On April 1, 2016 (no it was not an April Fool’s joke), the Washington Post published the following:
“Briar Woods High School, a half-hour drive from the CIA’s headquarters in Northern Virginia, might have provided an ideal training ground for the agency’s bomb-sniffing dogs. Its labyrinthine hallways and voluminous classrooms are home to something that can wreak havoc for the canines: polished floors, which cause dogs to slip and lose their focus as they hunt for explosives.
That was one reason the school, which educates nearly 1,700 students in Ashburn, played host to a CIA dog team for a training exercise while students were on spring break last week, according to the Loudoun County school system. But the choice to go to a public school for the quiet exercise has led to an only-in-Washington embarrassment for the elite spy agency, which left explosive material behind in the engine compartment of a school bus that then shuttled special-needs children for two days this week.
A mechanic discovered and removed the explosive putty — which county Supervisor Koran Saines (D-Sterling) said was the demolition explosive C-4 — during a routine bus maintenance check Wednesday. Until then, no one noticed that it was missing.”
Former Donald Trump chief strategist and 2016 campaign manager Steve Bannon has become a neo-Nazi frequent flyer. Bannon established his organization, known simply as “The Movement,” with the help of some far-right Belgian politicians. In a worrying trend, The Movement is forging close ties with far-right parties and politicians around the world, including Brazil’s incoming president, Jair Bolsonaro, an admitted admirer of Adolf Hitler.
“The Movement,” a secretariat of neo-Nazi and fascist parties is headquartered in Brussels in the same suburban Brussels estate that houses the far-right Parti Populaire, which is led by Mischaël Modrikamen. Modrikamen was the only Belgian political leader to have endorsed Trump in 2016. Modrikamen also rejects a Palestinian state and his party refers to the West Bank by its Israeli names, Judea and Samaria.
Modrikamen’s association with Bannon is emblematic of the current alliance between the Israeli right-wing political establishment and fascist and neo-Nazi parties around the world. Modrikamen’s Jewish father, Marcel, was arrested in Belgium at the age of 16 by the Gestapo for being a member of the Belgian Resistance to Nazi occupation. While many neo-Nazi parties support the right-wing government of Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, they launch anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish targets in their home countries. This paradox was satirized by a cartoon in the Belgian weekly, Le Vif. The cartoon shows Bannon, surrunded by flies, telling a puzzled Modrikamen, “First, we de-Jew Europe.”
The “strange bedfellows” accommodation is reminiscent of the concordat established between Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s and Naftali Lubenchik’s “Revisionist Zionist” of the 1930s and 40s and Nazi Germany. The Lehi movement, also known as the Stern Gang, favored a Revisionist Zionist alliance with Adolf Hitler to drive the British out of the Palestine mandate territory. The Lehi Movement later morphed into the present-day Likud Party of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. In late 1940, the Lehi met with a Nazi diplomat in Beirut to discuss increased Jewish immigration from Europe to Palestine, in contravention of British caps on immigration to the mandate territory. The German diplomat, Werner Otto von Hentig, an admirer of Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, managed to convince Hitler to remove all obstacles to increased Jewish migration from Europe to Palestine via Yugoslav and Greek ports. This was known as the Haavara (Transfer) Agreement. Von Hentig later became an adviser to the Saudi royal family.
The primary goal of The Movement is to upend next year’s elections for the European Parliament. Because national laws in nine European Union countries ban the infusion of foreign cash and in-kind donations of support to political campaigns, including the campaign advice that Bannon’s Movement is offering, Bannon must carry out his work on the fringes of the laws. Although Bannon’s organization is based in Brussels, he sees the UK, which will soon depart the EU, as the best base of operations from which to launch his “Fourth Reich” alliance of fascist parties on the European mainland. Bannon’s political infrastructure in Britain centers around anti-European Union UK Independence Party founder Nigel Farage and Farage’s one-time chief adviser, Raheem Kassam.
Four EU countries that allow foreign campaign help — Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark — are where Bannon is concentrating his efforts to elect far-right candidates as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Bannon has established a working relationship with the governing Fidesz Party in Hungary; Matteo Salvini, the Italian Interior Minister and leader of the League party; Dutch Party of Freedom leader Geert Wilders; the far-right Vox party in Spain; Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang leader Filip Dewinter; the National Rally of Marine Le Pen in France; and the governing Law and Justice of Poland. Bannon has established links with the Italian fascist party, Brothers of Italy, and its leader, Giorgia Meloni. Bannon has also forged ties with far-right politicians in Switzerland, which is not an EU member, and far-right white Afrikaner groups like the Suidlanders.
Right-wingers, some the children and grandchildren of the white Rhodesian diaspora around the world, others neo-Nazi and white supremacists, are championing a return of white minority rule to Zimbabwe, the former white-ruled Rhodesia. Slogans like “Make Zimbabwe Rhodesia Again” are appearing on social media. Bannon also has links to the resurgent Rhodesian diaspora movement.
Although the United States and Britain have laws preventing foreign cash infusions into their political campaigns, Bannon and his associates, including British right-wing businessman Arron Banks, were able to skirt those laws. In 2015, Bannon was able to funnel money and assistance to Banks’s Leave.EU campaign. The vehicle was Bannon’s and the Mercers’ Cambridge Analytica. The UK-based Cambridge Analytica and its sister firm, SCL Elections, both defunct, are under investigation by Britain’s Parliament, National Crime Agency, and the UK Electoral Commission for illegally laundering foreign funds into the Brexit campaign in 2015 and 2016. Similarly, Cambridge Analytica is under investigation by U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller for acting as an interface between the Trump campaign and foreign interests.
In recent weeks, Bannon has spoken at the Oxford Union in England, despite Oxford University protests that saw picket signs bearing the messages “Fascists Not Welcome,” “Racist Bannon Not Welcome Here,” ‘Steve Bannon Out of Oxford,” and “Kick Racism Off Our Campus.” Earlier this month, Bannon appeared at a debate in Toronto, sponsored by the Aurea Foundation, a charitable organization established by Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk. Protesters in the audience unfurled a banner that read, “No Hate. No Bigotry. No Place for Bannon’s White Supremacy.”
Bannon was also invited to speak at the News Xchange conference in Edinburgh. When she discovered that Bannon was one of the conference speakers, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon withdrew from participation in the event. Bannon was greeted by protest signs, such as “Nae Nazis.”
Where Bannon is obtaining the funds to travel throughout Europe, pushing his fascist movement, has many governments inquiring about his funding sources. Ironically, Bannon claims a large portion of his personal fortune arises from his owning partial rights to the sitcom Seinfeld, a program whose Jewish actors and characters might seem anathema to Bannon’s friends in the neo-Nazi movement.
Bannon was a key player in the former election manipulation firm, Cambridge Analytica, which was behind the malfeasance involved in the 2016 Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom and the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Bannon also co-founded the right-wing Breitbart News in 2006. Cambridge Analytica and Breitbart received financial support from billionaire hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer. Bannon’s Belgian partner’s wife, Yasmine Dehaene, serves as Secretary General of her husband’s Parti Populaire. She was also executive director of the alliance of far-right parties in the European Parliament, the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE). Campaign financing violations and in-fighting within the UK Independence Party of Trump’s and Bannon’s colleague, Farage, saw the ADDE ultimately collapse.
In December 2016, a little over a month after Trump’s election, Dahaene was in Israel,along with her husband, to speak at the second Jerusalem Leaders Summit, an invitation-only event. The first summit, in 2015, also featured Dahaene and her ADDE as participants, along with the right-wing Heritage Foundation of the United States. The Modrikamens are frequent travelers to Israel.
Participating in the 2016 summit were Representative David Brat of Virginia and Republican Representative-elect Scott Taylor of Virginia — Republicans, who were recently defeated by Democrats — Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; Becky Norton Dunlop of the Heritage Foundation and Trump’s presidential transitional team; UKIP MEPs Bill Etheridge, Paul Nuttall, Roger Helmer, and Ray Finch; and Sanford Saunders, Co-Managing Shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, the one-time Washington, DC law firm of disgraced and convicted Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
It seems unlikely that Bannon’s operations in Europe and his high-cost travel — involving private planes, chauffeured vehicles, and expensive luxury hotels — to Paris, London, Rome, Venice, Lyon, Prague, Edinburgh, and other cities are being underwritten by partial royalties from Seinfeld re-runs. The Mercers claim they cut Bannon off after his stint as Trump’s chief strategist in the White House. There are reports that Trump, who calls Bannon “Sloppy Steve” — a reference to Bannon’s often unshaven and unkempt appearance — still communicate via the phone. It is also widely believed that Bannon continues to have an interest in the follow-on companies to Cambridge Analytica, which include Emerdata and Auspex International. Although there are multiple denials by the principals, Bannon and his election manipulation associates, who have monetized psychographic data mined from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are believed to have played a part in the electoral wins of Bolsonaro in Brazil and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Pakistan.
Many Americans and Europeans seem to believe that Bannon is a mere caricature of an obese modern-day Hermann Goering. He is much more dangerous. The “Movement” he represents has financial links going back to the U.S.-run “rat lines” that spirited Nazis out of Europe, including places like Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia, and ultimately to South America, Canada, and the United States. Many settled in Bannon’s native southern California, where they became active in the right-wing “Captive Nations” movement that allied with far-right groups like the John Birch Society and Young Americans for Freedom. While there may not be lost “Nazi gold” financing Bannon’s operations, there are generational links to the old Nazis who are assisting Trump’s former “brain.” One of these is Sebastian Gorka, the Hungarian-British-American who worked with Bannon at the White House before both were fired. Gorka holds the Hungarian Order of Vitéz, a medal awarded by the pro-Nazi regime in Hungary to Hungarians who fought with the Nazis against the Allies in World War II. Gorka’s father, Paul Gorka, also holds the order.
What is needed in Europe and other countries being wooed by Bannon and his so-called “populists,” a feel-good cover name for Nazis and fascists, is a popular front reminiscent of that cobbled together in the 1930s and 40s by Europe’s socialists, social democrats, communists, and radical liberals to fight against the Nazis and fascists. The Popular Fronts of Europe not only had to battle against the far-right, but the Trotskyists, who wanted to totally dominate leftist united fronts and exclude bourgeois parties like the liberals. Often, the Popular Fronts were rendered ineffective by internal division, particularly in Germany, Spain, and France.
Today, the left in the United States has its own Trojan horses in “boutique” parties like the Greens and Libertarians, that cooperate with right-wing Republicans to deny electoral victories to the Democrats. Europe must learn how to be smarter than Bannon and his cohorts in combating the resurgence of Nazism and fascism.
For many years, former Florida U.S. Sen. Bob Graham has been a lonely voice urging people to do something about Saudi Arabia.
Now that a group of Saudi security agents are accused in Turkey of killing a Washington Post journalist, Graham is hoping it will get a strong reaction from officials in the United States. So far, President Donald J. Trump and other officials in Washington have done nothing to punish the Saudi government for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the wake of news from Turkey that he was lured to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and murdered last month.
Graham believes the Saudis are also responsible for the deaths of Americans killed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
Fifteen of the nineteen men who flew airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field were citizens of Saudi Arabia. Graham has spent a lot of years trying to help the families of Americans killed on that day and put a spotlight on the actions of high- ranking Saudi officials. It has not been easy.
An important family of Saudi citizens suddenly left their home and cars in a gated Sarasota subdivision just two weeks before September 11, 2001, the day nearly 3,000 Americans died in the worst terrorist attack ever launched in the United States.
Graham was chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee and co-chairman of a joint congressional committee that investigated the attacks. The Committee heard about the Saudis who were on airplanes, but was not told about the Sarasota family that had been visited repeatedly by some of the Saudi pilots who took over those airplanes filled with passengers and crashed them into buildings.
That information came to Graham and others from a report in the FloridaBulldog.org, a South Florida nonprofit news organization.
Graham was flabbergasted to learn from a reporter in September 2011 that the FBI had compiled a report on the Sarasota family. That report that was never given to members of the joint committee investigating the attack. The FBI initially denied the existence of reports on the Sarasota connection, but after Graham and reporters continued to press for access to records, the FBI turned over over 80,000 pages to a federal judge in South Florida. U.S. District Judge William J. “Bill” Zloch has spent the past six years reading the 80,000 pages, but has not responded to a request from Graham’s lawyers for a status report.
The 9/11 Commission’s official report said the hijackers acted on their own without help. But the Joint Committee’s earlier report included a 28-page segment dealing with the FBI’s investigation of Saudi involvement titled “Specific sources of foreign support for hijackers.’’ Those 28 pages were classified by the FBI and not made pubic until 2016.
Graham has long believed those working to block release of the report were trying to protect access to Saudi oil reserves and longtime friendships between the United States and Saudi Arabia. He has received almost no help from other public officials and some officials have repeatedly suggested he “forget it.’’
And the FBI went to some trouble to convince Graham to stop asking questions. Just before Thanksgiving in 2011, Graham, who had retired from the Senate six years earlier, and his wife, Adele, were heading to Washington to spend Thanksgiving with family. The FBI sent agents to meet him at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington. They were detained by high ranking FBI agents, who locked Mrs. Graham in a room by herself while they tried to convince the former senator that the FBI had done a thorough investigation and concluded there was no relationship between the Saudi family that fled Sarasota and the hijackers.
Graham was not convinced. He had seen some of the reports indicating that Mohammed Atta, the Saudi who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center, had been a visitor to the Saudi family’s house in Sarasota. The license plate of the car Atta was driving had been photographed at the subdivision gatehouse and guards had recorded his name in entry logs. When Graham tried to contact the agent who had written the reports, he was told the agent had been transferred from Tampa to Honolulu and was instructed not to return telephone calls.
There was a similar situation in San Diego, where a Saudi family had provided assistance to other hijackers in the United States to obtain flight training, but that incident was reported to members of the joint investigative committee.
“The United States has continued a policy of placating the Saudis that has lasted for three administrations,’’ Graham noted. “It has emboldened them to do even worse things.’’
He is hopeful that some administration will at some point say “To hell with this, we’re going to start treating Saudi Arabia for what it is: a narcissistic nation-state whose only apparent redeeming feature is that it sits on top of the world’s largest petroleum reserves while protecting the identity of Saudi malefactors,’’ Graham said.
The fight by Graham and others to gain access to all of the records is being waged in three different federal courts. The families of those killed on September 11 finally won the right to file suit against Saudi Arabia in an attempt to seek damages. It took an act of Congress and a vote to overturn a presidential veto to gain that right. Their lawsuit for damages is still pending.
Meanwhile, the Florida Bulldog is pursuing two Freedom of Information Act suits against the FBI. The first, before Judge Zloch, is attempting to obtain the bureau’s records of its Sarasota investigation. The second, now before a federal appeals court in Atlanta, seeks record of the FBI’s 9/11 Review Commission.
“I just turned 82 on Friday,’’ Graham says. “I hope I live long enough to see the truth.’’
Journalist Greg Palast details how Brian Kemp, Georgia’s current Secretary of State who is running for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, allegedly pulled off this mass purge, including identifying voters who were thought to have moved out of state or moved out of their congressional district…
In this insane historical era in which we currently live, events, their causes and consequences do not necessarily follow this particular logical sequence of reporting and analyzing; and we have to get used to much worse.
To this effect, a week ago, it was almost impossible to work out who “killed” Khashoggi and why even though the financial and political and consequences were fairly obvious. However, the events of the few days that followed are beginning to shed some light for speculation about the how and why Mr. Khashoggi was killed and who did it.
In asking “how”, the question is not in relation to the gory details of how the man was physically murdered, but in the events that have possibly led to this fateful event. Some conspiracy theorists abound about there being no death or murder. Were he alive, given that the Saudi’s are under such extreme attack worldwide, they would find any opportunity to drag this man before the world’s cameras to prove their innocence.
To analyze the events leading up to the entry of Mr. Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on the 2nd of October 2018, we need to look at a myriad of facts and also possibilities; including cultural ones.
It is very hard to understand the Saudi mind for someone who has never lived in that country. One of the many peculiar aspects of this state is that people, even ordinary people, do not engage in the day-to-day official requirements that members of other nations would.
When I worked and lived in Saudi Arabia, one of the first things I learnt was that the company I worked for had a fulltime employee with the job description of “Mu’aqeb”. The best translation of this title is “expeditor”. This man was in charge of every matter that had to do with dealing with government. He is the one who takes one’s passport and sees that a Saudi “Iquama” (temporary certificate of residence) is produced. He is the one who renews driving licenses. He is the one that does the necessary paperwork to grant employees exit and re-entry visas when they go away on holidays. He even applies on one’s behalf for visas to visit other countries. He even paid water and electricity bills. He did it all, and of course, on top of his salary, he expected a present from employees on their return to work from holidays, and some employees would risk big penalties smuggling in Playboy magazines to reward him with. But the company I worked for was not alone in this regard; all other companies had their own “Mu’aqeb”.
It is against the Saudi psyche, culture and “pride” to go to a government office, wait in line and make an application for anything. Not even uneducated poor Saudis are accustomed to go through the rigmarole of government red-tape and routine.
Mr. Khashoggi was from the upper crust, and it is highly doubtful that he would have been willing and prepared to physically enter the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul seeking an official document.
Furthermore and more importantly, Mr. Khashoggi had a better reason not to enter any Saudi territory. Even though some recent reports portray him as a Wahhabi in disguise among other things, the man had nonetheless made some serious anti-MBS (Mohamed bin Salman) statements.
Jamal Khashoggi was no fool. He knew the modus operandi of the Saudi Government too well. He knew that what he had said was tantamount to a death sentence in the brutal Kingdom of Sand. So what incited him to walk into the Consulate? To receive a divorce certificate so he could remarry as the reports are trying to make us believe? Not a chance.
But this is not all. As a Muslim, Mr. Khashoggi could have gone to any country that upholds Muslim marriage rites and remarried without having to formally divorce his first wife, and then go to America and live with his “new wife” under the guise of a de-facto relationship. So why would he risk his life and walk into a potential death trap?
Logic stipulates that Khashoggi entered the Consulate after he was given vehement assurances that his safety was guaranteed by the Saudi Crown. He would have never entered the Consulate had he not been given this assurance.
But why would the Saudi Government give him this assurance even though he had been very critical of MBS? A good question.
Once again, a logical hypothetical answer to this question could be that Khashoggi had some important meeting with a high ranking Saudi official to discuss some issues of serious importance, and this normally means that he had some classified information to pass on to the Saudi Government; important enough that the Saudi Crown was prepared to set aside Khashoggi’s recent history in exchange of this information.
If we try to connect more dots in a speculative but rational manner, the story can easily become more interesting.
Hatice Cengiz (Turkish for Khadijeh Jengiz) it is claimed, raised the first alarm for Khashoggi’s disappearance, announcing at the same time that she is/was his fiancée. But that latter announcement of hers came as a surprise even to Khashoggi’s own family.
Not much is said and speculated about Hatice in the West, but she is definitely making some headlines in the Arab World, especially on media controlled and sponsored by Saudi Arabia. To this effect, and because the Saudi neck is on the chopping board, it is possible that for the first time ever perhaps, the Saudis are telling the truth.
But the Saudis are the boys who cried wolf, and no one will ever believe them. But, let us explore how they might have got themselves into this bind.
As we connect the dots, we speculate as follows:
Some reports allege that Hatice has had a colourful history, including Mossad training. The same YouTube alleges that she was a Gülenist and was arrested by Erdogan and released under the condition that she works for his security apparatus in order to guarantee her freedom. If such is the case, do we know if she has been also blackmailed in exchange for security of family members, loved ones, property etc? We don’t know.
It has also been reported that Jamal Khashoggi met her only as early as May 2018 and later introduced her as an expert on Omani history and politics. In reality, irrespective of what his family members are saying now, Khashoggi has never introduced her to the world as his fiancée; and this is fact.
So was she his fiancée?
It is at least possible that she wasn’t?
So, who was she to Khashoggi and what role did she possibly play?
The following speculation cannot be proved, but it makes sense:
To explain what a Gülenist is for the benefit of the reader who is unaware of this term, Erdogan blamed former friend and ally Fethullah Gülen for the failed coup attempt of July 2016 and persecuted his followers, putting tens of thousands of them in jail. Erdogan’s relationship with America was already deteriorating at that time because of America’s support to Syrian Kurds, and to add to Erdogan’s woes, America was and continues to give Gülen a safe haven despite many requests by Erdogan to have him extradited to Turkey to face trial. But Gülen is falling out of America’s favour as he seems to have outlived his use-by date, and the Gülenist movement would be in dire need of a new benefactor.
Cengiz, a former Gülenist, released on the above-mentioned conditions and possible threats, might have introduced herself to Khashoggi as an undercover Gülenist, and she had a history to support her claim. Being a former Gülenist, she might have indeed kept a foot in the Gülenist camp, and with the diminishing support of the American Government to the Gulenist movement, she might have been recruited to source finance. The Gülenists might have eyed Saudi Arabia to take this role, and as the rift between the Saudi royals and Erdogan intensified after their former joint effort to topple the legitimate secular government of Syria, the Gülenists would have found in Al-Saud what represents an enemy of an enemy, and they had to find a way to seek Saudi support against Erdogan. MBS himself would have inadvertently invited the Gülenists to approach him when he announced, back in March 2018 during a visit to the Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Egypt, that the triangle of evil in the Middle East is comprised of Iran, Islamist extremists groups and Turkey, and, in naming Turkey, he obviously meant Erdogan personally.
Khashoggi, with his expansive connections, looked like a good candidate to introduce the would-be new partners and broker a deal between them.
Back to what may have incited Khashoggi to enter the Saudi Consulate and to why the Saudi Government would have, in that case, given him a safe entry despite his history. Possibly, Khashoggi believed that he had a “big story” to relay to the Saudi Government; one that most likely exposed big time anti-Saudi dirt about Erdogan.
With the Saudi-led Wahhabi version of fundamentalist Islam competing with the Muslim Brotherhood side, politically and militarily headed by Erdogan, it is not far-fetched to believe that either party is conspiring to topple the other. If Khashoggi had a story to this effect, even if it was fake but credible enough for him to believe, it would have given him the impetus to seek an audience at the Saudi Consulate and hence an expectation for the Consulate to positively reciprocate. In reality, given the history and culture involved, it is hard to fathom that any scenario short of this one would have given either Khashoggi and/or the Saudi officials enough reasons to meet in the manner and place they did.
It is highly likely that Saudi officials had several contingency plans for Khashoggi’s visit; depending on its outcome and the information that he had to offer. Those plans might have included giving him a wide range of treatments, ranging from a red carpet reception in Saudi Arabia, to beheading and dismembering him within the Consulate’s grounds. What happened after Khashoggi entered the precinct of the Consulate is fairly muddy and hard to speculate on. If the above speculations thus far have been accurate, then these are the possible scenarios that followed the fateful CCTV coverage of Khashoggi’s entry to the Consulate:
1. It is possible that the Saudi officials in Turkey have had their own contacts with the Gülenists prior to the supposed ground-breaking visit of Khashoggi. In such a case, if the story Khashoggi may have offered did not fall in line with the story the Saudi’s already know, then Khashoggi would have automatically been branded as suspicious and his safe entry would have been revoked. In such a case, he would have walked into his own trap.
2. On the other hand, if Khashoggi indeed gave Saudi authorities vital information, so vital that it clearly is vehemently pro-Gülen, and as Gülen is no longer an American favourite, then upon his return to America he may have become a Saudi liability that can potentially muddy the Saudi-American waters that the Saudis desperately try to keep clear. In such an instance, it would be opportune for the Saudis to finish him off before he could return to America.
3. A third possibility is that some Saudi officials already working covertly with Gülen saw in Khashoggi an already persona non grata, a dangerous Erdogan implant and decided to take action against him.
If any of the above scenarios are accurate, then the role of Erdogan in this story is not that of a scavenger who capitalized on the rift generated between the Saudis and America, but that he was instrumental in conjuring up and orchestrating the whole drama. Erdogan might have subjected the Saudi Government to the Gülen litmus test, and in such a case, the victim is Saudi Arabia and the scavenger is America seeking silence money in lieu of continued protection of Saudi interests.
In all of the above scenarios, Khashoggi would have been driven into the trap by his alleged fiancée and had his impunity revoked by the Saudi officials because he failed the test.
But what triggered him off personally to walk into this possible trap? What was in it for him? Definitely not divorce documents. Most likely, Khashoggi was after amnesty from the Saudi Crown, and this would be a safety concern not only for Khashoggi himself, but also for his family that continued to live in Saudi Arabia. He may well have thought that by providing vital and sensitive information to his government, his previous “sins” would be set aside and he would be treated as a hero, his family would feel safe, despite that fact that he has criticized the Crown Prince in the past.
Arabic media are inundated with posts and YouTube videos that are very damning of Hatice Cengiz. Most of them perhaps are Saudi propaganda and should not be taken for a grain of salt. In reality however, her sudden emergence as Khashoggi’s “fiancée”, the fact that she allegedly waited for nearly 24 hours before reporting his disappearance and her personal, professional and political history are all factors that cast much doubt about her innocence and instead, portray her as a possible key element in the series of events that led to the disappearance of Khashoggi.
Furthermore, why would a person in her position make rules and conditions about meeting the President of the United States of America, even if this President is Donald Trump? How many people in history have refused the invitation of American Presidents? Who does she think she is or who is she trying to portray herself as?
And if Trump is seizing the opportunity to grab MBS, and this time he will be grabbing by the wallet, if Erdogan smells a hint of preparedness of MBS to support Gülen, then Erdogan would want MBS’s wallet and head. Any whichever way, the silver lining of this story is that for once, Saudi Arabia is finally running for cover. Few around the world will give this brutal royal family any sympathy.
There are other rumours spreading in the Arab world now alluding to the removal of MBS from office and passing over the reins to his brother. MBS has committed heinous war crimes in Yemen and has made huge errors of judgment with regard to Syria and Qatar. He made many enemies, and it seems that Erdogan is out to get him.
It does seem possible that the Assad-must-go curse has reached the neck of the Saudi throne.
At the demise of empire, City of London financial interests created a web of secrecy jurisdictions that captured wealth from across the globe and hid it in a web of offshore islands. Today, up to half of global offshore wealth is hidden in British jurisdictions and Britain and its dependencies are the largest global players in the world of international finance…
My lawyer had to threaten Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp with a federal lawsuit to force him to turn over the names of over half a million voters whose citizenship rights he quietly extinguished.
This past week, I released the name of every one of these Georgia voters Kemp flushed from voter rolls in 2017. If you’re a Georgia resident, check the list. If your name is on it, re-register right now. You only have through tomorrow (October 9).
It’s no coincidence that Georgia’s Purge’n General is also running for Governor: The Republican candidate is fighting a dead-even race against Stacey Abrams, Democratic House Minority Leader. Abrams, if she wins, would become the first Black woman governor in US history.
Suspiciously, Kemp sent no notice to these citizens after he took away their voting rights. If they show up to vote on November 6, they’re out of luck — and so is Georgia’s democracy.
I brought in one of the nation’s top mailing database experts, Mark Swedlund, and his team to go through the list, name by name. Among the voters purged are thousands who supposedly left the state but remain in Georgia. Thousands more are people who moved from one end of town to another and lost their vote — and we even found one who simply moved from one apartment to another in the same building.
These registration cancellations are therefore dead wrong and, say voting law experts, coldly break the law.
That is why Gerald Griggs, counsel for the Atlanta NAACP, and voting rights attorney Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project (a nonpartisan voter registration initiative), are joining in my suit against Kemp.
We’ll be hauling Kemp into federal court to force him to open the records to which the public is entitled under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 — provisions meant to prevent just this type of voter roll shenanigan. In particular, we’re forcing him to disclose the complete detailed process that led to each voter’s removal.
I don’t file federal suits on a whim. Kemp has continually turned down legitimate Open Records Act requests over my five years of investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone.
Griggs and Ufot made their announcement about the suit at a press conference October 2 in Atlanta at the national headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the civil rights group that traces its origins to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The location was meant to make a point. The racial stench from the computerized torching of the Georgia voter files has motivated prominent civil rights leaders from Georgia to add their names to the lawsuit: Axel Adams, executive editor of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition that grew out of two nonprofit organizations founded by Jesse Jackson; Joe Beasley, the former southern regional director for Rainbow PUSH; and SCLC President Dr. Charles Steele Jr., who currently holds the post held by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. until his assassination.
Steele told the gathered media and rights leaders, “Many people have died and paid the supreme sacrifice for people to have the right to vote. What is taking place here in Georgia is an insult to all these efforts and accomplishments.”
Why did I wait to release endangered voters’ names until days before the last day of registration? Because Kemp dragged his feet on my request for the purge lists until literally the last hours before of the 90-day deadline imposed by the law.
I tried to get Kemp’s answers to the NAACP’s and SCLC’s charges that the mass purge of 1 in 10 Georgia voters was aimed at decimating the Black electorate so he could steal the governorship from Abrams.
Technically, Kemp removed voters after they had skipped voting — and failed to return a postcard that, according to Morgan County Elections Board member Helen Butler, “Looks like junk mail. You’d throw it away.” Butler, who also serves as executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, is wary of Kemp’s purge methods. Just last year, her group settled a suit against Kemp that forced him to return over 40,000 voters to the rolls.
The National Voter Registration Act specifically prohibits cancelling voter registrations for not voting. But the failure to vote, in combination with not returning a postcard or other information, can be used to justify a cancellation if there is legitimate belief this is evidence the voter has moved.
“But they have not moved,” notes Swedlund, who says not returning a postcard is an “absurd, dangerous” way to determine if voters have moved — especially if their rights are at stake. And basing cancellations on non-responses to postcards is, Swedlund notes, endemically biased against voters who move often, including the poor, students, and Black and Latino voters — in other words, Democrats.
Notably, Swedlund’s analysts found that 108,000 of the names on Kemp’s hit list were also on the notorious “Interstate Crosscheck” list, which my investigations team had obtained from an insider in Kemp’s office as part of my investigations for Rolling Stone.
The lists were created for Georgia by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, President Donald Trump’s “fraudulent voter hunter.” Kobach himself, interviewed in Kansas, told me the list was sent to Kemp and others to indicate a voter had moved out of state. In fact, we went through each and every Crosscheck-tagged voter’s name — and only 2,000 of the 108,000 Crosschecked voters who were purged have left the state. And the majority of others purged had not moved from their original registration address. In simple terms, most of those whose registrations have been cancelled are legitimate Georgia voters.
Representatives from Kemp’s office issued a statement this week denying they used the Crosscheck list, but they did not know we had obtained the list despite Kemp’s resistance. Furthermore, Kemp’s former deputy and his predecessor as Secretary of State both confirmed Georgia participated in Crosscheck.
Meanwhile, Kemp had no clear response as to why the others were removed.
So, I thought it important to get the answers about the purges from the horse’s mouth. But Kemp has weaved and ducked all my interview requests in my several trips to Georgia beginning in 2014.
So, this time, I decided to track down his campaign bus. On Tuesday, I located the candidate in the parking lot of a BBQ joint in Newnan, 38 miles outside Atlanta. You could smell the pigs roasting.
I asked Kemp, bluntly, “Mr. Kemp are you removing Black voters from the voter rolls just so you can win this election?”
Kemp’s answer was to turn his back as I was physically body-blocked, then grabbed and hauled away by Georgia “smokies,” the local county deputy sheriffs. (They claimed that Sprayberry’s Barbecue ordered me off the property, but the owner said otherwise.) It was later reported that his handlers had clocked me before the bus pulled in.
The civil rights leaders are dissatisfied with Kemp’s response and will press our litigation. “Georgia,” said the SCLC’s Steele, “needs to know that we’re not going to take it anymore.”