Jamal Kashoggi- The Assassination of the Saudi Journalist

  • The Assassination of the Dissident Saudi Journalist-Jamal Khashoggi

    Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia on the 13th of October 1958. Khashoggi hailed from a rather privileged family. His grandfather Mohammed Khashoggi, a man of Turkish origin was the personal physician of King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he was the nephew of a famous Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi whose presumed net worth in the early 80s was 4 billion US dollars. He was also the first cousins with Dodi Fayed, the man who died alongside Diana in the worlds most renowned RTA.

    Jamal Khashoggi was a very well-known journalist. He began his career as a journalist in the 1980s and had since worked in several capacities as a journalist ranging from a correspondent for a Saudi Gazette to a daily/weekly reporter for Arab Newspapers. He was appointed as a foreign correspondent for different countries in the Middle East and South Asia and Africa during the last decade of the millennium. It is also presumed that during this decade he also served with the Saudi Arabian Intelligence Agency and possibly also with the American Intelligence agency in Afghanistan.

    Troubles began walking his way in the early 2000s. He was not in favor of the extreme Wahhabism they had taken a turn for. He was more in favor in of the pre-1979 climate of the country where Wahhabism was duly restricted and the air was just about breathable. He eventually gave voice to reason and started openly talking against the conservative Saudi clerics, the highly powerful religious police and the laws and policies the Saudi people were being made to follow. In his view the existing atmosphere of the country was a little too extreme “a little too Wahhabi”. There was no freedom of expression which is pretty much the essence of a journalist’s life. Saudis didn’t dare utter a word against the government out of the fear of being imprisoned. Gender equality was but a foreign concept. Rights granted to women were primitive. They were given space to merely live, breathe, marry and reproduce. Women weren’t allowed to vote, they weren’t allowed to drive. The list could go on and on. In is view the Arab world was in dire need of freedom of expression. For him a more adjustable atmosphere was one where Islam and secularism could co-exist. In the years to come he became more vocal and spoke or wrote mostly against the decisions the government made. Because he was very vocal dissident he obviously suffered from a lot of backlash, he was forcefully made to resign from a few jobs, that obviously did not stop if anything it only fueled him further. During the 2011 protests that spread throughout the entire Middle East, he supported the opposing partied and heavily criticized the Saudi governments stance. He said in interview a few days before he vanished off the face of the earth "This was a critical period in Arab history. I had to take a position. The Arab world had waited for this moment of freedom for a thousand years." Even the king and crown prince Muhammed Bin Salman were not spared when he took to writing. While he may have appreciated the king for a few decisions he made like allowing women to drive there was a lot else the King did that Khashoggi did not approve of. He criticized the king for Saudi Arab led blockade against Qatar, for the dispute between Saudi Arab and Lebanon and the war imposed on Yemen by the Saudis and the incarceration of women right activists. Because of the ties Saudi Arab shared with America Khashoggi was banned form expressing his views both on TV and the internet and even the newspapers when he spoke against the US President Donald Trump.  It goes without saying that the Saudi Arabian environment had become a little too hostile for Khashoggi to live out his days there, especially after the initiation of a crackdown operation that was aimed at any intellectuals and activists who had spoken against the crown prince so he fled Saudi Arab in 2017 and went into a self-imposed exile and moved to America. After having resettled in America Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 formed a new political party named Democracy for the Arab World which obviously posed a serious threat to the crown Prince.

    In the days that preceded Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination he was in Turkey with his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. While in Istanbul, he visited the Saudi consulate to obtain Divorce documents on the 28th of September however he was told to return on the 2nd of October. Even though nothing peculiar had happened on his first visit, he had still talked to his fiancée ahead of time to carry two phones and if anything should happen to immediately contact the authorities or the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. On the 2nd of October a CCTV camera recorded Khashoggi walking into the Saudi consulate and that was the last time he was seen alive. His fiancée after having waited for 10 hours outside the consulate went to the media the following morning and the news of his disappearance became official. The Saudi government at first, obviously, denied any knowledge of his whereabouts. The crown prince Muhammed Bin Salman said that he had left the consulate within an hour of his arrival and that they had nothing to hide. They welcomed the Turkish officials to inspect and investigate at their leisure at which point a full-fledged investigation was launched and chain of contradicting statements had started flowing in. In a different statement from the one issued earlier by the Saudi officials, they claimed that Khashoggi had died in a “fistfight” inside the consulate. On the 20th October of October Saudi public prosecutor on state television reported that Khashoggi was murdered on the orders of a rogue intelligence officer. In another contradicting statement the Saudis were recorded saying that Khashoggi had died as a result of choking whist resisting the attempts to return him back to Saudi Arab. On the 15th of November the Saudi public prosecutor said Jamal Khashoggi was given a lethal injection and his body was dismembered. The Turkish officials had been in the meantime conducting investigations and gathering evidence including DNA samples. According to them the grotesque murder was a premeditated one and the involvement of the highest Saudi officials was quite possible, excluding the king Salman. The conclusion that the entire murder was pre-planned was based on the fact that a man wearing Khashoggi’s clothing was seen leaving the consulate a few hours after. According to Turkish officials 3 teams of Saudi men, 15 in total had arrived in Istanbul a day before the gruesome murder had taken place. These men were later identified as Saudi intelligence officers who were also seen arriving at the consulate the same day Khashoggi had gone. According to the Turkish officials Jamal wasn’t immediately murdered but had undergone heinous torture before being strangled. By the ides of November Turkish officials claimed it had audio recordings of the killing which could prove that he was tortured before being murdered. According to some sources Khashoggi in his last minutes was recorded saying that he couldn’t breathe. It is also claimed that in the recordings a saw could also be heard which was used for dismembering his body parts. Turkey had shared these recordings with Saudi Arab, US, UK, Germany and France. These recording however were not made public. According to the Turkish officials the Saudi intelligence agents had bought a bone cutter with them, of the 15 men that came to Istanbul, 4 had close and personal relationships with crown prince, 1 of them was a senior from their interior ministry and 1 was a doctor who was a post mortem expert. Since the murder was committed on the Turkish soil, turkey has been trying to get Saudi Arab to extradite the men who were a part of the yet alleged gang that was involved in the murder but all their attempts have so far gone in vain.

    Even though Saudi Arab hasn’t officially endorsed any of the accusations that have been made thus far, it has still obviously had to endure a lot of backlash because Jamal Khashoggi’s death was given international coverage. His death as condemned all over the world. It was deemed as one of the worst cover ups in history by Trump. While several countries were still deciding over canceling their dealing of arms and ammunition with Saudi Arab Germany was the first to immediately and effectively end their trading with them. Finland, Denmark and other countries of the European Union eventually followed. The United States president even after being advised by member of the government did not cancel their dealing of arms with the Saudis, and continues to defend America’s ties with Saudi Arab. 

    Submitted by: Syed Shah Rukh Ali

    Class:M.Sc Mass Communication

    Semester: 3rd

    CMS: 23271