The Denver Post has an update today on an ugly yet revealing side-story to the recent tragic killing of Colorado Department of Corrections director Tom Clements. In late March, we noted a rush to associate Clements' murder, since connected to a white supremacist prison gang parolee killed in a Texas shootout, with the case of Homaidan al-Turki–a Saudi man convicted of sex offenses here in Colorado, whose return to Saudi Arabia was denied before Clements' murder. Despite a spate of breathless hysterics from conservative media outlets like the Colorado Observer, "urgent" warnings about a six-year old memo on the case from Sen. Greg Brophy, and more restrained but still dubious news reports from local outlets speculating about a link, please be aware of the fact that absolutely no such link has been found.
The Post's Kirk Mitchell today:
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.
What's missing from this story is any actual information suggesting an actual link between al-Turki and the white supremacist gang 211 Crew. In fact, this story is replete with vague statements that sound scary at first–but in truth indicate nothing has substantively changed with the case…
So far, all that is certain is that Ebel was involved, he said. The gun found in Ebel's car in Texas following a shootout in which Ebel was killed was tied to the murders of pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon and Clements, [El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jeff] Kramer said.
"Did he act alone or in concert with someone else," he said. "I don't think we're leaning one way or the other." [Pols emphasis]
Really? Because this story's headline, "Colorado officials investigate tie between 211 Crew prison gang and Saudi man," sure indicates a "leaning." Only by reading the whole story do we learn that no actual "tie" has been found. Meanwhile, Al-Turki's lawyer insists there is nothing to this, and says his client was put into solitary confinement and "mistreated" by prison officials after Clements' murder–with no actual evidence of any involvement. As the Colorado Independent reported last month, local Muslim groups are increasingly outraged over speculation without evidence that al-Turki may have been involved in Clements' murder.
Bottom line: either a major break in this case is imminent that will exonerate what appears to be totally baseless speculation, in which case we'll need to correct the record, or this is one of the most deplorable, xenophobic episodes in recent memory in the state of Colorado–with lots of blame to go around in local media and perhaps state officials as well. The speculative "tie" between Al-Turki and this white supremacist gang is so weak that without hard evidence to back it up, it's in fact highly irresponsible. And if all of this speculation is either compounding or covering for mistreatment of an inmate to whom no link to the murder of Tom Clements has been demonstrated?
Stay tuned: whether or not justice has been served, this story isn't over.