On the evening of March 19th, the Executive Director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections – Tom Clements – was murdered in his home. For a little more than 36 hours, an incarcerated Saudi national named Homaidan al-Turki was a person of interest because about a week prior to the murder, Clements denied a request by al-Turki to serve the remainder of his sentence in Saudi Arabia.
Then, on March 21st, interest in al-Turki essentially dried up when Evan Ebel was killed in a shootout with police in Texas. Evidence pointed to this parolee who belonged to 211 Crew, a white-supremacist prison gang, being the guy who assassinated Clements. In much the same way that interest in Abdulrahman Ali Al-Harbi all but disappeared when the Chechen Tsarnaev brothers were identified as the Boston marathon bombers, so did interest in the possibility of al-Turki being implicated in Clements’ murder.
Not. So. Fast.
Federal and state investigators pursuing leads in the killing of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements are exploring possible links between a prison gang and a Saudi man whose petition to be sent back home was denied by Clements just one week before his death.
Police say the man suspected of killing Clements on March 19 was parolee Evan Ebel, but in recent weeks they have shifted their attention to two major questions: Why? And did he have help?
Why indeed. Consider that one of the narratives about why Ebel would have murdered Clements was that the former had snapped as a result of solitary confinement. Aside from Ebel being released from prison four years before he should have been due to a clerical error, Clements had a track record of pulling back on solitary confinement. Neither of those realities seem like motives for Ebel to murder Clements. On the contrary, both would seem to be reasons not to.
Back to the Denver Post:
FBI agents are investigating any possible financial transactions between al-Turki and 211 Crew members to determine whether he had hired the gang for protection, among other things, sources told The Denver Post. Investigators are examining his bank records, prison financial accounts and prison commissary records. Investigators are also interviewing al-Turki associates who run errands for him outside of prison, one source said.
“The FBI is trying to trace the money,” the source said. “Al-Turki has tons of money in his bank accounts. He has operatives in the U.S. that he calls. He tells them to move money here or there. When he calls on a prison phone, it’s all recorded. We know he moves money from account to account.”
That al-Turki is awash in money is in direct contradiction to the assertions made by his attorney, Hal Haddon:
Haddon said al-Turki was a linguistics doctoral student at the University of Colorado and has no money. His family sends him money to buy canteen food including “pizza” and money for very expensive phone calls to Saudi Arabia. He added that the government of Saudi Arabia has also contributed to his support.
“He’s been in prison seven years,” Haddon said. “He is not a man of great means. He was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado.”
Any notion that al-Turki had money to pay for Clements’ murder is “nonsense,” said Haddon, one of the state’s top attorneys. Al-Turki also has other Colorado attorneys and lobbyists working on his behalf.
Someone’s lying. Note that according to the Post, Haddon is ‘one of the state’s top attorneys’. Yet, this ‘top attorney’ is saying his client is broke. Uh, so are we to believe that Haddon so believes in al-Turki’s innocence and is so passionate about defending him that he’s doing so pro-bono?
How about those other ‘attorneys and lobbyists’? Them too?
Even if Al-Turki isn’t awash in money, the Saudi government is and it has demonstrated high-level interest in seeing al-Turki freed.
By Haddon’s own admission, al-Turki is receiving support from the Saudi government. What kind of support might that be? Between professionally done documentaries, televised interviews with al-Turki, and a video featuring prominent Saudis calling on Obama to release him, there is certainly financial support in the form of a media campaign from the Saudis on al-Turki’s behalf.
Moreover, we already know that before al-Turki’s conviction in 2006, the Saudi government posted his bail:
Why would the Saudi government go to these great lengths to assist al-Turki only to stop short of helping with his legal defense?
Haddon’s assertion that al-Turki is ‘not a man of great means’ is grossly dishonest. If al-Turki is innocent, why make such a demonstrably false statement, notwithstanding the fact that Haddon is a defense attorney?
As an interesting aside, Evan Ebel’s father (Jack Ebel) is an old friend of Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and also contributed to the Governor’s electoral campaign.
Here is a video of an exchange between Hickenlooper and a reporter with a Denver NBC affiliate shortly after Ebel’s death. Hickenlooper gets quite testy at around the 3:25 mark:
Be sure to read the entire Denver Post article. There is a lot to this story.