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Jamal Khashoggi Killed By Saudi Security - History

Jamal Khashoggi Killed By Saudi Security - History


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Jamal Khashoggi Killed By Saudi Security

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Jamal Khashoggi a Saudi citizen but resident of the US and opinion columnist for the Washington Post entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. His fiancé was waiting outside, he never exited and was killed by Saudi Arabian security personnel and his cut his body into pieces. The international community was enraged, and the act has hurt Saudi ties with parts of the Western World.


Jamal bin Ahmad Khashoggi was born in Saudi Arabia in 1958. He was a well known Saudi journalist who was close the regime for almost his whole career. In 2017 he started to be critical of some of the actions of the region especially of those of the Saudi Crown Prince. He left Saudi Arabia in May of 2017 and began soon working for the Washington Post as an opinion writer. Khashoggi who had been well known in journalist circles even before he began working for the Post had a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

On October 2, 2018, he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to receive paperwork on his previous divorce that would allow him to marry his fiancé. His fiance waited outside, but he never left the building. In fact, once in the building, he was killed by a squad of Saudi security personnel. His body was taken dismembered and taken out of the building.

The Saudi at first denied that anything had taken place. After the Turkish government proved that he had been killed in the building the government changed its story claiming his death as accidental. As it became evident world outrage at Saudi Arabia became strong, with much of it aimed at the Saudi Crown Prince. The death in such a grisly fashion of an individual who was well known especially by much of the journalist world resulted in what to some was just another act by a government which has little concern for things such as human rights into a significant problem for the Saudi government. One whose impact while not permanent seriously wounded the image that Saudi Arabia was trying to protect,


Jamal Khashoggi: How journalist met his death inside Saudi consulate in Istanbul

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 to obtain papers he needed to get married. He never re-emerged.

Reports claimed that the Washington Post columnist had been tortured, murdered and dismembered inside the building for his opposition to the Riyadh regime after a hit squad was sent to target him.

After Saudi Arabia confirmed Mr Khashoggi died inside the consulate, sources told Sky News Mr Khashoggi was "cut up" and his face "disfigured".

Here, Sky News looks at how events unfolded on the day the journalist was killed.

The following images from Turkish media appear to show the events of the day, but there is no way to independently verify them.


Contents

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was born in Medina on 13 October 1958. [1] [23] His grandfather, Muhammad Khashoggi, who was of Turkish origin (né Muhammed Halit Kaşıkçı), and originally from Kayseri, [24] married a Saudi Arabian woman and was personal physician to King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [25]

Jamal Khashoggi was the nephew of the high-profile Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, known for his part in the Iran–Contra scandal, [26] [27] who was estimated to have had a net worth of US$4 billion in the early 1980s. [28] [29] Jamal Khashoggi was also the first cousin of Dodi Fayed, who was the companion of Diana, Princess of Wales, when the couple were killed in a Paris car accident. [30]

Khashoggi received his elementary and secondary education in Saudi Arabia and obtained a BBA degree from Indiana State University in the United States in 1982. [10] [31] [32]

Jamal Khashoggi began his career as a regional manager for Tihama Bookstores from 1983 to 1984. [33] Later he worked as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette and as an assistant manager for Okaz from 1985 to 1987. [33] He continued his career as a reporter for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers from 1987 to 1990, including Asharq Al-Awsat, Al Majalla and Al Muslimoon. [10] [33] Khashoggi became managing editor and acting editor-in-chief of Al Madina in 1991 and his tenure in that position lasted until 1999. [33]

From 1991 to 1999, he was a foreign correspondent in such countries as Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and in the Middle East. [10] It is also claimed that he served with both Saudi Arabian Intelligence Agency and possibly the United States in Afghanistan during this period. [35] He then was appointed a deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News, and served in the post from 1999 to 2003. [36]

Political views Edit

Khashoggi 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." [37] He also said that Saudis "must find a way where we can accommodate secularism and Islam, something like what they have in Turkey." [38] In a posthumous (17 October 2018) article, "What the Arab world needs most is free expression", Khashoggi described the hopes of Arab world press freedom during the Arab Spring and his hope that an Arab world free press independent from national governments would develop so that "ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face." [39]

In the Post, he criticized the Saudi Arabian-led blockade against Qatar, [37] Saudi Arabia's dispute with Lebanon, [40] Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada, [41] and the Kingdom's crackdown on dissent and media. [42] Khashoggi supported some of Crown Prince's reforms, such as allowing women to drive, [43] but he condemned Saudi Arabia's arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul, who was ranked third 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. [37]

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." [44]

Appearing on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV's programme Without Borders, Khashoggi stated that Saudi Arabia, to confront Iran, must re-embrace its proper religious identity as a Wahhabi Islamic revivalist state and build alliances with organisations rooted in political Islam such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and that it would be a "big mistake" if Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be friendly. [45]

Khashoggi criticized the Saudi war on Yemen, writing "The longer this cruel war lasts in Yemen, the more permanent the damage will be. The people of Yemen will be busy fighting poverty, cholera and water scarcity and rebuilding their country. The crown prince [Mohammed bin Salman] must bring an end to the violence," and "Saudi Arabia's crown prince must restore dignity to his country – by ending Yemen's cruel war." [46]

According to Khashoggi, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri's forced resignation in a live television broadcast from Saudi Arabia on 4 November 2017 "could in part be due to the 'Trump effect,' particularly the U.S. president's strong bond with MBS. The two despise Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, a sentiment the Israelis share." [40]

Khashoggi wrote in August 2018 that "Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known by his initials, MBS, is signaling that any open opposition to Saudi domestic policies, even ones as egregious as the punitive arrests of reform-seeking Saudi women, is intolerable." [41] According to Khashoggi, "while MBS is right to free Saudi Arabia from ultra-conservative religious forces, he is wrong to advance a new radicalism that, while seemingly more liberal and appealing to the West, is just as intolerant of dissent." [47] Khashoggi also wrote that "MBS's rash actions are deepening tensions and undermining the security of the Gulf states and the region as a whole." [40]

Khashoggi criticized Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi's government in Egypt. According to Khashoggi, "Egypt has jailed 60,000 opposition members and is deserving of criticism as well." [41] Khashoggi wrote that despite U.S. President Barack Obama's "declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military's return to power in the largest Arab country – along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement." [48] Morsi's government was removed from office in July 2013. [49]

Khashoggi was critical of Iran’s Shi'a sectarianism. He wrote in February 2016: "Iran looks at the region, particularly Syria, from a sectarian angle. The militias Tehran is relying on, some of which come from as far as Afghanistan, are sectarian. They raid Syrian villages with sectarian slogans, bringing to life conflicts from over a thousand years ago. With blood and sectarianism, Iran is redrawing the map of the region." [50]

Opinions on Khashoggi's views Edit

CNN described Khashoggi as a "journalist simply doing his job who evolved from an Islamist in his twenties to a more liberal position by the time he was in his forties," and that "by 2005, Khashoggi said he had also rejected the Islamist idea of creating an Islamic state and had turned against the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia. According to CNN he also had embraced the Enlightenment and American idea of the separation of church and state." [38] According to Egypt Today, Khashoggi revealed "yes, I joined the Muslim Brotherhood organization when I was at university and I was not alone. Some of the current ministers and deputies did but later every one of us developed their own political tendencies and views." [49] Politically, Khashoggi was supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood as an exercise in democracy in the Muslim world. In one of his own blogs he argued for the Muslim Brotherhood, and wrote that: "there can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it." [51] [48] The Irish Times journalist Lara Marlowe wrote that "If Christian democracy was possible in Europe, why could Arabs not be ruled by Muslim democracy, Jamal asked. That may explain his friendship with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan constituted the greatest hope of Muslim democracy, until he too turned into a despot." [52]

According to The Washington Post, while "Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts on the Middle East who have tracked his career." [53]

Donald Trump Jr. promoted the idea that Khashoggi was a "jihadist". [54] According to David Ignatius, Khashoggi was in his early 20s "a passionate member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The brotherhood was a secret underground fraternity that wanted to purge the Arab world of the corruption and autocratic rule it saw as a legacy of Western colonialism." [43] According to The New York Times, Khashoggi "balanced what appears to have been a private affinity for democracy and political Islam with his long service to the royal [Saudi] family", and that "His attraction to political Islam helped him forge a personal bond with President Erdogan of Turkey". It also states that "Several of his friends say that early on Mr. Khashoggi also joined the Muslim Brotherhood", and that "Although he later stopped attending meetings of the Brotherhood, he remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend". The newspaper also writes that "By the time he reached his 50s, Mr. Khashoggi's relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it". [26]

According to Anthony Cordesman, the national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Khashoggi's "ties to the Muslim Brotherhood do not seem to have involved any links to extremism." [55] According to The Spectator, "Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process", and that "In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy", and that he "was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in The Washington Post", and that he "frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy." [56] According to others, Khashoggi was critical of Salafism, the ultra-conservative Sunni movement, though "not as a French liberal, but as a moderate Muslim reformist". [57] [51] [43]

Relationship with Osama bin Laden Edit

Khashoggi was acquainted with Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan while bin Laden was championing his jihad against the Soviets. Khashoggi interviewed bin Laden several times, usually meeting bin Laden in Tora Bora, and once more in Sudan in 1995. [58] [59] According to The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, "Khashoggi couldn't have traveled with the mujahideen that way without tacit support from Saudi intelligence, which was coordinating aid to the fighters as part of its cooperation with the CIA against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. . Khashoggi criticized Prince Salman, then governor of Riyadh and head of the Saudi committee for support to the Afghan mujahideen, for unwisely funding Salafist extremist groups that were undermining the war." [43]

Al Arabiya reported that Khashoggi once tried to persuade bin Laden to quit violence. [60] [43] In 1995 was sent to Khartoum by the Saudi government to convince bin Laden to abandon jihad, which Crown Prince Abdullah promised would be reciprocated with a restoration of bin Laden's Saudi citizenship and readmission into Saudi Arabia. During their first meeting bin Laden claimed to have moved on to peaceful agricultural and construction projects and repeatedly condemned the use of violence, but refused to allow Khashoggi to record his statements. During their second meeting bin Laden became more belligerent and called for a military campaign to drive the United States out of the Arabian Peninsula. On the third meeting bin Laden refused to publicly condemn the use of violence without Saudi concessions such as a full pardon or an American military withdrawal. [61]

Khashoggi said: "I was very much surprised [in 1997] to see Osama turning into radicalism the way he did." [38] Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi Arabian who knew of the royals' intimate dealing with al-Qaeda in the lead-up to the September 11 attacks. He dissociated himself from bin Laden following the attacks. [56]

Khashoggi wrote in response to 11 September attacks: "The most pressing issue now is to ensure that our children can never be influenced by extremist ideas like those 15 Saudis who were misled into hijacking four planes that fine September day, piloting them, and us, straight into the jaws of hell." [58]

The New York Times describes that after SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggi mourned his old acquaintance and what he had become. He wrote on Twitter: "I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah", using bin Laden's nickname, and continued: "You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion." [26]


Contents

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was born in Medina on 13 October 1958. [1] [23] His grandfather, Muhammad Khashoggi, who was of Turkish origin (né Muhammed Halit Kaşıkçı), and originally from Kayseri, [24] married a Saudi Arabian woman and was personal physician to King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [25]

Jamal Khashoggi was the nephew of the high-profile Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, known for his part in the Iran–Contra scandal, [26] [27] who was estimated to have had a net worth of US$4 billion in the early 1980s. [28] [29] Jamal Khashoggi was also the first cousin of Dodi Fayed, who was the companion of Diana, Princess of Wales, when the couple were killed in a Paris car accident. [30]

Khashoggi received his elementary and secondary education in Saudi Arabia and obtained a BBA degree from Indiana State University in the United States in 1982. [10] [31] [32]

Jamal Khashoggi began his career as a regional manager for Tihama Bookstores from 1983 to 1984. [33] Later he worked as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette and as an assistant manager for Okaz from 1985 to 1987. [33] He continued his career as a reporter for various daily and weekly Arab newspapers from 1987 to 1990, including Asharq Al-Awsat, Al Majalla and Al Muslimoon. [10] [33] Khashoggi became managing editor and acting editor-in-chief of Al Madina in 1991 and his tenure in that position lasted until 1999. [33]

From 1991 to 1999, he was a foreign correspondent in such countries as Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and in the Middle East. [10] It is also claimed that he served with both Saudi Arabian Intelligence Agency and possibly the United States in Afghanistan during this period. [35] He then was appointed a deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News, and served in the post from 1999 to 2003. [36]

Political views Edit

Khashoggi 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." [37] He also said that Saudis "must find a way where we can accommodate secularism and Islam, something like what they have in Turkey." [38] In a posthumous (17 October 2018) article, "What the Arab world needs most is free expression", Khashoggi described the hopes of Arab world press freedom during the Arab Spring and his hope that an Arab world free press independent from national governments would develop so that "ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face." [39]

In the Post, he criticized the Saudi Arabian-led blockade against Qatar, [37] Saudi Arabia's dispute with Lebanon, [40] Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada, [41] and the Kingdom's crackdown on dissent and media. [42] Khashoggi supported some of Crown Prince's reforms, such as allowing women to drive, [43] but he condemned Saudi Arabia's arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul, who was ranked third 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. [37]

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." [44]

Appearing on Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV's programme Without Borders, Khashoggi stated that Saudi Arabia, to confront Iran, must re-embrace its proper religious identity as a Wahhabi Islamic revivalist state and build alliances with organisations rooted in political Islam such as the Muslim Brotherhood, and that it would be a "big mistake" if Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be friendly. [45]

Khashoggi criticized the Saudi war on Yemen, writing "The longer this cruel war lasts in Yemen, the more permanent the damage will be. The people of Yemen will be busy fighting poverty, cholera and water scarcity and rebuilding their country. The crown prince [Mohammed bin Salman] must bring an end to the violence," and "Saudi Arabia's crown prince must restore dignity to his country – by ending Yemen's cruel war." [46]

According to Khashoggi, Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri's forced resignation in a live television broadcast from Saudi Arabia on 4 November 2017 "could in part be due to the 'Trump effect,' particularly the U.S. president's strong bond with MBS. The two despise Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, a sentiment the Israelis share." [40]

Khashoggi wrote in August 2018 that "Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known by his initials, MBS, is signaling that any open opposition to Saudi domestic policies, even ones as egregious as the punitive arrests of reform-seeking Saudi women, is intolerable." [41] According to Khashoggi, "while MBS is right to free Saudi Arabia from ultra-conservative religious forces, he is wrong to advance a new radicalism that, while seemingly more liberal and appealing to the West, is just as intolerant of dissent." [47] Khashoggi also wrote that "MBS's rash actions are deepening tensions and undermining the security of the Gulf states and the region as a whole." [40]

Khashoggi criticized Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi's government in Egypt. According to Khashoggi, "Egypt has jailed 60,000 opposition members and is deserving of criticism as well." [41] Khashoggi wrote that despite U.S. President Barack Obama's "declared support for democracy and change in the Arab world in the wake of the Arab Spring, then President Barack Obama did not take a strong position and reject the coup against President-elect Mohamed Morsi. The coup, as we know, led to the military's return to power in the largest Arab country – along with tyranny, repression, corruption and mismanagement." [48] Morsi's government was removed from office in July 2013. [49]

Khashoggi was critical of Iran’s Shi'a sectarianism. He wrote in February 2016: "Iran looks at the region, particularly Syria, from a sectarian angle. The militias Tehran is relying on, some of which come from as far as Afghanistan, are sectarian. They raid Syrian villages with sectarian slogans, bringing to life conflicts from over a thousand years ago. With blood and sectarianism, Iran is redrawing the map of the region." [50]

Opinions on Khashoggi's views Edit

CNN described Khashoggi as a "journalist simply doing his job who evolved from an Islamist in his twenties to a more liberal position by the time he was in his forties," and that "by 2005, Khashoggi said he had also rejected the Islamist idea of creating an Islamic state and had turned against the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia. According to CNN he also had embraced the Enlightenment and American idea of the separation of church and state." [38] According to Egypt Today, Khashoggi revealed "yes, I joined the Muslim Brotherhood organization when I was at university and I was not alone. Some of the current ministers and deputies did but later every one of us developed their own political tendencies and views." [49] Politically, Khashoggi was supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood as an exercise in democracy in the Muslim world. In one of his own blogs he argued for the Muslim Brotherhood, and wrote that: "there can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it." [51] [48] The Irish Times journalist Lara Marlowe wrote that "If Christian democracy was possible in Europe, why could Arabs not be ruled by Muslim democracy, Jamal asked. That may explain his friendship with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan constituted the greatest hope of Muslim democracy, until he too turned into a despot." [52]

According to The Washington Post, while "Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts on the Middle East who have tracked his career." [53]

Donald Trump Jr. promoted the idea that Khashoggi was a "jihadist". [54] According to David Ignatius, Khashoggi was in his early 20s "a passionate member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The brotherhood was a secret underground fraternity that wanted to purge the Arab world of the corruption and autocratic rule it saw as a legacy of Western colonialism." [43] According to The New York Times, Khashoggi "balanced what appears to have been a private affinity for democracy and political Islam with his long service to the royal [Saudi] family", and that "His attraction to political Islam helped him forge a personal bond with President Erdogan of Turkey". It also states that "Several of his friends say that early on Mr. Khashoggi also joined the Muslim Brotherhood", and that "Although he later stopped attending meetings of the Brotherhood, he remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend". The newspaper also writes that "By the time he reached his 50s, Mr. Khashoggi's relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood was ambiguous. Several Muslim Brothers said this week that they always felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed it". [26]

According to Anthony Cordesman, the national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Khashoggi's "ties to the Muslim Brotherhood do not seem to have involved any links to extremism." [55] According to The Spectator, "Khashoggi and his fellow travellers believe in imposing Islamic rule by engaging in the democratic process", and that "In truth, Khashoggi never had much time for western-style pluralistic democracy", and that he "was a political Islamist until the end, recently praising the Muslim Brotherhood in The Washington Post", and that he "frequently sugarcoated his Islamist beliefs with constant references to freedom and democracy." [56] According to others, Khashoggi was critical of Salafism, the ultra-conservative Sunni movement, though "not as a French liberal, but as a moderate Muslim reformist". [57] [51] [43]

Relationship with Osama bin Laden Edit

Khashoggi was acquainted with Osama bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s in Afghanistan while bin Laden was championing his jihad against the Soviets. Khashoggi interviewed bin Laden several times, usually meeting bin Laden in Tora Bora, and once more in Sudan in 1995. [58] [59] According to The Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, "Khashoggi couldn't have traveled with the mujahideen that way without tacit support from Saudi intelligence, which was coordinating aid to the fighters as part of its cooperation with the CIA against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. . Khashoggi criticized Prince Salman, then governor of Riyadh and head of the Saudi committee for support to the Afghan mujahideen, for unwisely funding Salafist extremist groups that were undermining the war." [43]

Al Arabiya reported that Khashoggi once tried to persuade bin Laden to quit violence. [60] [43] In 1995 was sent to Khartoum by the Saudi government to convince bin Laden to abandon jihad, which Crown Prince Abdullah promised would be reciprocated with a restoration of bin Laden's Saudi citizenship and readmission into Saudi Arabia. During their first meeting bin Laden claimed to have moved on to peaceful agricultural and construction projects and repeatedly condemned the use of violence, but refused to allow Khashoggi to record his statements. During their second meeting bin Laden became more belligerent and called for a military campaign to drive the United States out of the Arabian Peninsula. On the third meeting bin Laden refused to publicly condemn the use of violence without Saudi concessions such as a full pardon or an American military withdrawal. [61]

Khashoggi said: "I was very much surprised [in 1997] to see Osama turning into radicalism the way he did." [38] Khashoggi was the only non-royal Saudi Arabian who knew of the royals' intimate dealing with al-Qaeda in the lead-up to the September 11 attacks. He dissociated himself from bin Laden following the attacks. [56]

Khashoggi wrote in response to 11 September attacks: "The most pressing issue now is to ensure that our children can never be influenced by extremist ideas like those 15 Saudis who were misled into hijacking four planes that fine September day, piloting them, and us, straight into the jaws of hell." [58]

The New York Times describes that after SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, Khashoggi mourned his old acquaintance and what he had become. He wrote on Twitter: "I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you Abu Abdullah", using bin Laden's nickname, and continued: "You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan, before you surrendered to hatred and passion." [26]


You Need To Watch ‘The Dissident,’ A Film About Slain Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi That Streamers Were Too Scared To Touch

A demonstrator holds a poster picturing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and a lightened candle . [+] during a gathering outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, on October 25, 2018.

Change just a few of the names in director Bryan Fogel’s new documentary The Dissident , and you’d have a gripping, edge-of-your-seat Hollywood blockbuster about Middle Eastern intrigue, a hero journalist, and unsavory geopolitics on your hands. The kind of big-screen moneymaker that more than one studio might have even clamored to make and distribute.

Plug in real names, though, and castigate modern-day Saudi Arabia for its connection to the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi , and — well, let’s just say that doing so helped The Dissident earn a cold shoulder from streamers like Netflix NFLX . Something that Fogel is convinced is a direct result of the film’s searing indictment of one of America’s most nettlesome allies.

The 2-hour documentary, which was released through video-on-demand channels like iTunes on Friday, also happens to be chock-a-block with the fodder of John le Carre’s most engrossing spy novels: Exotic locales, journalists and activists hunted by hit squads, government-funded Twitter trolls, ruling families and craven politicians who scramble and stop at nothing to silence dissent and keep the money spigots flowing. It’s all here, even a dose of President Trump for good measure, to ground the film in the unsettling chaos of the here-and-now. Nevertheless, the uphill climb for this movie to get seen is attributable to the fact that, even two years after the murder occurred, powerful interests are still trying to ensure that people forget about this story.

“What transpired out of Sundance was we had a film that received incredible acclaim, was met with standing ovations, Hillary Clinton was at our premier, wrote about it and spoke about it . and we found ourselves without a single offer for global distribution,” Fogel told Forbes in a phone interview a few days before the film’s VOD release. “Clearly, there is a fear and complicity among these media companies that continue to do business with the Saudis and are willing to participate in the silencing of this film through their inaction.”

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A relevant historical tidbit: Fogel’s last documentary film, Icarus , was picked up by Netflix and earned the streamer an Oscar — so you’d have thought they’d be all over the director’s next project, right?

“I think the Netflix of today is not the Netflix that distributed Icarus ,” Fogel continues. “They are a different company, focused on different goals, and subscriber goals international, I think, are key to that. Anything that’s going to rock the apple cart is coming up against a problem.”

None of them, not HBO , Amazon AMZN or any others, decided to touch Fogel’s film that methodically recounts Khashoggi’s death at the hands of a Saudi hit team inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul back in 2018. Because The Dissident also goes much deeper than that, with help from surveillance video and audio footage, to explore the rot at the heart of the Saudi monarchy — specifically, its all-consuming mania about dissent and outspoken critics. For daring to write in the pages of The Washington Post things like “ What the Arab world needs most is free expression ,” the most famous Saudi journalist in the world was ambushed, killed, and his body dismembered, presenting the world with a question that still has not been satisfactorily answered to this day: Are some deals with the devil acceptable, no matter the cost?

In the movie, there is a touching moment at the end, during a memorial in Istanbul to mark the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi ’s killing. Among the assembled guests is Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, then the richest man in the world and who also happens to be the owner of the paper that published Khashoggi’s writing in the US ( The Washington Post ).

Speaking to the crowd, Bezos turns to Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz and tells her that no one should have to endure what she’s gone through. And that she’s not alone. “You are in our heart.” Bezos even tweeted out a photo to mark the occasion of the gathering in the late journalist’s honor:

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia is seen during a meeting with President Donald . [+] Trump in the Oval Office at the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC.

When Bezos declined to intervene in the Post’s aggressive reportage in the wake of Khashoggi’s death, the documentary goes on to show how the Crown Prince sent a malware-laced WhatsApp message to Bezos, which hackers then used to access Bezos’ phone and discover that the Amazon chief was having an extramarital affair. Embarrassing photos from Bezos’ phone soon after found their way to the National Enquirer.

The Kingdom can reach anyone, the implied message of this frightening documentary seems to be, from the richest man in the world to a high-profile journalist. Yet, as Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul laments at one point in The Dissident, “Are we so blind to the malign influence of Saudi Arabia that we just give money and weapons to anybody, regardless of what they do? You can cut a dissident into pieces with a bone saw, and we'll still give you weapons?”

Fogel tells Forbes that he’d been looking for a new project like this after his last documentary. “For me, it was just really important that whatever that film was, that it was going to have something that would resonate. That would hopefully shine a light on an otherwise dark corner of the world. And I wanted to see to it that it was a story centered around human rights, freedom of speech, and journalism.

“As the story of Jamal’s disappearance and, ultimately, murder emerged in the first couple weeks that October, my ears perked up immediately. I was in Italy and it was on October 16 (2018) — on the day Saudi Arabia finally admitted Jamal had in fact died inside the consulate, and I had just spoken at the Rome film festival about Icarus. I literally said to myself at that moment, this was the next film I wanted to make. This was it.”

In a statement she emailed to Vanity Fair, Cengiz said that “it was a huge disappointment” to learn that no major streamer picked up the film. “I am sometimes really happy that Jamal never got to see this part of the aftermath. He would be really heartbroken.” Moreover, no actions of any major consequence have been taken in response to his killing. Congress went so far as passing legislation to block $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia — which President Trump then vetoed in 2019.

“They’re buying hundreds of billions of dollars worth of things from this country,” Trump says at one point in the film. “I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia.” At another point, Trump wonders out loud: “It sounded like these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”

Omar Abdulaziz knows. He’s an activist from Saudi Arabia living in exile in Canada, and he was one of Khashoggi’s closest friends. He started an online talkshow, “Say It And Walk Away,” which is a phrase that Khashoggi used to say — that you should be able to just say your truth, and walk away in freedom. Before the assassination, the two men had been working to create a kind of army of Internet users to push back against the Saudi’s government-funded army of trolls. “In Saudi Arabia,” Abdulaziz explains in The Dissident, “having an opinion is a crime. But Jamal’s death changed everything.”

When you stop and think about it, this is actually as good a time as any for the documentary to finally be released, on demand. The world may have moved on from Khashoggi’s murder — though that won’t be a permanent state of affairs, if Cengiz and others have anything to say about it — but what we’re living through now is more of the same forces that Khashoggi fought against. Autocratic leaders, governments that aren’t straight with their people, and impediments to the free flow of information (needed now more than ever, with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage). This was Jamal’s work, his legacy, and it continues today.


The Saudi General Taking the Fall in the Khashoggi Case

A Saudi official has said Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, a high-ranking adviser to the crown prince, organized the operation that killed the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A Saudi official says this is the man who organized the operation that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “The agreement that we have with our friends in Washington, that we will continue to work together for the stability of the region.” His name is Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri. He’s a top Saudi intelligence official and is close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “We are friends with all the countries, we never have dispute. And if we have one, we resolve it through the dialogue, through the international law.” The kingdom is said to have issued a general order to return dissidents who are living abroad. An official says that when the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul reported Khashoggi was coming in for an appointment, Assiri dispatched a team of 15 men to confront him. The official says the situation escalated, and Khashoggi was strangled to death in a chokehold. Assiri’s high-ranking position gave him easy access to the crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman himself promoted Assiri from his previous position as the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen. “We confirmed from Day One that we are working hard to avoid collateral damage.” The war in Yemen has killed thousands of civilians. But Assiri often appeared in Western media outlets fiercely defending his government’s conduct. “Are you violating the rules of war, international law?” “Let me, let me tell you something.” “You are conveying wrong information.” “No, let me, let me — do you doubt that picture?” “Where was it taken?” “I don’t care.” “You never be in Yemen. You never see. You don’t have any witnesses. And you tried to convey something wrong. And I try to correct this kind of picture.” In October, Saudi state media announced that General Assiri and other high-ranking officials had been dismissed. By pinning Khashoggi’s death on Assiri, the crown prince may be seeking to deflect blame from himself, even though American intelligence agencies are increasingly convinced he is behind Khashoggi’s death.

But Representative Adam Schiff of California was not buying the Saudi explanation. Mr. Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Friday night that “if Khashoggi was fighting inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he was fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him.”

Mr. Schiff, who said he had received a detailed, classified briefing earlier in the day on what American spy services believe were the circumstances, said that the Saudi version “was not credible.” He said he could not disclose what the intelligence agency briefers told him.

Since Mr. Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate on Oct. 2, Saudi Arabia has offered various, changing explanations for his disappearance, all of which seemed to distance top leadership from responsibility.

The Saudis initially claimed that Mr. Khashoggi had left the consulate alive and professed to be worried about his fate, later hinting that the killing might have been the act of rogue agents.

But international outrage mounted as Turkish officials leaked lurid details from their own investigation suggesting that he was murdered inside the consulate and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents who flew in specifically to kill him.

The case has battered the international reputation of the kingdom and the 33-year-old Prince Mohammed, who has sought to sell himself to the world as a young reformer shaking off his country’s conservative past. But suspicions that such a complicated foreign operation could not have been launched without at least his tacit approval have driven away many of his staunchest foreign supporters.

For the first time on Saturday, a Saudi official familiar with the government’s handling of the situation put forward the kingdom’s narrative of the events that led to Mr. Khashoggi’s death.

The kingdom had a general order to return dissidents living abroad, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. When the consulate in Istanbul reported that Mr. Khashoggi would be coming on Oct. 2 to pick up a document needed for his coming marriage, General Assiri dispatched a 15-man team to confront him.

The team included Maher Abdulaziz Mutrib, a security officer identified by The New York Times this week as a frequent member of the crown prince’s security detail during foreign trips, the official said. Mr. Mutrib had been chosen because he had worked with Mr. Khashoggi a decade ago in the Saudi Embassy in London and knew him personally.

But the order to return Mr. Khashoggi to the kingdom was misinterpreted as it made its way down the chain of command, the Saudi official said, and a confrontation ensued when Mr. Khashoggi saw the men. He tried to flee, the men stopped him, punches were thrown, Mr. Khashoggi screamed and one of the men put him in a chokehold, strangling him to death, the official said.

“The interaction in the room didn’t last very long at all,” the official said.

The team then gave the body to a local collaborator to dispose of, meaning that the Saudis do not know where it ended up, the official said.

All 15 members of the team had been identified by name by the Turks, and Turkish newspapers had published their photographs. The New York Times established that most of them were employed by the Saudi military or security services and that at least four had traveled with the crown prince as part of his security detail.

The Turks had said the body had been disassembled with a bone saw by an autopsy specialist flown in specifically for that purpose and probably carried out of the consulate in large suitcases.

Turkish investigators were searching a forest and a farmhouse this week for traces of Mr. Khashoggi’s remains but did not announce their findings.

The reports of Mr. Khashoggi’s killing have shaken members of the Saudi royal family, many of whom were angry about Crown Prince Mohammed’s swift rise over the past three years. Some wondered if the scandal could lead his father, King Salman, to replace him with another prince not tarnished by the case.


Culpability And Recalibration: MBS And The Killing Of Jamal Khashoggi

It was a brutal way to go, and it had the paw prints of the highest authorities. On October 2, 2018, Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian insider turned outsider, was murdered by a squad of 15 men from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was dismembered and quite literally cancelled in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

This state sanctioned killing was a vile, clumsy effort against a journalist and critic of a person who has come to be affectionately known in brown nosing circles as MBS, the ambitious, bratty Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Since then, every effort has been made on his part, and his followers, to repel suggestions of guilt or involvement.

It is worth remembering how the narratives were initially developed. First, the killing was denied as a libel against the kingdom. “Mr Khashoggi,” claimed an official statement from the Saudi authorities, “visited the consulate to request paperwork related to his marital status and exited shortly thereafter.” Then, his death was accepted, but deemed the result of a dreadful accident in which the men in question had overstepped. The death subsequently became the work of a blood thirsty gang of sadists who had acted on their own volition or, as US President Donald Trump called them, “rogue killers”.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir was a model of dissembling grace, telling news networks that it had all been a “tremendous mistake” which the Crown Prince was “not aware” of. “We don’t know, in terms of details, how. We don’t know where the body is.”

Statements of this nature run the risk of being totally implausible while also being revealing. It certainly showed a level of audacity. But in the exposure of the operation, the Saudi intelligence services also risked looking amateurish and startlingly incompetent. As a reward for their activities, 11 of the crew were tried by the Saudi government, eight of whom were convicted of murder. Their names have never been released.

Investigations into the murder are generally of the same view: the operation was authorised by the Crown Prince or certainly someone in the highest reaches of the Saudi government. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnès Callamard, thought as much. In June 2019, the rapporteur published a report finding that the execution “was the result of elaborate planning involving extensive coordination and significant human and financial resources. It was overseen, planned and endorsed by high-level officials. It was premeditated.”

The latest publication to stack the shelves of the Kingdom’s culpability comes in the form of a declassified US intelligence report submitted to Congress by the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines. The authors of the short document are clear about the lines of responsibility. “We assess,” goes the Executive Summary, “that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” This conclusion was arrived at given the role of the Crown Prince in “the decision making in the Kingdom”, the participation “of a key adviser” along with members of bin Salman’s protective detail, and his “support for using violent measures to silence dissidents abroad, including Khashoggi.”

Sombrely, the compilers of the report can only state the obvious. “Since 2017, the Crown Prince has had absolute control of the Kingdom’s security and intelligence organizations, making it highly unlikely that Saudi officials would have carried out an operation of this nature without the Crown Prince’s authorization.”

The details of the report corroborate other findings. The team sent to Istanbul had seven members of Muhammad bin Salman’s protective guard, the Rapid Intervention Force. It would have been hard to envisage the participation of these men in an operation without approval of the Crown Prince. Members of the squad also included those from the Saudi Centre for Studies and Media Affairs (CSMARC) based at the Royal Court.

The only note of slight uncertainty to come in the report is the state of mind Saudi officials were in terms of harming Khashoggi. It was clear that the Crown Prince saw the journalist “as a threat to the Kingdom and more broadly supported using violent measures if necessary to silence him.” What was less clear that “how far in advance Saudi officials decided to harm him.”

The neglected, and no less obscene aspect of the Khashoggi affair apart from his extrajudicial killing, is the business as usual approach taken by various powers towards Saudi Arabia. President Trump was merely the frankest of them all, not wishing to cloud lucrative weapons deals and the ongoing security relationship. “The United States,” he promised in a statement, “intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

The Biden administration prefers dissimulation and forced sincerity. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saw the need to “recalibrate” rather than “rupture” the relations between the two countries. “The [US] relationship with Saudi Arabia is bigger than any one individual.” It was sufficient for the US to illuminate the issue of Khashoggi’s killing. “I think this report speaks for itself.”

Just to show he has been busy recalibrating away, Blinken announced a visa restriction policy named after the slain Saudi – the Khashoggi Ban. Some 76 Saudi nationals have received bans for having “been engaged in threatening dissidents overseas, including but not limited to the Khashoggi killing.”

Ahead of the report’s release, President Joe Biden called his Saudi counterpart, King Salman, making much of human rights and the rule of law. But doing so did not mean holding the Crown Prince to account for his misdeeds. What mattered was “the longstanding partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia”. The Royals, to that end, can rest easy. There will be no substantial change in the arrangements between Washington and Riyadh, merely a heavy layering of cosmetics. That’s recalibration for you.


Seven Facts About Jamal Khashoggi’s Life, Writing, and Politics

198 AFP/Getty Images

Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi became a figure of global importance when he disappeared on October 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, leading to allegations that agents from Saudi Arabia lured him to the consulate so they could murder him.

Khashoggi has a long career as both a writer and political activist, but accounts of his disappearance usually refer to him as simply a “journalist.” Following are some details of his background:

Khashoggi was a Saudi national and lawful permanent resident of the U.S.: He was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia, 59 years ago and was educated in Saudi Arabia before traveling to the United States and earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana State University.

According to an article his Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz wrote for the Washington Post a week after his disappearance, he recently spent a year in “self-imposed exile in the United States” and planned to divide his time between Washington and Istanbul while he worked on his career as a writer. Cengiz said Khashoggi had applied for full U.S. citizenship. At the time of his disappearance, he was a lawful permanent resident of the United States — in more common parlance, he had a “green card.”

He had some famous relatives and big connections in the Saudi elite: Jamal Khashoggi’s uncle was Adnan Khashoggi, the arms dealer of Iran-Contra fame, who died in 2017 at the age of 81. Adnan Khashoggi was, at one point, the personal physician to the first monarch of the modern Saudi line, King Ibn Saud. At the height of his fame, he was widely but incorrectly hailed as the “richest man in the world.”

Jamal Khashoggi’s cousin Dodi al-Fayed became posthumously famous as the boyfriend of England’s Princess Diana, dying along with her in a car crash in 1997.

Khashoggi was at one time a supporter of the Saudi royal family. According to the UK Independent , last year he looked up a Saudi expatriate who had been his anti-regime sparring partner on numerous talking-head shows and said he was wrong to have defended the monarchy for so long.

In his younger days , Khashoggi traveled with then-King Abdullah, befriended billionaire investment mogul Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and worked as an adviser for Prince Turki al-Faisal, who served as head of Saudi intelligence and ambassador to the United States and the United Kingdom. Prince Alwaleed was among the highest-profile Saudi royals detained in a hotel during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on corruption and/or consolidation of power in early 2018.

He had long experience in media: Khashoggi wrote for numerous publications in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, including the Saudi Gazette. He held some of these positions while largely supportive of the government in Riyadh and others after he became critical of the leadership.

In 2003, he became editor of a reform-minded Saudi paper called Al Watan, which fired him only two months later because he published articles and cartoons critical of senior clerics, who complained to the Interior Ministry that he was undermining their authority. He returned to Al Watan in 2007 and served as editor for three years, and he resigned after publishing an opinion piece critical of fundamentalist Salafi Islam.

In 2015, after five years of planning with Prince Alwaleed, Khashoggi launched the independent Al-Arab News Channel from Bahrain. It lasted less than 24 hours before the Bahraini monarchy shut it down supposedly because the network violated Gulf Cooperation Council media guidelines by airing an interview with an opposition leader. The Al-Arab News Channel eventually resumed operations but was shut down permanently in early 2017.

Khashoggi has been a regular contributor to the Global Opinions section of the Washington Post since 2017.

He interviewed and traveled with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan: The interview that made Khashoggi’s career was with Osama bin Laden, who personally invited the young journalist to cover resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The nature of Khashoggi’s relationship with bin Laden is one of the most hotly debated aspects of his complex past. Khashoggi’s admirers say he was simply covering an important leader in a resistance movement against Soviet imperialism that was, after all, supported by the United States, and he was disgusted with bin Laden for mutating the successful mujahideen resistance against the Russians into the worldwide horror of al-Qaeda.

Khashoggi is said to have pleaded with bin Laden to turn away from terrorism in the 1990s and, in 2002, described the 9/11 atrocity as an attack on “the values of tolerance and coexistence that Islam preaches,” as well as an attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

“I collapsed crying a while ago, heartbroken for you,” he wrote to the spirit of Osama bin Laden after the latter was killed in 2011 by U.S. special forces. “You were beautiful and brave in those beautiful days in Afghanistan before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”

Khashoggi’s critics see him as either star-struck by the mystique of the Afghan resistance fighters or much too comfortable with the Islamist goals of al-Qaeda, breaking with bin Laden primarily because he thought the terrorist leader’s approach was too aggressive. Khashoggi did not fly out to Afghanistan for a quick interview with bin Laden he spent a great deal of time with the founders of al-Qaeda and could not plausibly have been blind to their emerging ideology.

He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supports Hamas: A great deal of the increasingly partisan argument in the U.S. over Khashoggi’s past boils down to how much credit to give him for apparently changing his mind about people like Osama bin Laden and organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood.

He unquestionably saw himself as a member of the Brotherhood in his youth it was one of the reasons he secured the bin Laden interview. The friendly interpretation of his history is that he and the Muslim Brotherhood both changed over time.

Although left-wingers are treating mentions of Khashoggi’s past with the Brotherhood as a “smear” or “hate crime,” Khashoggi himself wrote in defense of the organization only a few months ago. He said the U.S. has an unhealthy and irrational “aversion” to the Muslim Brotherhood, which he portrayed as the true force of democracy in the Arab world and the only antidote to “authoritarian and corrupt regimes.”

Khashoggi castigated the United States for accepting the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in Egypt and strongly supported “political Islam,” which he saw the Brotherhood as embodying. In his view, authoritarian regimes desperate to stifle democracy prodded American policymakers into opposing the Muslim Brotherhood, allowing them to retain their power and keep corrupt income streams flowing.

“There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed,” he wrote.

In recent years, Khashoggi has allegedly supported the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, presenting its cause as a battle against sinister Israel that all Arabs are obliged to support.

The New York Times admitted in a largely admiring October 14 profile that Khashoggi’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood at the time of his disappearance was “ambiguous.” The overall tenor of the profile was that support for “political Islam” is not inherently unreasonable and Khashoggi spent the latter decades of his life making a strong effort to avoid extremism. The term almost invariably used to describe his beliefs by those favorably disposed to him is “complicated.”

To simplify them somewhat, he believed in Islamic political supremacy and thought only a properly managed religious government could be honest, but he appeared aware his preferred political model could easily slip into the hands of extremists. He was inclined to support the legitimacy of governments that allowed democratic representation, even if their duly-enacted policies were repressive by Western standards, and challenge the legitimacy of those which did not — a comparison most clear in his writings about Egypt and his native Saudi Arabia.

He was an implacable critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS): Khashoggi’s last few years were dominated by his antipathy to the government of Saudi Arabia after Mohammed bin Salman was elevated to Crown Prince.

His work with Prince Turki al-Faisal and closeness to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal aligned him with a faction of the royal family he saw as moderates. They lost power and influence with Crown Prince Mohammed’s rise.

Among other complaints, he saw the already tenuous freedom of the press in Saudi Arabia disintegrating almost completely when MBS took power and left Saudi Arabia in 2017 for his safety. “I was under the risk of either being banned from travel, which would be suffocating, or being physically arrested, just like many of my colleagues,” he told the Colombia Journalism Review in March.

Khashoggi saw MBS as paranoid, obsessed with eliminating all challenges to his power, and more authoritarian than imposing an ambitious reform agenda on traditionalist Saudi Arabia could possibly require. As he noted to the Colombia Journalism Review, he was a longtime supporter of many of the reforms MBS implemented and had been fired on more than one occasion for advocating them.

Khashoggi was especially critical of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen and the strange treatment of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was effectively summoned to Saudi Arabia, imprisoned, and forced to resign, precipitating a regional political crisis. Khashoggi was highly skeptical of the Trump administration’s embrace of the crown prince and has said he was “ordered silent” by the Saudi monarchy after criticizing President-Elect Donald Trump shortly after the 2016 election.

He was politically active: Some of the objections to classifying Khashoggi as simply a “journalist” concern his ongoing political activism. The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said last week that Khashoggi retained many active contacts in the Kingdom and was still in regular contact with him personally. Prince Khalid returned to Saudi Arabia shortly after those remarks and evidently will not return to his post in Washington.

At the time of his disappearance, Khashoggi was working on launching a non-governmental organization called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). The Daily Beast described this group’s charter as an expression of Khashoggi’s Islamist philosophy, offering “a counter-narrative in the Arab world and the West to Arab Spring skeptics” and endorsing free elections even if they “result in some governments that are less favorable to U.S. interests.”

The Washington Post was said to be aware Khashoggi was raising funds for this group and intended to serve as its leader and was confident he would be fully “transparent with readers about these efforts as they progressed.”

Former Wall Street Journal publisher Karen Elliott House speculated DAWN was the reason Saudi agents may have taken action against Khashoggi, perceiving the organization as “funded by Saudi regional rivals” and essentially pushing a Muslim Brotherhood vision of the Arab Spring inimical to the Saudi government.

“Democracy is currently being slaughtered everywhere. He wanted to alert Western public opinion to the dangers of remaining silent in the face of the assassination of democracy. The Muslim Brothers and Islamists were the biggest victims of the foiled Arab spring,” Khashoggi’s friend Azzam Tamimi told the Associated Press last week.

Tamimi said he and Khashoggi created a similar organization in 1992 called Friends of Democracy in Algeria, intended to push back against the government of that country after it nullified an “imminent Islamist victory” in an election.

The Associated Press forgot to mention that the thwarted Islamists in that election went on a massive killing spree that left the streets filled with bloody corpses. The goal of the Islamic Salvation Front was to turn Algeria into a fundamentalist Islamic republic. Its descendant organization, the Islamic Salvation Army, is allied with al-Qaeda in Syria.

Conclusion: The problem with taking the full measure of Jamal Khashoggi’s writing and political careers is that everything in the Middle East is “complicated.” Idealistic organizations are often linked to brutal extremist groups and aspiring fundamentalist tyrants, with the strength of those links hotly debated by observers within and beyond the region.

The dimmest view of Khashoggi’s history is that he was a public-relations man for the Muslim Brotherhood and perhaps even al-Qaeda the brightest view is that he truly believed democracy was more important than almost anything else to Arab nations, the necessary precursor to all other benevolent reforms, and stable democracy in the Middle East is impossible without making room for political Islam.

Khashoggi’s view of the Arab Spring and his plans for a political organization are the mirror image of the theory that authoritarian means, as practiced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, must be employed to impose liberal reforms on Islamist countries in order to create the cultural conditions necessary for democracy to flourish. If Khashoggi has been murdered, his death will be the latest bloody milestone in an ideological battle that is far from over.


Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi agents at the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in 2018, a gruesome killing that shocked the world and strained Riyadh's relations with key ally Washington.

Here is a timeline of the affair:

Never leaves consulate

The Washington Post columnist, who was critical of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, fled the kingdom in 2017 to take refuge in the United States.

He is recorded on a camera entering the Istanbul consulate on October 2, 2018, to get a document for his marriage while his fiancee Hatice Cengiz waits outside.

As anxiety mounts over his fate, the crown prince declares on October 5 that Khashoggi is not in the consulate, saying: "We have nothing to hide."

A source close to the Turkish government says the next day that police believe he was murdered inside by a team sent to Istanbul specifically to kill him, and that the team left the same day.

Riyadh calls the claim "baseless".

Likely dismembered

On October 7, The Washington Post cites a US official as saying Khashoggi's body "was likely dismembered, removed in boxes and flown out of the country".

The New York Times says Turkey identified a suspect in the affair as being from Prince Mohammed's inner circle.

Three others are linked to his security team.

Riyadh admits murder

On October 20, Riyadh finally admits Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate, claiming this was after a "brawl".

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir tells Fox News on October 21 there had been a "tremendous mistake" and those responsible acted "outside the scope of their authority".

Two days later, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Khashoggi's "savage" murder was carried out by a 15-person team from Riyadh.

Painful

The crown prince -- known widely by his initials, MBS -- on October 24 describes the affair as "very painful for all Saudis" and "a repulsive incident".

Erdogan says in early November that the order for the murder came from "the highest levels" of the Saudi government, while ruling out King Salman.

Washington announces sanctions on November 15 against 17 Saudis allegedly involved. Germany, France and Canada follow suit.

Prince accused

The Washington Post on November 16 quotes anonymous sources as saying the CIA had concluded the crown prince was involved in the murder plot.

But President Donald Trump, who enjoys close relations with MBS, says the CIA has "nothing definitive".

Republican senators in early December say after a CIA briefing that they firmly believe the crown prince was complicit.

The Senate adopts a resolution holding him responsible on December 13.

Credible evidence

Independent UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard says in June 2019 there is "credible evidence" linking MBS to the killing and calls for an international criminal investigation.

Riyadh rejects her comments as baseless, while Trump says no one "pointed the finger" at MBS.

In December a Saudi court condemns five unnamed people to death for the killing.

Trial in Turkey

An Istanbul court in early July 2020 puts 20 Saudis on trial in absentia, including two who are close to the crown prince.

Among the accused are two identified by the Turkish investigators as commanders of the operation: Ahmed al-Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani.

Death sentences overturned

On September 7, a Saudi court overturns the five death sentences handed down nine months previously for the murder, jailing eight unidentified people for terms ranging from seven to 20 years.

Khashoggi's fiancee brands the ruling a "farce".

On the second anniversary of the killing, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders say the trial was a "parody of justice" and call for an international probe.

US intelligence report

New US President Joe Biden announces Wednesday that an American intelligence report on the murder would be released soon, telling reporters he had already seen it.

The next day, Biden holds a long-delayed first post-inauguration phone call with Saudi Arabia's King Salman, in which he reaffirms the US's commitment to the kingdom's defense but stresses the importance of human rights.

The partially redacted, two-year-old report is released on Friday. In it, US intelligence concludes the prince "approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi".


Most journalists and activists working under repressive regimes know, at least ambiently, that their governments are trying to watch their every move.

Less widely known, perhaps, is that governments can buy software, on the commercial market, to hack phones and record everything on them. Rarer still is to catch a hack in action. But that's exactly what a computer scientist named Bill Marczak did in the summer of 2018.

One afternoon in July, Marczak, a postdoc at the University of California at Berkeley, was sitting at home on his couch, staring at his laptop. He had acquired an unusual hobby: tracking cellphone spyware installed by repressive regimes around the world.

Marczak's interest in government hacking and surveillance was sparked in 2012 by the events of the Arab Spring. Then a Ph.D. student in computer science, he had cofounded an organization to provide online assistance to activists in Bahrain, where he'd spent part of his youth, and to do research on repression in the region.

Soon, the Bahraini activists told him about another issue: They'd been receiving a fusillade of suspicious-looking emails.

When Marczak analyzed the messages, he discovered that they were created to plant spyware on the activists' devices, allowing someone — possibly the government — to quietly monitor them. Working with a Canadian organization called Citizen Lab, Marczak publicized the attempted hacking.

Soon, Marczak was receiving similar requests from activists and dissidents in all corners of the world. He built a complex methodology to discover whether mobile phones had been compromised. If they were, Marczak and his team would warn the dissidents, analyze the software, and publish their findings.

The most sophisticated of all the spyware they uncovered was something called Pegasus, produced by NSO Group, a highly secretive Israeli company. Pegasus allowed its users to create and send a single link that, if clicked, would give them total visibility into a target's phone. Calls, emails, texts — everything. The software could capture encrypted messages before they were sent, and turn on the phone's camera and microphone to surreptitiously record anything in the vicinity.

Pegasus, in other words, was nothing less than the ultimate surveillance tool. In the hands of NSO's clients, which Citizen Lab discovered included governments like Mexico and the UAE, it could be invaluable.

Sitting on his couch that afternoon, Marczak paged through data he had collected that indicated where Pegasus had been in operation. Whenever a dissident forwarded it a suspicious link, Citizen Lab used data from the link to scan the internet for servers controlled by the Pegasus software, and then collected all those Pegasus connection points in a database. Now, they were doing the reverse: starting with the Pegasus servers and searching for devices trying to connect to them. Marczak, in other words, was attempting to determine whether they could proactively identify compromised devices in action.

That's when he noticed something odd. Typically, he would have expected to find phones making those connections inside Saudi Arabia, where the government would likely be monitoring its citizens. Instead, the data showed a single phone in Canada repeatedly connecting with servers that Citizen Lab had observed appeared to be under the control of an operator connected to the Saudi government.

Pegasus, he realized, had compromised someone in Montreal, seemingly on behalf of the Saudis. Everything they were saying and doing could apparently be vacuumed up by these servers with the help of NSO, in real time.

"Hey, I think I found something interesting," Marczak messaged the director of Citizen Lab. The Montreal phone's connections formed a pattern. By day, they were connecting to Pegasus from a residential internet service provider. By night, the connections came from a university network.

With the help of some of his old Bahraini activist friends, Marczak gathered six names of Saudi dissidents living in Canada who seemed to fit the pattern. To narrow the list, he would have to talk to people on the ground.

That August, Marczak flew to Montreal to meet with dissidents and activists who were, understandably, suspicious of his intentions. When he reached Abdulaziz, the 27-year-old Saudi insisted they meet in a public place. One afternoon at a coffee shop, Marczak sat across from him and tried to explain the pattern of connections that had led him to Abdulaziz. Sure, that could be him, Abdulaziz replied, agreeing to let Marczak look through his phone.

Marczak opened the messaging app and searched for a link from sunday-deals.com, a website commonly used by Pegasus. And there it was, in a June message purporting to be from the shipper DHL, telling Abdulaziz he could use the link to monitor a pending shipment.

Had Abdulaziz clicked it? Sure, he said. He'd ordered a batch of protein powder that morning through Amazon and assumed the message was connected.

"You mean it's not legitimate?" Abdulaziz said.

"It's not legitimate," Marczak said.

Marczak switched the phone to airplane mode and connected it to the internet through his laptop. He hoped to use his own software to catch the spyware in operation. But it was too late: Whoever had installed Pegasus had already disabled and removed it, leaving no trace besides the phantom text message. Perhaps they'd done it precisely because of this meeting, Marczak wondered.

In the moment, Abdulaziz seemed surprised but not shocked that every communication on his phone for the past two months had been monitored. But if Marczak was right, it meant the Saudis had seen his exchanges with Khashoggi about MBS's government, about their plans, and about the cyber bees.

Within weeks of Marczak's alerting him to the hack in August, Abdulaziz's two younger brothers back in Saudi Arabia were arrested, along with eight of his friends. Abdulaziz viewed it as the government's attempt to extort him into coming back home and perhaps making good on the agent's promise. If they couldn't jail him, they'd find the next closest thing.

Abdulaziz remained defiant. "My activism will not stop," he told a reporter. "I do not accept blackmail."

When Abdulaziz informed Khashoggi of the hack shortly after he heard about it from Marczak, the journalist laughed nervously, wondering aloud if he too might be under surveillance. Then on October 1, 2018, Marczak and his colleagues at Citizen Lab released a report about the Abdulaziz hacking. There was no evidence that Khashoggi had read it when he walked into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul at 1 p.m. the following day.

Later, in portions of the audio surveillance dribbled out by Turkish intelligence to local reporters and heard by the UN investigators, the grotesque snippets from what followed would come to shock the world. While the various translations of the dialogue sometimes conflicted, there was enough overlap to piece together a coherent firsthand account of a murder and a cover-up.

As Khashoggi and Cengiz walked up to the barriers outside the consulate at 1 p.m., Mutreb and Tubaigy, the doctor, were inside, making last-minute calibrations.

"We will first tell him that we are taking him to Riyadh," Mutreb can be heard saying on the tapes. "If he fails to comply, we will kill him here and get rid of the body . [Will it] be possible to put the trunk in a bag?"

"No. Too heavy," Tubaigy replies. He calmly lays out the steps they will take to deal with the corpse. "I have never worked on a warm body before, but I will take care of it easily. When I cut cadavers, I usually put on my headphones and listen to music. At the same time, I drink coffee and smoke.

"It is easy to take apart joints," he continues, "but it will take time to chop it into pieces. It is not a problem. The body is heavy. Usually, one hangs the animal on a hook after butchering them to tear them into pieces. I have never done that on the ground. When I'm done chopping up, you will wrap the pieces into plastic bags, place them in suitcases, and take them out."

If Tubaigy had any concerns, they were not humane, but bureaucratic. "My direct manager is not aware of what I am doing," he complains to Mutreb. "There is nobody to protect me." But there was no point worrying about it now. It was almost time to begin.

"Has the sacrificial animal arrived?" Mutreb says.

Moments later, at 1:14 p.m., Khashoggi acknowledged a nod from the guard in the powder-blue blazer and walked in the consulate's bronze double doors.

Inside, he was ushered up to the second-floor office of the consul general. Awaiting him was what would have surely seemed a baffling collection of people. But the mystery resolved as soon as Khashoggi learned that al-Qahtani, the man who had tried to persuade him to return — the man who had overseen the brutal operations at the Ritz — was patched into the room via Skype.

Accounts from those who heard the tapes would differ slightly, but according to Turkish reporters, Mutreb and al-Qahtani seemed to enact a muddled good-cop-bad-cop routine. Al-Qahtani insulted Khashoggi, berating him for his betrayals. Mutreb at first took a softer tack. His sins against the government would be forgiven if he came home, he told the journalist.

Khashoggi said he hoped to return, someday.

"We will have to take you back," Mutreb responded. He told Khashoggi that there was an Interpol notice — a kind of international arrest warrant — against him.

"There isn't a case against me," Khashoggi said. Sensing the danger, he tried to bluff his way out. He claimed that people were waiting outside for him — a car and driver, he said, plus his fiancée. "I am not going to Riyadh."

It didn't matter, he was told. Let's make this quick, an official said. They asked Khashoggi what phones he used. They would need him to send a message to his son, in Saudi Arabia, explaining that he was in Istanbul. "Do not worry if you cannot get through to me for a while," they instructed him to write.

"What should I say, 'See you soon'?" Khashoggi asked. "I can't say 'kidnapping.'"

In response, an official told him to take off his jacket.

"How can this happen in an embassy?" Khashoggi said.

"Help us so that we can help you," Mutreb said, "because at the end we will take you back to Saudi Arabia. And if you don't help us, you know what will happen at the end. Let this issue find a good end."

"There is a towel there. Are you going to give me drugs?" Khashoggi asked. He still sounded calm.

"We will anesthetize you," came the response.

Then Mutreb gave the order.

Five agents converged on Khashoggi. He struggled, and amid the chaos one agent could be heard saying, "Keep pushing. Push here. Don't remove your hand."

"Let go of my mouth," Khashoggi said. "I have asthma. Stop, you're choking me."

Turkish surveillance then captured what sounded to some like a plastic bag being placed over Khashoggi's head. It was followed by only muffled sounds of struggle. Then nothing.

Mutreb pulled out his phone and made a call. "Tell your boss," he said into the receiver. "The deed was done."

The remainder of the kill team's plan proceeded with a grotesque efficiency. One agent removed Khashoggi's clothes and handed them to al-Madani, the lookalike. Another pulled out sheets of plastic.

Tubaigy then picked up the bone saw he'd brought from Riyadh.

Two hours later, the boxy van in the consulate's covered driveway pulled out. It carried Mutreb, Tubaigy, and, in all likelihood, Khashoggi's dismembered body. They drove the short distance to the consul general's home. In the driveway, three men unloaded three trash bags and a rolling suitcase.

Back at the consulate, al-Madani left through a back door, avoiding Hatice Cengiz at the barrier out front. He was dressed in Khashoggi's clothes, save for a pair of sneakers in place of the journalist's black derby shoes. Accompanied by another agent wearing jeans and a hoodie and carrying a white plastic bag, he jumped into a taxi and asked to be driven to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul's historic old center.

Somewhere inside the mosque, al-Madani changed again, back into his own clothes. The agents ditched the white bag and hopped another taxi to a Metro station. If anyone checked the CCTV footage around Istanbul later, presumably they would see that Khashoggi had left the consulate and gone sightseeing.

Just before 5 p.m., Mutreb, Tubaigy, and another agent left the consul general's residence. There was no sign of the trash bags or suitcase they'd brought inside.

By then, a pair of private jets were en route from Riyadh. Mutreb and five others caught the first one — a Sky Prime Aviation plane, tail number HZ-SK1 — out of Istanbul at 6:30 p.m. The plane flew overnight to Cairo and then departed for Saudi Arabia the next evening. Seven others left on Sky Prime HZ-SK2 just before 10 p.m. The last two members of the kill team departed on a commercial flight direct to Riyadh at 1:30 the following morning.

It had been 12 hours since they'd assassinated Khashoggi.

By the evening of October 2, Turkish intelligence was already reviewing seven hours of audio surveillance it had captured from inside the consulate. Since the recordings hadn't been monitored in real time, at first the intelligence agents had trouble discerning Khashoggi's fate. Perhaps, they concluded, he had been drugged and transported out of the consulate in a box, still alive.

The Saudi cover-up, meanwhile, had already begun. The morning of October 3, the staff of the consulate was told to avoid the second floor, which was cleaned around 11 a.m. That evening, cameras captured a fire in a barrel outside the consul general's home.

On October 5, a consular official drove the boxy van that had been seen pulling into and out of the consulate to a car wash. The following day, Saudi officials invited reporters from Reuters into the consulate with a camera. They wanted to show that they had nothing to hide, that they remained as baffled as anyone about Khashoggi's disappearance.

"The citizen Jamal isn't in the consulate or in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the Saudi consul said, on camera. That much, at least, was true. The lie came next. "The consulate and the embassy are doing their best to look for him. We're concerned about the case," he said, his eyes darting from side to side. Yes, the consulate had security cameras installed at all its entrances, he said in response to a journalist's question. Somehow, they just hadn't recorded footage that day.

The Saudi ambassador to the US followed up with a statement: Any reports "that the Kingdom's authorities have detained him or killed him are absolutely false, and baseless."

But the plotters could already see the ruse was dissolving.

On October 10, a new team began arriving from Riyadh. It included members of the Saudi genetics-testing and criminal-evidence departments and appeared to be tasked with carrying out a more professional level of cleanup. By the following day, the team consisted of 11 members, including a chemist and a toxicology expert. For three days, they worked nearly round the clock inside the consulate.

Even as the Saudis continued to maintain that Khashoggi was merely missing, the Turkish authorities concluded from a closer examination of the surveillance that he'd been killed, his body likely transported to the consul general's home. The Turkish press, fed evidence from the National Intelligence Organization, began publishing photos, videos, and dossiers on the 15 members of the kill team — arriving at the airport, checking into their hotels, entering and exiting the consulate.

The Saudi-owned satellite news channel Al Arabiya reported instead that the 15 Saudi suspects were merely tourists. Khashoggi hadn't been killed, and reports to the contrary were "fake news," they asserted.

On October 15, Turkish authorities were finally granted access to the consulate. The investigators found little of interest. The rooms had been so thoroughly cleaned, they told local reporters, that they failed to detect even the trace levels of DNA typical for an office.

At the consul's residence, Saudi officials shadowed their every move, suddenly declaring certain areas off-limits. As at the consulate, the CCTV cameras had mysteriously failed to record anything on October 2, they said. Noticing a well on the property, the Turkish investigators asked permission to inspect it. The request was denied.

Agnès Callamard, a French-born human-rights expert who ran the Global Freedom of Expression Project at Columbia University, followed the Khashoggi saga from New York, increasingly concerned. She'd spent years documenting state-sponsored killings in her capacity as the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions — a kind of roving, independent investigator into unlawful death. She would know what a cover-up might look like.

On October 15, she and a colleague penned an op-ed article for The Washington Post, calling for an independent investigation sponsored by the UN Security Council. "Khashoggi's disappearance must lead to accountability and consequences," they wrote.

Nothing happened. "There was a mood internationally to brush it off," Callamard told me later, "and move on with business as usual."

By that point, the Saudi government had been maneuvering to establish another narrative. In a phone call on October 9 with Jared Kushner and John Bolton, then the US national security adviser, MBS explained that Khashoggi was a "dangerous Islamist" and a known member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Publicly, the Saudi government was still claiming that Khashoggi might be alive. Privately, the crown prince was already justifying his killing.

MBS had been investing in his relationship with the Trump administration since the moment Trump took office. After feeling shunted by an Obama administration determined to make a nuclear deal with Iran, the king and the crown prince saw common cause with an American president eager to repudiate his predecessor's signature accomplishment. They found an easy familiarity, too, with a leader willing to keep power within his own family, as Trump had done with Ivanka and Jared. Oil, arms sales, mutual dislike of Iran, and counterterrorism had long formed the four pillars of the US-Saudi relationship. To those could be added a fifth, more personal one. Having a president's son-in-law in his pocket, as MBS reportedly said, was about to pay its dividends.

So it appeared less than coincidental that it was Trump who first publicly floated the "rogue killers" theory — that the 15-man team had been sent to bring Khashoggi back and, against orders, ended up killing him. That became the story the Saudi government pivoted to on October 19, after the forced admission of the murder undid its first set of denials. The Saudis' chief prosecutor appeared on state television to report that in fact the journalist had been killed. A fistfight had broken out in the consulate, he falsely claimed, and Khashoggi had, unfortunately, lost his life.

The next day, a Saudi spokesperson told Reuters that the government had detained 18 suspects in connection with the killing, including the 15 named by the Turkish authorities as part of the kill team. (Whether they'd done so while "on vacation," as the Saudis had claimed, was left unaddressed.) Still, the Saudi government persisted in its claims that the murder had been, as one official called it, a "huge mistake."

It took less than a week for the story to change: On October 25, the Saudi government admitted that the killing was premeditated but maintained it had no idea where Khashoggi's body was. It also claimed that some members of the state's security apparatus, including al-Qahtani, had lost their jobs. But the 18 suspects originally arrested soon dwindled to 11 who were criminally charged in connection with the murder. That included Mutreb and Tubaigy, along with nine security agents. Not among the accused was al-Qahtani — and, of course, MBS himself.

Experienced Saudi-watchers found it impossible that such an elaborate operation could take place under the crown prince's nose, given his control over the state security apparatus. By November 16, both The Washington Post and The New York Times were reporting, via anonymous sources, that the CIA had concluded the same: MBS was not only aware of the killing — he'd ordered it. Among the other evidence leaked from a report to The Wall Street Journal was that MBS and al-Qahtani had exchanged 11 texts during the timeframe of the murder.

As public indignation around the Saudi government's possible role in the murder grew, even the Trump administration seemed forced to at least gesture at concerns about the relationship. The Trump administration announced sanctions on 17 Saudis, including al-Qahtani, who the Treasury Department announcement said "was part of the planning and execution of the operation that led to the killing of Mr. Khashoggi."

The Times reported that in private, even Trump rolled his eyes when aides asked whether MBS could have been ignorant of the operation. Publicly, however, he stood by his son-in-law's pal. On November 20, the president issued a bizarre statement reaffirming his faith in the Saudi regime and MBS. "The world is a very dangerous place!" the release began. After several paragraphs trumpeting the dangers of Iran and a celebrating a vague Saudi pledge to invest $450 billion into the US, the statement turned to Khashoggi's murder, calling it a "terrible" crime, "and one that our country does not condone." It revived MBS's evidence-free claim to Kushner and Bolton that the Saudis considered Khashoggi an "enemy of the state" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"It could very well be that the Crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Trump continued. "That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi."

By January, Callamard, the UN special rapporteur, realized that Trump was likely to be proved right about the unknowable facts by default. The world was not going to mobilize around an independent investigation. The Security Council hadn't so much as proposed one.

So she decided to launch it herself. "At a gut level I thought, 'That cannot be the end of the story,'" she said.

Most of her work had involved large-scale killings by armed groups. But Khashoggi's death fell within her mandate "to examine situations of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in all circumstances," according to the resolution that created it. Her position by nature required no UN approval for any particular investigation. "It was a bit daunting," she said. "I was on my own, looking at the most spoken-of killing, a major news item, a major international-relations hot potato." She organized a team of lawyers and translators and arranged her first trip to Turkey.

After weeks of negotiation, Turkish intelligence allowed Callamard to listen to — but not copy or authenticate — portions of the surveillance tapes, together with a translator. She then crisscrossed Europe and North America, interviewing Hatice Cengiz and Khashoggi's friends and colleagues, including Omar Abdulaziz. In December, Abdulaziz had filed a lawsuit against NSO Group, the maker of Pegasus, alleging that the information obtained in the hacking of his phone was a "crucial factor" in the decision to execute Khashoggi.

The suit remains pending. In a statement to Business Insider on Tuesday, the NSO Group declined to comment specifically on the Abdulaziz matter but said that a review of "every government NSO does business with" showed that Khashoggi himself "was not targeted by any NSO product or technology." As for Abdulaziz, NSO Group had told The New York Times that its software was "licensed for the sole use of providing governments and law enforcement agencies the ability to lawfully fight terrorism and crime" and that its contracts were "only provided after a full vetting and licensing by the Israeli government."

The Saudis refused to acknowledge Callamard's investigation at all, ignoring her requests. The Washington Post reported that the government had offered Khashoggi's children houses and monthly payments as compensation for the killing. (Khashoggi's son denied that any settlement had been reached.) The kingdom did open its doors to several prominent Instagram influencers, to whom it offered paid tours to see the positive side of the country. "It's not propaganda," the prince in charge of the effort told Bloomberg. "It's simply a human engagement exercise."

Many of the tech executives and venture capitalists who'd fêted MBS the reformer in Silicon Valley remained publicly unwilling to engage. If a VC on Sand Hill Road was alleged to have ordered a brutal murder, one would have expected their co-investors and investees to distance themselves at the least — even wash their hands of the blood money entirely. When the accused orchestrator sat in a palace in Riyadh and held the strings to even greater billions, the strategy seemed to be utter silence.

Some, like Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, decided to skip a late-October economic conference hosted by MBS in Riyadh nicknamed "Davos in the Desert." Others chose to quietly remove themselves from Saudi projects, as executives at Apple and the design firm Ideo did, exiting an advisory board of Neom, a "mega-city" project in Saudi Arabia.

Otherwise, none of the budding tech moguls who'd supercharged their growth curve off the Saudis' billions seemed willing to touch the Khashoggi matter — even after the facts were known. (Business Insider contacted a dozen tech startups that received significant investment directly or indirectly from Saudi Arabia the few that responded wouldn't comment on the record.) The only company to publicly repudiate the Saudi money was Endeavor, the Hollywood talent behemoth, which announced in March that it was returning the $400 million it had been granted from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

In August, SoftBank announced that it would soon begin investing its Vision Fund Two into a new batch of companies. Despite MBS's claim in October that the Saudis were injecting another $45 billion, they were nowhere to be found among the investors. Whether this was because of a newfound resistance to Saudi money or a newfound reluctance by MBS to spend it wasn't clear. As Uber's valuation flattened after its initial public offering and WeWork postponed its IPO under pressure, the Vision Fund itself was starting to look like a less-than-sure bet as an investment.

In June, Callamard and her team released their harrowing 100-page report, cataloging the gruesome details of the plot and its execution. It argued that the secret trials of the 11 accused henchmen in Saudi Arabia were unlikely to produce justice. (Al-Qahtani, the lead planner of the murder, had meanwhile disappeared from public view in Saudi Arabia, leading to still unconfirmed rumors that he'd been poisoned. In September, Twitter suddenly decided to suspend his long-dormant account.)

Instead, Callamard recommended that the US open an FBI investigation into the murder and sanction MBS — "in view of the credible evidence into the responsibilities of the Crown Prince for his murder" — until the Saudis provided evidence about the plot that could establish whether he was involved.

Days after the release of the report, however, Trump said in an interview on "Meet the Press" that he'd failed to even raise the murder in a call with MBS. It had been "a great conversation," he said. "It really didn't come up in that discussion."

Even as some members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — kept pushing for consequences for Khashoggi's murder, the Trump family remained steadfast in its loyalty. Trump ignored a bipartisan congressional directive to issue a report on the crown prince's involvement and vetoed an attempt to block US support for Saudi Arabia's brutal war in Yemen. Business between the two countries had, in fact, remained brisk: Less than three weeks after Khashoggi was murdered, the administration granted authorization to two private US companies to share sensitive nuclear information with the Saudi government.

The message to MBS couldn't have been clearer. "As long as President Trump is in power, and as long as MBS is paying money — buying arms, investing in US companies and the US economy — he would know that he has some kind of cover, some kind of protection," Carnegie's Farouk told me.

After two Saudi oil facilities were damaged by recent drone attacks that White House officials allege originated in Iran, Trump was asked by a reporter if he'd promised the Saudis "that the US will protect them."

"No, I haven't. I haven't promised the Saudis that," Trump replied. "But we would certainly help them," he said. "They've been a great ally. They spent $400 billion in our country over the last number of years. Four hundred billion dollars." Saudi Arabia, he said in conclusion, "pays cash."

Almost exactly two years since MBS's corruption crackdown, and two weeks before the anniversary of Khashoggi's murder, Khashoggi's adopted paper reported that Kushner was headed back to Saudi Arabia for this year's Davos in the Desert. The forum is being held at the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh.

On October 20, 2018, Hatice Cengiz awoke to the buzzing of her phone. It was a message from Khashoggi's best friend. "God rest his soul," he wrote. The Saudis' chief prosecutor had just admitted on television that her fiancé was dead.

On October 2, when Khashoggi had failed to emerge from the consulate, she had spent the evening making frantic calls, seeking any answer to where he'd gone. The officials' lies about his fate were cause for a cruel optimism that he could still be alive. Perhaps he had been kidnapped, shepherded out of the country, and taken back to Saudi Arabia. Disappeared, but still alive. It seemed beyond reason that they had just killed him.

She spent her days talking with his relatives and friends, trying to shield herself from the endless waves of curiosity and concern from all corners of the world. She gave few comments, held no press conferences. When Jamal walked back out from wherever he was, she thought, he would speak for himself.

For Cengiz, that fact of his death brought not just grief but questions. Some were straightforward, fueled by anger: Where was his body? Who was responsible? Who would seek justice for him? Others, she later said, were unanswerable, turning over and over in her head. "Was he angry with me?" she wondered. "What did he go through? What did he feel when he realized they were going to kill him?"

Left to grieve in the glare of a global spotlight, she'd had to set her studies aside as diplomats and governments concealed and spun and rationalized the death of the man she loved. She looked into TV cameras and described the agony of that day. She wrote a book in Turkish that included pages from her diary written in the days following the murder, intimate professions of the love his own country had exploited. All of it tinged with the hope of nudging the world toward an understanding of what was lost that October morning — or maybe even justice.

"These days are very precious for Jamal, I believe," she told me through a translator when we met on September 27 in a hotel suite near Grand Central Terminal in New York. "So I have to do whatever I can for him."

She had come to New York to deliver a speech in conjunction with the annual UN General Assembly meeting. Among the things she was pushing for were the recommendations from Callamard's report: a full investigation by an entity like the FBI, and accountability for everyone in Saudi Arabia responsible for what she called "a political assassination."

Ours was the last of a series of back-to-back interviews Cengiz gave that day. In some way, each exchange forced her to recount or reflect on the worst moments of her life and the grief that followed. Yet she seemed not weary, but unflinching, direct.

"Yes, I missed out on certain things career-wise, but I don't care about it for the moment," she said. "What matters is Jamal, and I need to defend his rights."

The question of MBS's accountability had reemerged that morning, when PBS released a trailer for an upcoming "Frontline" documentary about Saudi Arabia. In it, the journalist Martin Smith said that he tracked down MBS at a racing event and asked him about his role in Khashoggi's murder. "I get all the responsibility," Smith said the crown prince told him, "because it happened under my watch." Asked how the killing could have taken place without his orders, he'd said, "We have 20 million people. We have 3 million government employees."

A few days later, the crown prince enhanced his denial, in an interview with "60 Minutes." Calling the killing a "heinous incident," MBS replied "absolutely not" to a specific question about whether he'd ordered it, and then reiterated that he couldn't have kept watch on the actions of even his closest advisers among Saudi Arabia's millions of citizens.

In Cengiz's view, for MBS to issue such a statement at all showed that the pressure from the media coverage of the killing was getting to him. But its phrasing, she suggested, was also intended to send a message: "That he is the one in charge of the Saudi administration and Saudi government. And by saying that, he is strengthening his place." He was also, she believed, implicitly admitting that as the all-seeing ruler, he knew exactly what happened in the murder plot. "And now I am addressing him," she said. "If so, now that you've confessed that, please share the details of this incident."

Before we stood up to leave, I asked Cengiz how she kept herself from being overwhelmed by cynicism.

"This totally changed my life, and clearly divided my life into two," she said. "I'm 35, and I have suddenly started the second half of my life with a new agenda. And now nothing matters to me." She'd left her earthly concerns behind, she said. She was no longer afraid of death.

"To love and to be loved is the most important thing," she said. "I guess we must live for the things that are really worth it."

Evan Ratliff is the author of "The Mastermind: Drugs, Empire, Murder, Betrayal." His writing also appears in Wired, The New Yorker, and other magazines. He is the cofounder of The Atavist Magazine.

Siddhartha Mahanta is the features editor for Insider.

Chris Koehler is an award-winning artist and illustrator living in Sacramento.

Skye Gould is the senior graphics editor for Business Insider.

Samantha Lee is the senior graphic designer for Business Insider.

Daniel Boguslaw is a fact-checker and reporter living in New York City.



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