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.

Continents and regions

Embassies and consulates

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

International relations

International relations and national security

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Misc people

Osama Bin Laden

Saudi Arabia

State departments and diplomatic services

North America

The Americas

United States

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: 161516

Reported Deaths: 3916
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10863104
Hinds10705207
Harrison7624114
Jackson6774131
Rankin6303114
Lee557798
Madison5311112
Forrest405587
Jones388589
Lauderdale3754149
Lafayette347358
Washington3421108
Lamar310350
Lowndes265168
Oktibbeha262763
Bolivar254686
Panola243754
Neshoba2333124
Marshall229451
Leflore216492
Monroe216278
Pontotoc213631
Lincoln203267
Sunflower198156
Warren189559
Tate187251
Union179626
Copiah176141
Pike170860
Pearl River168170
Itawamba166637
Scott166030
Yazoo164441
Alcorn161529
Coahoma160044
Prentiss159034
Simpson156954
Grenada149545
Adams148852
Leake146244
George138326
Covington137642
Holmes136861
Tippah135230
Winston134326
Hancock132842
Wayne127424
Attala126836
Marion126548
Tishomingo116444
Newton114929
Chickasaw112632
Tallahatchie101227
Clay98527
Clarke96954
Jasper90023
Stone85115
Calhoun82413
Montgomery80726
Walthall80430
Carroll78115
Lawrence76814
Smith76516
Yalobusha75728
Noxubee74817
Perry70127
Greene66023
Tunica64019
Amite61815
Jefferson Davis60818
Claiborne59716
Humphreys56119
Benton51018
Quitman5107
Kemper50019
Webster49514
Wilkinson42522
Jefferson39012
Franklin3866
Choctaw3757
Sharkey33517
Issaquena1254
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 264199

Reported Deaths: 3831
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson35310515
Mobile20626372
Madison14521153
Tuscaloosa13897173
Montgomery12844246
Shelby1127878
Baldwin9501138
Lee807167
Morgan740555
Etowah704870
Marshall695358
Calhoun6939126
Houston559140
DeKalb521843
Cullman490650
St. Clair466557
Limestone462446
Lauderdale452257
Elmore440070
Walker3914112
Talladega386157
Jackson373523
Colbert347948
Blount323146
Autauga294542
Franklin265534
Coffee260023
Dale247355
Dallas236832
Chilton235445
Covington234834
Russell23433
Escambia208832
Tallapoosa192692
Chambers189154
Clarke165422
Pike165215
Marion150236
Winston146325
Lawrence139936
Pickens129720
Geneva12929
Marengo127824
Bibb127038
Barbour121729
Butler121142
Cherokee108224
Randolph108022
Fayette102216
Hale102132
Clay95527
Washington94222
Henry9097
Monroe85311
Lowndes82930
Cleburne80914
Macon77522
Crenshaw73830
Lamar7348
Conecuh73215
Bullock71120
Perry7037
Wilcox65918
Sumter60122
Greene45818
Choctaw43620
Coosa3854
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 59°
Columbus
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 57°
Oxford
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 54°
Starkville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 55°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather