Today, the BBC is starting to ask questions. In a story with the title "Doubts over Saudi al-Qaeda blow" they get right to the point.
The original story was simple - Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, a leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula - was killed in a shootout after trying to dump the body of the American hostage Paul Johnson.
Johnson had had just been beheaded by Muqrin's group after a deadline expired for the release of prisoners in Saudi jails.
But by Saturday the picture had begun to muddy.
It turns out that Paul Johnson's body had not been discovered after all and the search was still going on for it around Riyadh.
So how was it that Muqrin was found?
The story makes the suggestion that the Saudi police simply lucked out and al-Muqrin ran into a police patrol and started shooting. This is a perfectly plausible story, however, it is speculation. The Saudi police have not suggested anything like this. If this is the case why would the Saudi police lie? The BBC correspondent again makes a perfectly plausible suggestion: they are trying to appear more competent than they really are. The Saudi security forces are involved in propaganda war; they want to discourage the terrorists and convince the Saudi public and foreign community that they are on the ball. Admitting that they tripped over al-Muqrin and killed him without even knowing who he was doesn’t accomplish either of these. Again, this is just a guess.
Until they tell us what really happened we may as well believe it was Elvis on the Grassy Knoll. Lies and secrecy inevitably lead to rumors, distrust, and conspiracy theories.
Meanwhile, much to the pain of his family, Johnson’s body is still unrecovered.