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The awful disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi writer, ...

Posted: Oct 8, 2018 5:52 PM
Updated: Oct 8, 2018 5:52 PM

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi writer, vanished on Tuesday after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork so he could marry his Turkish fiancée. He has not been seen or heard from since.

As a columnist for the Washington Post, Khashoggi was a frequent critic of the Saudi regime. Khashoggi was living in self-imposed exile in the United States.

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On Saturday, Turkish officials told the Washington Post that Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm these reports and a Saudi official has denied them.

Earlier in the week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had told Bloomberg News that Khashoggi had left the consulate unmolested, but if that was the case, why hasn't he contacted anyone?

Media outlets around the world have reported on Khashoggi's mysterious disappearance. If Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed, it's inconceivable he wouldn't have informed his fiancée, family, friends and colleagues at the Washington Post.

I have known Khashoggi for more than a decade and am appalled at the possibility that the Saudi government would engineer the disappearance of a writer who worked tirelessly to promote civilized, humane values.

Khashoggi and bin Laden's paths diverged

I first came to know Khashoggi when I was reporting on Osama bin Laden. As young men, Khashoggi and bin Laden knew each other well because Khashoggi was the first journalist from a major Arab news organization to profile bin Laden when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the late 1980s. Both men were idealistic and religious and were opposed to the communist invasion of a Muslim country and the brutal tactics of the Soviet military.

On May 4, 1988, Khashoggi wrote a story for Arab News that quoted bin Laden as saying, "It was God alone who protected us from the Russians during their offensive last year. Reliance upon God is the main source of our strength."

Seven years later, when bin Laden was based in Sudan, Khashoggi visited him there. Bin Laden told his old friend that that he was thinking of returning to Saudi Arabia and renouncing his war against the Saudi regime. That, of course, didn't happen -- and in 1996 bin Laden moved to Afghanistan, where he launched his war against the United States.

While bin Laden became the world's most wanted terrorist, Khashoggi went on to have a distinguished career as a writer and editor and also an adviser to Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was the Saudi ambassador to both the United Kingdom and the United States.

The totalitarian regime in Saudi Arabia

The disappearance of Khashoggi is of a piece with much that the Saudi regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is doing.

In 2015, bin Salman, who is often referred to as MBS, launched a war in Yemen in which at least 6,500 civilians have been killed, many of them from Saudi munitions, according to the United Nations in a report that was released in August.

The UN report noted that, "air strikes have hit residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities."

The Saudis have also arrested a range of civil society activists and conservative clerics, including some who may face death sentences.

Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for a 29-year-old Shia female activist accused of organizing demonstrations for greater Shia rights who was arrested in December.

Similarly, the Saudis are seeking the death penalty for a prominent, reformist cleric, Salman Al-Oudah, who has called for elections in the Saudi kingdom.

Saudi Arabia was once a consensus-based absolute monarchy, but under MBS's direction it is increasingly becoming a secularizing totalitarian dictatorship.

While there is much to praise in some of what MBS has done, such as removing the feared religious police from the streets and making real efforts to reform the heavily oil-dependent Saudi economy, there is also much that is inexcusable.

There is no hard evidence as yet that Khashoggi was murdered, but if such evidence were to emerge and the Saudis are found to be responsible, the United States should impose sanctions on the Saudis just as the Trump administration did in August against the Russians following their use of a nerve agent to attempt to kill a former Russian agent and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

Khashoggi, after all, was both a legal resident of the United States and was employed by a major American media institution.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 320174

Reported Deaths: 7390
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22294271
Hinds20755424
Harrison18450317
Rankin13923282
Jackson13733249
Madison10273225
Lee10063176
Jones8473167
Forrest7837153
Lauderdale7263242
Lowndes6523150
Lamar636288
Lafayette6314121
Washington5427138
Bolivar4841133
Panola4671110
Oktibbeha466398
Pearl River4606148
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425973
Monroe4162136
Union415877
Neshoba4065180
Lincoln4009113
Hancock387687
Leflore3516125
Tate342586
Sunflower339491
Pike3373111
Alcorn327474
Scott320374
Yazoo314571
Adams308486
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma299084
Simpson298689
Tippah292268
Prentiss284261
Leake272374
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264842
Grenada264087
George252451
Newton249064
Tishomingo232369
Winston230282
Jasper222148
Attala215173
Chickasaw210659
Holmes190574
Stone188733
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174232
Yalobusha167940
Smith164134
Walthall135447
Greene131834
Lawrence131224
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127538
Amite126342
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108334
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96729
Franklin85023
Quitman82316
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66328
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 549013

Reported Deaths: 11311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810461571
Mobile42145831
Madison35718525
Tuscaloosa26179458
Shelby25626254
Montgomery25089614
Baldwin21901314
Lee16287176
Calhoun14724327
Morgan14639285
Etowah14183364
Marshall12454230
Houston10791287
Elmore10301214
Limestone10188157
St. Clair10161251
Cullman9958201
Lauderdale9612250
DeKalb8977190
Talladega8462184
Walker7341280
Autauga7242113
Jackson6953113
Blount6950139
Colbert6415140
Coffee5638127
Dale4930116
Russell454941
Chilton4478116
Franklin431782
Covington4279122
Tallapoosa4144155
Escambia401880
Chambers3728124
Dallas3610158
Clarke353161
Marion3245107
Pike314578
Lawrence3134100
Winston283572
Bibb268564
Geneva258481
Marengo250665
Pickens237062
Barbour234559
Hale227178
Butler224671
Fayette218962
Henry194443
Randolph187644
Cherokee187345
Monroe180641
Washington170739
Macon163051
Clay160159
Crenshaw156357
Cleburne153644
Lamar146937
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124542
Conecuh113630
Coosa111629
Perry108626
Sumter105832
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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