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Khashoggi in 2011
Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi|
13 October 1958
Medina, Saudi Arabia
2 October 2018 (aged 59)|
Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey
|Alma mater||Indiana State University|
|Occupation||Journalist, columnist, author|
Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi (Arabic: جمال خاشقجي Jamāl Khāshuqjī, Hejazi: [ʒaˈmaːl χaːˈʃoɡʒi], born 1958– disappeared 2 October 2018) was a Saudi journalist, author, and the former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel. He also was editor for Saudi newspaper Al Watan, turning it into a platform for Saudi progressives.
Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in September 2017. He said that the Saudi government had banned him from Twitter and later wrote newspaper articles critical of the government. Khashoggi has been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and the country's king, Salman of Saudi Arabia. He also opposed the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.
Khashoggi disappeared on 2 October 2018 and was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by its main entrance. Anonymous Turkish police sources have alleged that he was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate. The Saudi government claims that Khashoggi left the consulate alive through a rear entrance, but Turkish police say that no CCTV recorded him exiting the consulate. On 15 October, an inspection of the consulate, by both Turkish and Saudi officials, took place. His death has not been confirmed by Saudi officials, however, Saudi sources have reported to the media that he died while being interrogated by agents of the Saudi Royal Family.
Early life and education
Jamal Khashoggi was born in Medina in 1958. His grandfather, Muhammad Khashoggi, who was of Turkish origin (Kaşıkçı), married a Saudi woman and was personal physician to King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Khashoggi is the nephew of late, high-profile Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, known for his part in the Iran-Contra scandal, who was estimated to have had a net worth of US$4 billion in the early 1980s. Jamal Khashoggi’s cousin, Dodi Fayed, was dating Britain’s Princess Diana when the two were killed in a car crash in Paris.
Jamal Khashoggi began his career as a regional manager for Tihama Bookstores from 1983 to 1984. Later he worked as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette and as an assistant manager for Okaz from 1985 to 1987. He continued his career as a reporter for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers from 1987 to 1990, including Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Majalla and Al Muslimoon. Khashoggi became managing editor and acting editor-in-chief of Al Madina in 1991 and his term lasted until 1999.
From 1991 to 1999, he was a foreign correspondent in such countries as Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and in the Middle East. It is also claimed that he served with both Saudi Intelligence Agency and possibly the United States in Afghanistan during this period. He then was appointed a deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News, the leading English newspaper of Saudi Arabia and served in the post from 1999 to 2003.
Khashoggi became the editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily Al Watan for a short period, less than two months, in 2003.  He was fired in May 2003 by the Saudi ministry of information because he had allowed a columnist to criticize the Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyya (1263 - 1328), who is considered the founding father of Wahhabism – a movement that the Muslim Brotherhood has always been at odds with. This incident led to Khashoggi's dubious reputation in the West as a liberal progressive.
After he was fired, Khashoggi went to London in voluntary exile. There he joined the Al Faisal's team as an adviser. He then served as a media aide to Prince Turki Al Faisal, while the latter was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States. In April 2007, Khashoggi began to work as editor-in-chief in Al Watan for a second time.
A column by poet Ibrahim al-Almaee challenging the basic Salafi premises was published in Al Watan in May 2010, which led to Khashoggi's seemingly forced resignation, now for a second time, on 17 May 2010. Al Watan announced that Khashoggi resigned as editor-in-chief "to focus on his personal projects". However, it is thought that he was forced to resign due to official displeasure with articles published in the paper that were critical of the Kingdom's harsh Islamic rules. After his second resignation from Al Watan in 2010 Khashoggi maintained ties with Saudi elites, including those in its intelligence apparatus. In 2015 he launched the satellite news channel Al-Arab, based in Bahrain outside Saudi Arabia as the country does not allow independent news channels to operate within its borders. The news channel was backed by of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and partnered with US financial news channel Bloomberg Television. But the channel was on air for less than 11 hours before it was shut down by Bahrain. He was also a political commentator for Saudi and international channels, including MBC, BBC, Al Jazeera and Dubai TV. Between June 2012 and September 2016, his opinion columns were regularly published by Al Arabiya.
Citing a report from Middle East Eye, The Independent said in December 2016 that Khashoggi had been banned by Saudi Arabian authorities from publishing or appearing on television "for criticising US President-elect Donald Trump".
Khashoggi relocated to the United States in June 2017 and began writing for the The Washington Post in September 2017, continuing thereafter. In the Post, he criticized the Saudi-led blockade against Qatar, Saudi Arabia's dispute with Lebanon, Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada and the Kingdom's crackdown on dissent and media. Kashoggi supported some of Crown Prince's reforms, like allowing women to drive, but he condemned the Saudi Arabia's arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul, who was ranked 3rd in the list of Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2015, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza al-Yousef, and several other women's rights advocates involved in the women to drive movement and the anti male-guardianship campaign.
Speaking to the BBC’s Newshour, Khashoggi criticized Israel's settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying: "There was no international pressure on the Israelis and therefore the Israelis got away with building settlements, demolishing homes."
According to The Spectator, "With almost two million Twitter followers, he was the most famous political pundit in the Arab world and a regular guest on the major TV news networks in Britain and the United States." In 2018, Khashoggi established a new political party called Democracy for the Arab World Now, posing a political threat to Crown Prince Mohammed. He wrote in a Post column on 3 April 2018 that Saudi Arabia "should return to its pre-1979 climate, when the government restricted hard-line Wahhabi traditions. Women today should have the same rights as men. And all citizens should have the right to speak their minds without fear of imprisonment."
Interviews with Osama bin Laden
Khashoggi befriended Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan and Sudan while championing his jihad against the Soviets in dispatches. At that same time, he was employed by the Saudi intelligence services to try to persuade bin Laden to make peace with the Saudi royal family. Khashoggi interviewed bin Laden several times. He also met bin Laden in Tora Bora, and once more in Sudan in 1995.
It is reported that Khashoggi once tried to persuade bin Laden to quit violence. Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi who knew of the royals' intimate dealing with al Qaeda in the lead-up to the 9/11 terror attacks. He dissociated himself from bin Laden following the attacks.
Khashoggi was last seen going inside the main entrance of the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018, in order to obtain a document that proved he was divorced. This document would allow him to marry his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, a Turkish citizen, who waited outside. As he did not come out after 4 PM, though the working hours of the consulate were until 3:30 PM, his fiancée reported him missing when the consulate closed. The Saudi government said that he had left the consulate via a back entrance. The Turkish government said that he was still inside, and his fiancée and friends said that he was missing.
According to numerous anonymous police sources, the Turkish police believe that Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a 15-member team brought in from Saudi Arabia for the operation. One anonymous police source claimed that the dead body was chopped to pieces and quietly moved out of the consulate, and all of this was "videotaped to prove the mission had been accomplished and the tape was taken out of the country".
Turkish authorities have claimed that security camera footage of the day of the incident was removed from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and that Turkish consulate staff were abruptly told to take a holiday on the day Khashoggi disappeared while inside the building. Turkish police investigators told the media that the recordings from the security cameras did not show any evidence of Khashoggi leaving the consulate. A security camera was located outside the consulate's front which had showed him entering but not leaving, while another camera installed at a preschool opposite of the rear entrance of the consulate also did not show him leaving.
On 7 October, Turkish officials pledged to release evidence showing that Khashoggi was killed. Yasin Aktay, an adviser to the Turkish president, initially said he believed Khashoggi had been killed in the consulate, but on 10 October he claimed “the Saudi state is not blamed here”, something the Guardian journalist sees as Turkey trying not to harm lucrative trade ties and a delicate regional relationship with Saudi Arabia. Turkey then claimed to have direct audio and video evidence of the killing occuring inside the consulate.
Al-Waqt news quoted informed sources as saying that Mohammad bin Salman had assigned Ahmad Asiri, the deputy head of the Al-Mukhabarat Al-A'amah and the former spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, with the mission to execute Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Another military officer with lots of experience in dealing with dissidents was the second candidate for the mission. On the same day, Turkish media close to the president published images of what it described as a 15-member "assassination squad" allegedly sent to kill Khashoggi, and of a black van later traveling from the Saudi consulate to the consul's home.
Reuters reported on 11 October that Turkish officials were investigating whether Khashoggi's Apple Watch would reveal clues as to what happened to him inside the Saudi consulate, examining whether data from the smartwatch could have been transmitted to the cloud, or his personal phone, which was with his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
On 15 October, CNN reported that Saudi Arabia was about to admit to the killing, but claim that the atrocity was an "interrogation gone bad," as opposed to a targeted death squad killing. This claim drew criticism from some, considering that Jamal Khashoggi was dismembered and that his killing was allegedly premeditated, and the circumstances, including the arrival and departure of a team of 15, including forensic specialists presumed to have been present to hide evidence of the crime, on the same day. This claim came out concurrently with a contradictory claim alleging that the team who carried out the killing was a rogue element who carried out the atrocity without any participation with the Kingdom at large.
Analysts have suggested that Khashoggi might have been considered especially dangerous by the Saudi leadership because he was not a long-time dissident, but rather a pillar of the Saudi establishment who was close to its ruling circles for decades, had worked as an editor at Saudi news outlets and had been an adviser to a former Saudi intelligence chief.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman claimed Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after the visit. The English-language Arab News on 10 October 2018 reported that the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Khalid bin Salman, "condemns ‘malicious leaks and grim rumors’ surrounding Khashoggi disappearance" and that "the reports that suggest that Jamal Khashoggi went missing in the Consulate in Istanbul or that the Kingdom's authorities have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless". Saudi Arabia threatened to retaliate "if it is [targeted by] any action". Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned pan-Arab televison based in Dubai, claimed that reports of Khashoggi’s disappearance inside the Saudi consulate have been pushed by Qatar. According to the Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Okaz, Qatar has a "50 percent ownership of the Post and has influence over its editorial direction." Saudi Arabian daily newspaper Al Yaum has claimed that members of the death squad were in fact tourists.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on Saudi Arabia "to support a thorough investigation of Mr. Khashoggi's disappearance and to be transparent about the results of that investigation." President Trump expressed concern about the fate of Khashoggi. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy wrote that if the reports of Khashoggi's murder are true, "it should represent a fundamental break" in Saudi Arabia–United States relations. Murphy also called for at least a temporary halt in U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul said that he would attempt to force a vote on blocking the future U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Senator Bob Corker, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Trump over Khashoggi’s disappearance. Signed by the entire Committee other than Senator Paul who prepared his own letter, it "instructs the administration to determine whether Khashoggi was indeed kidnapped, tortured, or murdered by the Saudi government and, as the Global Magnitsky Act requires, to respond within 120 days with a determination of sanctions against individuals who may have been responsible." U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said that "it seems clear that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman feels emboldened by the Trump administration’s unquestioning support." President Trump told journalists: "I know [Senators] are talking about different kinds of sanctions, but [the Saudis] are spending $110 billion on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country." Trump, in responding specifically to the Senate's attempt to block the Saudi arms deal, stated that the blocking of such a deal "would not be acceptable to me." While opposing trade sanctions, Trump remained open to the possibility of other forms of what he described as the "severe punishment" of Saudi Arabia.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt met the Saudi Arabian ambassador and warned Saudi Arabia that the long-term friendship between the UK and Saudi Arabia depends on "shared values". Labour's Shadow First Secretary of State Emily Thornberry criticized Theresa May's government's response to Khashoggi's disappearance as 'too little, too late'.
The Washington Post reported on 9 October that "US intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture" Khashoggi. It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the US warned Khashoggi that he was a target. The intercepted communication is deemed important because Khashoggi is a legal resident of the United States, and is therefore entitled to protection. According to NSA officials, this threat warning was communicated to the White House through official intelligence channels.
Richard Branson issued a statement on 11 October that he was suspending his advisory role for the two Saudi Vision 2030-related projects amidst the Khashoggi controversy. Viacom CEO Robert Bakish, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, AOL co-founder Steve Case, Richard Branson's Virgin Group, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the Financial Times, Bloomberg, CNN, The New York Times, The Economist, CNBC, and Ford Motor chairman Bill Ford all withdrew their participation in the Saudi Future Investment Initiative (FII), which is in its second year. Y Combinator CEO Sam Altman announced that he is suspending his "involvement with the NEOM advisory board until the facts regarding Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance are known."
According to Rami George Khouri, a professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut, "The case of Jamal Khashoggi, unfortunately, is only the tip of the iceberg...it would only be the most dramatic example of a trend that has been ongoing for at least 30 to 40 years, but which has escalated under [Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman],".
On the evening of 14 October, President Erdoğan and King Salman announced that a deal had been made for a "jointing working group" to examine the case. On 15 October the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that an "inspection" of the consulate, by both Turkish and Saudi officials, would take place that afternoon. On the same day, after speaking to the Saudi king by phone, President Trump said that Salman “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened... The denial was very, very strong, It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”
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- Jamal Khashoggi on Twitter
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- Visual guide on Jamal disappearance on The Guardian.
- Read Jamal Khashoggi’s columns for The Washington Post