Just the Facts
Five Facts on the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
By Emma Petasis
October 11, 2018 | Blog
Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist and outspoken critic of the country’s leadership, has been missing since entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2. While his whereabouts are unknown, concern that he was murdered at the hands of the Saudi government has sparked international backlash and threatens to strain relations between Saudi Arabia and some of its most important allies, including the U.S. Here are five facts on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi:
Jamal Khashoggi is a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist who has been critical of the country’s leadership
Khashoggi first rose to prominence as a journalist in the 1980s while reporting on the rise of al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama Bin Laden. As editor-in-chief of the Saudi Al-Watan daily newspaper during the early 2000s, he was fired twice from his post for running editorials and cartoons critical of Muslim extremists and Saudi leadership. Despite his criticisms, he remained an important adviser to numerous government officials, such as the former Saudi ambassador to London, Prince Turki Al-Faisal. However, following the ascension of Mohammad bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2017, Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia for the U.S. out of fear that his practice of criticizing the country’s leadership could put his life in jeopardy under the new regime.
Khashoggi has lived in self-imposed exile in Virginia since fleeing Saudi Arabia
During his time in the U.S., Khashoggi has continued to be an outspoken critic of Mohammad bin Salman’s government. He has written a monthly column in The Washington Post that focuses on his many criticisms of the Saudi Arabian government and its practices. In his first column for the paper on September 18, 2017 he wrote: “I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison. I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”
Khashoggi has not been seen since he went to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey to file paperwork for his upcoming wedding on October 2
Khashoggi, who is engaged to a Turkish woman, Hatice Cengiz, first visited the consulate without issue on September 28 to begin the paperwork for his marriage. However, he has not been seen since entering the consulate for a second time on October 2. Cengiz, who accompanied him to the gates of the consulate (but did not go inside) has described waiting outside for hours, even after the consulate had closed, with no sign of Khashoggi. She was told by a guard that everyone had left the building for the night and that her fiancé was not in there. At this point, she called local police and contacted an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a step Khashoggi had previously told her to take if anything ever happened to him.
While Saudi Arabia has denied any wrongdoing, both U.S. and Turkish officials have strong evidence that the Saudi government has either killed or kidnapped Khashoggi
Turkish officials have concluded that upon entering the consulate Khashoggi was murdered by 15 Saudi agents who had orders from “the highest levels of the royal court.” The officials detailed a coordinated effort that required two private planes to transport the team and a bone saw transported to Turkey to dismember Khashoggi’s body. U.S. officials have not come to a public conclusion on whether Khashoggi is alive, a Washington Post article revealed that U.S. intelligence had intercepted discussions among Saudi officials discussing a plan that had been ordered by Mohammed bin Salman to lure the journalist back to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.
On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Trump triggering an investigation into the disappearance of Khashoggi
The letter, signed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), called on Trump to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the president to impose sanctions on a person or country that commits a human rights violation. Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, admitted that “everything indicates” Khashoggi was murdered by Saudi Arabia before stating, “If it’s found that they, as everything indicates today … murdered a journalist, that will hugely change our relationship.” Graham echoed Corker’s tone, telling reporters, “I’ve never been more disturbed than I am right now … if this man was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, that would cross every line of normality in the international community.”