Commentary: Rumors fly of Bandar’s death
August 1, 2012
ASPEN – In the newspaper business, the first rule about covering someone’s death is to make sure of one thing: The person is actually dead. If a reporter is 99.9 percent certain a person is dead, that’s not good enough, at least not for this publication.
With that ethical posturing out of the way, Prince Bandar bin Sultan – a man well known in Aspen circles because of his generosity to nonprofits, fat tips to ski instructors and other worker bees, and the palatial Starwood estate near Aspen that he recently sold for $49 million to hedge-funder John Paulson – is reported to have been assassinated.
At least that’s the buzz online with a few news sites. Here are a few headlines from over the past 24 hours (as I’m writing this at 4:49 p.m. Tuesday).
• “Saudi spy chief Prince Bandar assassinated: report” – Tehran Times
• “Saudi silence on intelligence chief Bandar’s fate denotes panic” – Debka.com
• “Report: Saudi intelligence chief murdered by Syrian hit men” – DigitalJournal.com
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It was the Tehran Times, which considers itself the voice of the Islamic Revolution, that broke the story. But there hasn’t been a peep about Bandar’s death from Al Jazeera, arguably the most credible news outlet in the Middle East.
Not a whimper from The New York Times or CNN, either, at least as this is being written.
The news outlets that are reporting his death, citing unnamed sources, say he “was killed because of his role in the July 18 deadly bombing in Damascus.” That Saudi Arabia won’t give any confirmation or denial about Bandar, who was appointed as head of the Saudi intelligence agency a day after the bombing, only fuels the fire.
Bandar’s Aspen attorney, William Jordan III, wasn’t in his office Tuesday. High-ranking officials with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday they hadn’t heard about the alleged assassination of Bandar (I’m not exactly sure why they’d have a direct pipeline on the Saudi royal family, but it never hurts to ask).
In the meantime, we’ll see how this whole thing plays out if it plays out at all.