DENVER — A senior official who made headlines last week for blocking the transfer of a convicted Saudi rapist was slain at his home last night.
Tom Clements, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections was shot and killed at his Monument home when he opened the door Tuesday night at approximately 8:30 p.m., according to police.
Authorities are reporting the gunman is on the loose. They are searching for a late-model, two-door, “boxy” style vehicle, similar to a 1990s-era Lincoln. The car was described by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office as dark and shiny in color.
A K-9 unit sent to the crime scene has not been able to turn up anything, leading some to consider the possibility that the murder was a professional hit.
Last week, Clements turned down the request for transfer of convicted rapist Homaidan al-Turki to Saudi Arabia. In 2006, al-Turki was convicted of repeatedly raping an Indonesian maid that he kept as a virtual slave in his basement in Aurora for four years.
In addition to his sex crimes, al-Turki has been tied to al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike for his role in the planning of numerous terrorist attacks against the United States. Al-Turki’s publishing company owned the rights to a number of Awlaki’s jihadist sermons and he was reportedly in contact with the now deceased terrorist.
In denying al-Turki’s transfer request, Clements noted the Saudi man refused to undergo treatment while in prison. Prosecutors in the case expressed concern that al-Turki would be let go after returning to Saudi Arabia, as Saudi law requires four eyewitnesses to convict on rape charges.
The Saudi government was heavily involved in al-Turki’s case, with Saudi King Abdullah weighing in against the prosecution and the Saudi government reportedly paying for al-Turki’s defense.
In 2006, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers flew to Saudi Arabia to meet with the King and other high ranking Saudi officials about the case.
A 2006 classified State Department cable written by Deputy Chief of Mission in Saudi Arabia, Michael Gfoeller, said that “some Saudi contacts even fear that [the conviction of al-Turki] could encourage acts against Americans both inside and outside the U.S., including terrorist actions.”
At this time, authorities say no motive has been identified for the killing of Clements, but robbery appears to have been ruled out.
Governor Hickenlooper, who appointed Clements to his position, said in a statement that he “can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it.”
Clements is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two daughters.