Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi (/kəˈʃɡʒi, kəˈʃɒɡʒi/; Arabic: جمال أحمد خاشقجي, romanized: Jamāl ʾAḥmad Ḵāšuqjī, Hejazi pronunciation: [dʒaˈmaːl xaːˈʃʊɡ.(d)ʒi]; 13 October 1958 – 2 October 2018) was a Saudi Arabian dissident, author, columnist for The Washington Post, and a general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel who was assassinated at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018 by agents of the Saudi government [5][6][7][8] after they had allegedly used Israeli spyware to hack his friend's cell phone.[9] He also served as editor for the Saudi newspaper Al Watan, turning it into a platform for Saudi progressives.[10]

Jamal Khashoggi
Khashoggi in March 2018
Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi[1]

(1958-10-13)13 October 1958[2]
Medina, Saudi Arabia
Died2 October 2018(2018-10-02) (aged 59)[3]
Istanbul, Turkey
Cause of deathAssassination
Alma materIndiana State University
OccupationJournalist, columnist, author
Spouse(s)Rawia al-Tunisi (div.)[1]
Partner(s)Hatice Cengiz (fiancee, 2018)[4]
  • Ahmad Khashoggi[1] (father)
  • Esaaf Daftar[1] (mother)

Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia in September 2017 and went into self-imposed exile. He said that the Saudi government had "banned him from Twitter",[11] and he later wrote newspaper articles critical of the Saudi government. Khashoggi had been sharply critical of Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, and the country's king, Salman of Saudi Arabia.[12] He also opposed the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen.[13]

On 2 October 2018, Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to his planned marriage, but was never seen leaving. Amid news reports claiming that he had been killed and dismembered inside, an inspection of the consulate, by Saudi and Turkish officials, took place on 15 October. Initially the Saudi government denied the death, but following shifting explanations for Khashoggi's death, Saudi Arabia's attorney general eventually stated that the murder was premeditated.[14][15] By 16 November 2018, the CIA had concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination.[16][17]

On 11 December 2018, Jamal Khashoggi was named Time magazine's person of the year for his work in journalism along with other journalists who faced political persecution for their work. Time magazine referred to Khashoggi as a "Guardian of the Truth".[18][19][20]

Early life

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was born in Medina on 13 October 1958.[1] His grandfather, Muhammad Khashoggi, who was of Turkish origin ( Muhammed Halit Kaşıkçı), married a Saudi Arabian woman and was personal physician to King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.[21]

Jamal Khashoggi was the nephew of the high-profile Saudi Arabian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, known for his part in the Iran–Contra scandal,[22][23] who was estimated to have had a net worth of US$4 billion in the early 1980s.[24][25] Adnan Khashoggi had claimed that his own grandfather was of Jewish descent.[26] Jamal Khashoggi was 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.[27]

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.[7][28][29]

His first wife was Dr. Alaa Nassif. They had two sons, Salah and Abdullah Khashoggi and two daughters, Noha and Razan Jamal Khashoggi.[30][31][32]

Khashoggi's four children were all educated in the U.S. and two of them are U.S. citizens.[33] After his assassination all four were banned from leaving Saudi Arabia.[34]


Jamal Khashoggi began his career as a regional manager for Tihama Bookstores from 1983 to 1984.[35] Later he worked as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette and as an assistant manager for Okaz from 1985 to 1987.[35] 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.[7][35] Khashoggi became managing editor and acting editor-in-chief of Al Madina in 1991 and his tenure in that position lasted until 1999.[35]

From 1991 to 1999, he was a foreign correspondent in such countries as Afghanistan, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan, and in the Middle East.[7] It is also claimed that he served with both Saudi Arabian Intelligence Agency and possibly the United States in Afghanistan during this period.[37] He then was appointed a deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News, and served in the post from 1999 to 2003.[38]

Political views

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."[39] He also said that Saudis "must find a way where we can accommodate secularism and Islam, something like what they have in Turkey."[40] 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."[41]

In the Post, he criticized the Saudi Arabian-led blockade against Qatar,[39] Saudi Arabia's dispute with Lebanon,[42] Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada,[43] and the Kingdom's crackdown on dissent and media.[44] Khashoggi supported some of Crown Prince's reforms, like allowing women to drive,[45] 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.[39]

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."[46]

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.[47]

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."[48]

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."[42]

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."[43] 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."[49] 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."[42]

Khashoggi criticized El–Sisi's regime in Egypt. According to Khashoggi, "Egypt has jailed 60,000 opposition members and is deserving of criticism as well."[43] Khashoggi wrote that despite US 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."[50] The military regime was installed in Egypt following the overthrow of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi in a military coup on 3 July 2013.[51]

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."[52]

Opinions on Khashoggi's views

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."[40] 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."[51] 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."[53][50] 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."[54]

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."[55]

Donald Trump Jr. promoted the idea that Khashoggi was a "jihadist".[56] 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."[57] 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".[58]

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."[59] 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."[60] 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".[61][53][57]

Relationship with Osama bin Laden

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.[62][63] 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."[57]

Al Arabiya reported that Khashoggi once tried to persuade bin Laden to quit violence.[64][57] Khashoggi said: "I was very much surprised [in 1997] to see Osama turning into radicalism the way he did."[40] 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.[60]

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."[62]

The New York Times describes that after American commandos 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."[58]

Saudi Arabia

Khashoggi briefly became the editor-in-chief of the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan in 2003.[7][65][66][38] After less than two months, he was dismissed in May 2003 by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Information because he had allowed a columnist to criticize the Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), who is considered the founding father of Wahhabism.[67] This incident led to Khashoggi's reputation in the West as a liberal progressive.[60]

After he was dismissed, Khashoggi went to London in voluntary exile. There he became an adviser to Prince Turki Al Faisal.[68] He then served as a media aide to Al Faisal while the latter was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.[69] In April 2007, Khashoggi began to work as editor-in-chief of Al Watan for a second time.[38]

A column by poet Ibrahim al-Almaee challenging the basic Salafi premises was published in Al Watan in May 2010 and led to Khashoggi's second departure, on 17 May 2010.[70] Al Watan announced that Khashoggi resigned as editor-in-chief "to focus on his personal projects". However, it is thought that he was forced out due to official displeasure with articles critical of the Kingdom's harsh Islamic rules.[70] After his second resignation, Khashoggi maintained ties with Saudi Arabian elites, including those in its intelligence apparatus. In 2015, he launched the satellite news channel Al-Arab, based in Bahrain outside Saudi Arabia, which does not allow independent news channels to operate within its borders. The news channel was backed by Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and partnered with U.S. financial news channel Bloomberg Television, it was also rumored to have received financial support from the King of Bahrain, Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa[71]. However, it was on air for less than 11 hours before it was shut down by Bahrain.[72][73] He was also a political commentator for Saudi Arabian and international channels, including MBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Dubai TV.[35] Between June 2012 and September 2016, his opinion columns were regularly published by Al Arabiya.[74]

Citing a report from Middle East Eye, The Independent said in December 2016 that Khashoggi had been banned by Saudi Arabian authorities from publishing or appearing on television "for criticising U.S. President-elect Donald Trump".[75]

The Washington Post

Khashoggi relocated to the United States in June 2017[76] and began writing for The Washington Post in September 2017.[77]

In September 2017, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who felt that Khashoggi's work was tarnishing his image, told Turki Aldakhil that he would go after Khashoggi "with a bullet".[78]

Saudi Arabia used a reputed troll farm in Riyadh, employing hundreds of people, to harass Khashoggi and other critics of the Saudi regime.[79] Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden accused the Saudi Government of using spyware known as "Pegasus" to monitor Khashoggi's cell phone.[9]

According to The Spectator, "With almost two million Twitter followers, he was the most famous political pundit in the Arab world and a regular guest on the major TV news networks in Britain and the United States."[60] In 2018, Khashoggi established a new political party called "Democracy for the Arab World Now".[60]

In December 2018, The Washington Post revealed that Khashoggi's columns "at times" were "shaped" by an organization funded by Saudi Arabia’s regional nemesis, Qatar, including by proposing his topics, giving him drafts, goading him, and giving him research.[80]


Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018[81] to obtain documents related to his planned marriage, but no CCTV recorded him exiting.[82][83] Amid news reports claiming that he had been dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate,[84][85] he was declared a missing person.[86] Saudi Arabian and Turkish officials inspected the consulate on 15 October, during which Turkish officials found evidence that Khashoggi had been killed and that chemical experts had tampered with evidence.[87][88]

In November, the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi's assassination.[16][17] News reports since early October (based on communication intercepted by the U.S.) had suggested that bin Salman had given direct orders to lure the journalist into the embassy, intending to bring him back to Saudi Arabia in an illegal extraordinary rendition.[89]

In March 2019, Interpol issued Red Notices for twenty people wanted in connection to the murder of Khashoggi.[90]

On 19 June 2019, following a six-month investigation, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a 101-page report holding the State of Saudi Arabia responsible for the "premeditated extrajudicial execution" of Khashoggi. The report was issued by Agnes Callamard, a French human rights expert and UN Special Rapporteur.[91]

Saudi response

The Saudi Arabian government changed its story several times. Initially, it denied the death and claimed that Khashoggi had left the consulate alive.[92] Eighteen days later, it said he had been strangled inside the consulate during a fistfight.[93] Eighteen Saudis were arrested, including the team of fifteen who had been sent to "confront him".[94][95] The "fistfight" story was contradicted on 25 October when Saudi Arabia's attorney general said the murder was premeditated.[96]

Many Saudi critics have been reported missing under suspicious circumstances.[97]

In a 20 June 2019 interview, Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir acknowledged to CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was "gruesome", but he said he disagreed with the conclusion of the United Nation's 101-page report, calling it "flawed".[98]

In September 2019, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated that he bears the responsibility for Khashoggi’s assassination by Saudi operatives “because it happened under my watch”, according to a preview of a PBS documentary. However, he denied having any prior knowledge of the plot.[99]

Turkish response

On 31 October, Istanbul's chief prosecutor released a statement saying that Khashoggi had been strangled as soon as he entered the consulate building, and that his body was dismembered and disposed of.[100] This was the first such accusation by a Turkish figure of government.[101] His body may have been dissolved in acid, according to Turkish officials,[102] and his last words captured on an audio recording were reported as “I can’t breathe." The recording was subsequently released by the Turkish government.[103] Officials believed this recording contained evidence that Khashoggi was assassinated on the orders of the Saudi Royal Family.[82]

U.S. response

Immediately following the assassination, politicians were divided as to which, if any, economic or other sanctions should be applied to Saudi Arabia.[104][105]

On 20 November, U.S. President Donald Trump rejected the CIA's conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing. He issued a statement saying "it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't." and that "In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."[106] Two days later, Trump denied that the CIA had even reached a conclusion.[107] His statements were criticized by Congressional representatives from both parties, who promised to investigate the matter.[108] Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who was briefed by the CIA on the agency assessment, accused President Trump of lying about the CIA findings.[109]

On 13 December, in opposition to the White House's position, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution that held bin Salman personally responsible for the death of Khashoggi.[110] On the same day, the Senate voted 56-41 to pass legislation to end U.S. military aid for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, a vote attributable to senators' desires to punish Saudi Arabia for the Khashoggi murder and for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, including a famine and human rights violations.[110] This was the first-ever invocation of the War Powers Act by the Senate.[111] The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly blocked consideration of any War Powers Resolution restricting U.S. actions relating to Yemen for the rest of the year.[112]

In June 2019, when President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with bin Salman to discuss military matters, they did not bring up the subject of Khashoggi's assassination.[113] A week later, at the G-20 summit, during a group photo of international leaders, Trump shook bin Salman's hand.[114]


The Middle East correspondent of The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote that the killing of Jamal Khashoggi "is by no means the worst act carried out by Saudi Arabia since 2015, though it is much the best publicised. ... Saudi leaders imagined that, having got away with worse atrocities in Yemen, that any outcry over the death of a single man in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was something they could handle".[115]

Vanity Fair reported that "several House Republicans have mounted a whisper campaign to discredit Khashoggi—or at least, to knock his reputation down a few notches—based on his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and his role as an embedded journalist who covered Osama bin Laden. ... The campaign to discredit Khashoggi, which might have once been executed surreptitiously, is now front and center on Twitter and echoing on Fox News".[116] According to American political analyst Bill Kristol, "Trump wants to take a soft line [on punishing Saudi Arabia], so Trump supporters are finding excuses for him to take it. One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered".[116]

Personal life

Khashoggi was described as an observant Muslim.[117]

At the time of his death, Khashoggi was planning to marry Hatice Cengiz, a 36-year-old Ph.D. candidate at a university in Istanbul. The couple had met in May 2018, during a conference in the city. Khashoggi, a Saudi national, visited the Saudi consulate on 2 October to obtain paperwork that would allow him to marry Cengiz.[118] Khashoggi was married and divorced three times. His first marriage was to Rawia al-Tunisi, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.[119]


There have been calls to rename the streets with the Saudi embassy to "Khashoggi Street" or equivalent. In London, Amnesty International put up a sign with that name outside the Saudi embassy, one month after Khashoggi disappeared into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.[121]

In Washington, D.C. a petition was started to rename the street outside the Saudi embassy as "Jamal Khashoggi Way".[121] In late November 2018, local officials voted to rename the street in honor of Jamal Khashoggi; it will next have to be approved by the city council.[122][123]

In December 2018, Khashoggi was named by Time magazine as a Time Person of the Year for 2018.[124]

As of 2019, the "Jamal Khashoggi award" for courageous journalism (or JKA) will be awarded; 5 projects will get a maximum USD 5,000 each in order to support investigative journalistic projects.[125]

See also


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