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Not buying it!: Lawmakers & journalists skeptical of Saudi story about Khashoggi death - report

Multiple US lawmakers, journalists and pundits have so far voiced their disbelief in the official Saudi account of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death, calling it spin and a cover-up.

Some even blamed US President Donald Trump.

Khashoggi, 59, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2. And for two weeks, Saudi Arabia denied Turkish accusations that a team of assassins killed him inside and dismembered his body.

Finally on Saturday, the Saudis owned up and announced that Khashoggi died in an accidental “fistfight” inside the consulate but stop short of admitting it ordered the gruesome murder. 18 people have so far been arrested in connection with the incident.

Notable US lawmakers, journalists and pundits have continue to voice their skepticism over the Saudis side of the story.

“To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement,” tweeted Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

Congressman Ted Lieu (D-California) called the story :

“ridiculous on its face” and brought up a claim by unnamed Turkish officials that Khashoggi had been cut up by a bone saw.

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times also wondered about the bone saw.

"Do fist fights routinely involve bone saws and I just hadn't known that? No?

Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called the official story a “cover-up” that aims to “obfuscate and protect the Mad Prince” - meaning Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - “by pinning this murder on fall guys.

“MBS needs to work on his cover story. This one won’t hunt,” quipped Kristof’s fellow neoconservative and Washington Post columnist Max Boot.

Comedian and political activist Dean Obeidallah blamed Trump - or rather, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and adviser-son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Ali Shihabi, head of the Arabia Foindation in Washington, DC says:

"The official story is not a cover-up or attempt to blame “rogue killers” - as Trump put it several days ago -but implicates high-level intelligence officials.

"The removal of two top officials, a cabinet ranking, very powerful and close advisor of MBS and the Deputy Head of Foreign intelligence + 4 other Generals in foreign intelligence (virtually its whole top leadership) cannot be written off as a cover up. This is unprecedented.

Shihabi also took issue with the machine translations of the Saudi statement, which attributed Khashoggi’s death to a “fistfight,” while the actual cause was a chokehold.

Meanwhile, Prince bin Salman has been put in charge of a Saudi committee tasked with overhauling the country’s General Intelligence Directorate.

The agency’s deputy director and bin Salman adviser, General Ahmed bin Hassan bin Mohammed Asiri, has been sacked over the Khashoggi affair.
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