-togeth­er had been a ruse. Bowman’s sup­posed Madrid-based com­pa­ny, Flame­Tech, had no web pres­ence beyond a LinkedIn page, a hand­ful of social media pro­files and an entry in the busi­ness infor­ma­tion plat­form Crunch­base. A reverse image search revealed that the pro­file pic­ture of the man list­ed as FlameTech’s chief exec­u­tive, Mauri­cio Alon­so, was a stock pho­to­graph.
    ...

    Then John Scott-Rail­ton, anoth­er Cit­i­zen Lab researcher, got a mys­te­ri­ous invite of his own. So Scott-Rail­ton and AP reporters set a trap. They met with this sec­ond indi­vid­ual, who again direct­ed the con­ver­sa­tion in the direc­tion of anti-Semi­tism and the Holo­caust, until AP reporters con­front­ed the man about why his com­pa­ny does­n’t appear to exist:

    ...
    “My imme­di­ate gut feel­ing was: ‘This is a fake,’” said John Scott-Rail­ton, one of Abdul Razzak’s col­leagues.

    Scott-Rail­ton flagged the inci­dent to the AP, which con­firmed that Flame­Tech was a dig­i­tal facade.

    Search­es of the Orbis data­base of cor­po­rate records, which has data on some 300 mil­lion glob­al com­pa­nies, turned up no evi­dence of a Span­ish firm called Flame­Tech or Flame Tech or any com­pa­ny any­where in the world match­ing its descrip­tion. Sim­i­lar­ly, the AP found no record of Flame­Tech in Madrid’s offi­cial reg­istry or of a Gary Bow­man in the city’s tele­phone list­ings. An Orbis search for Alon­so, the sup­posed chief exec­u­tive, also drew a blank. When an AP reporter vis­it­ed Madrid’s Crys­tal Tow­er high-rise, where Flame­Tech claimed to have 250 sq. meters (2,700 sq. feet) of office space, he could find no trace of the firm and calls to the num­ber list­ed on its web­site went unan­swered.

    The AP was about to pub­lish a sto­ry about the curi­ous com­pa­ny when, on Jan. 9, Scott-Rail­ton received an intrigu­ing mes­sage of his own.

    ___

    This time the con­tact came not from Bow­man of Flame­Tech but from some­one who iden­ti­fied him­self as Michel Lam­bert, a direc­tor at the Paris-based agri­cul­tur­al tech­nol­o­gy firm CPW-Con­sult­ing.

    ...
    ___

    Any­one watch­ing Scott-Rail­ton and Lam­bert laugh­ing over wagyu beef and lob­ster bisque at the Penin­su­la Hotel’s upscale restau­rant on Thurs­day after­noon might have mis­tak­en the pair for friends.

    In fact, the lunch was Spy vs. Spy. Scott-Rail­ton had spent the night before try­ing to hide a home­made cam­era into his tie, he lat­er told AP, even­tu­al­ly set­tling for a GoPro action cam­era and sev­er­al record­ing devices hid­den about his per­son. On the table, Lam­bert had placed a large pen in which Scott-Rail­ton said he spot­ted a tiny cam­era lens peek­ing out from an open­ing in the top.

    Lam­bert didn’t seem to be alone. At the begin­ning of the meal, a man sat behind him, hold­ing up his phone as if to take pic­tures and then abrupt­ly left the restau­rant, hav­ing eat­en noth­ing. Lat­er, two or three men mate­ri­al­ized at the bar and appeared to be mon­i­tor­ing pro­ceed­ings.

    Scott-Rail­ton wasn’t alone either. A few tables away, two Asso­ci­at­ed Press jour­nal­ists were mak­ing small talk as they wait­ed for a sig­nal from Scott-Rail­ton, who had invit­ed the reporters to observe the lunch from near­by and then inter­view Lam­bert near the end of the meal.

    The con­ver­sa­tion began with a dis­cus­sion of kites, gos­sip about African politi­cians, and a detour through Scott-Railton’s fam­i­ly back­ground. But Lam­bert, just like Bow­man, even­tu­al­ly steered the talk to Cit­i­zen Lab and NSO.

    “Work dra­ma? Tell me, I like dra­ma!” Lam­bert said at one point, accord­ing to Scott-Railton’s record­ing of the con­ver­sa­tion. “Is there a big com­pe­ti­tion between the peo­ple inside Cit­i­zen Lab?” he asked lat­er.

    Like Bow­man, Lam­bert appeared to be work­ing off cue cards and occa­sion­al­ly made awk­ward con­ver­sa­tion­al gam­bits. At one point he repeat­ed a racist French expres­sion, insist­ing it wasn’t offen­sive. He also asked Scott-Rail­ton ques­tions about the Holo­caust, anti-Semi­tism and whether he grew up with any Jew­ish friends. At anoth­er point he asked whether there might not be a “racist ele­ment” to Cit­i­zen Lab’s inter­est in Israeli spy­ware.

    After dessert arrived, the AP reporters approached Lam­bert at his table and asked him why his com­pa­ny didn’t seem to exist.

    He seemed to stiff­en.

    “I know what I’m doing,” Lam­bert said, as he put his files — and his pen — into a bag. Then he stood up, bumped into a chair and walked off, say­ing “Ciao” and wav­ing his hand, before return­ing because he had neglect­ed to pay the bill.

    As he paced around the restau­rant wait­ing for the check, Lam­bert refused to answer ques­tions about who he worked for or why no trace of his firm could be found.

    “I don’t have to give you any expla­na­tion,” he said. He even­tu­al­ly retreat­ed to a back room and closed the door.
    ...

    At this point, no one knows who those men are and at this point the AP has found no evi­dence that they’re actu­al­ly linked to the NSO Group:

    ...
    Who Lam­bert and Bow­man real­ly are isn’t clear. Nei­ther man returned emails or phone calls. The web­sites for both of their sup­posed com­pa­nies went offline with­in hours of the pub­li­ca­tion of this arti­cle, and chunks of infor­ma­tion, includ­ing the men’s last names, were removed from their respec­tive LinkedIn pro­files.

    Despite their keen focus on NSO, the AP has found no evi­dence that the men were linked to the Israeli spy­ware mer­chant, which is adamant that it wasn’t involved.
    ...

    So were these NSO Group pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors? Per­haps spies hired by the NSO Group? Or were they hired by the Sau­di gov­ern­ment? Who knows, but giv­en the large num­bers of com­pa­nies oper­at­ing in the pri­vate intel­li­gence space the num­ber of pos­si­ble sus­pects is pret­ty vast. Recall how Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca pitched the idea of set­ting up a “hon­ey-pot” trap using Ukrain­ian pros­ti­tutes to dis­cred­it the oppo­nents of a prospec­tive client and keep in mind that the new off­shoot of Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca, Emer­da­ta, that appears to be owned by a UAE-backed group. Entrap­ment is an old trick and there’s going to be no short­age of com­pa­nies offer­ing such ser­vices.

    Also keep in mind that NSO Group is just one of the hack­ing enti­ties that have been found to have Sau­di ties in recent years. For instance, there was Hack­ing Team, the Ital­ian com­pa­ny that sold hack­ing toolk­its to gov­ern­ments, was basi­cal­ly brought by a Saudi/UAE group of investors. Recall how Hack­ing Team hap­pened to offer mal­ware that researchers found to be awful­ly sim­i­lar to the X‑Agent soft­ware that was attrib­uted to be an exclu­sive ‘Fan­cy Bear’ tool and was used in the DNC hacks.

    So we have pos­si­ble Sau­di gov­ern­ment hack­ing activ­i­ty involve­ment in the black­mail of Jeff Bezos and the par­al­lel sto­ry of some sort of entrap­ment scheme tar­get­ing Cit­i­zen Lab, which played a key role in expos­ing the using of NSO Group spy­ware in the mur­der of Jamal Khashog­gi.

    And that all points towards one of the more chill­ing aspects of the grow­ing AMI/Saudi ties: the fact that the Sau­di gov­ern­ment appears to be will­ing to hack with impuni­ty sug­gests AMI is going to have a lot more black­mail mate­r­i­al going for­ward as this AMI/Saudi rela­tion­ship blos­soms.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 8, 2019, 10:59 am

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