What happened to Jamal Khashoggi?

First and foremost, we should all remember that Jamal Khashoggi was a father, grandfather, friend, dedicated journalist, and was engaged to be married. Furthermore, certain facts about his associations of decades past with entities like Osama Bin Laden and the Muslim Brotherhood are being taken widely out of context and peddled by the media in order to skew public opinion on other issues surrounding the kingdom.

By all accounts— Khashoggi was a peaceful man who just wanted the best for his home country of Saudi Arabia and would interview anyone to make that happen— even though others may deem them untouchable from a journalistic point of view.

Ultimately, his opinions on Saudi leadership and journalistic independence led to his murder. What follows is an account of the known facts in the death of Jamal Khashoggi:

Jamal Khashoggi was barred from writing and making appearances within the kingdom of Saudi Arabia after he criticized Donald Trump in the latter part of 2016. It was at this point that he went into exile.

In 2017, Khashoggi moved to the United States and became a columnist and contributor for the Washington Post. On Oct. 2, Khashoggi was captured by CCTV walking into the Saudi embassy in Istanbul to obtain the paperwork that was required to marry his Turkish fiancé. He was never seen or heard from again.

US and Turkish Intelligence picked up chatter about a team of 15-20 Saudis who arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 2, one of which was a personal guard of the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (this was thought to be the “hit squad” sent to murder Jamal Khashoggi).

Reports also indicated that one member of that team was in possession of a bone saw upon arrival in Istanbul. The Saudi’s original position was that Khashoggi left the embassy through the back door and that they had no idea what became of him. (CCTVs had been turned off). Pictures were obtained of a cleaning crew being admitted into the embassy on Oct. 13.

The Turkish government requested to search the embassy and was denied access until Oct.15, almost two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance and more than a day after the cleaning crew was seen entering the embassy.

Saudi Arabia states on Oct. 19 that Khashoggi was killed in the embassy as a result of a “brawl” with his attempted interrogators who were rogue agents.

On Oct. 22 a car, thought to have carried the body of Jamal Khashoggi was found in an underground parking structure in Istanbul. Reports indicate that clues gathered there led investigators to the house of the Saudi Consul General.

On Oct. 23, Turkish president Erdogan stated that Khashoggi was “ferociously murdered” and that “covering up this kind of savagery will hurt the conscience of all humanity.” Later, a video was released by Turkish officials showing a Saudi wearing what appears to be a fake beard and the clothes of Jamal Khashoggi outside the embassy in what many believe was an attempt to spread doubt of Saudi responsibility.

Then, body parts belonging to Jamal Khashoggi were found in the home garden of the Saudi Consul General. Reports stated that his body parts were “cut up” and his facial features “disfigured.”On Oct. 25, Turkish officials say they have proof that this was a hit carried out by a 15-member team and or that it was premeditated.

I asked Dr. Mark O’Gorman, a professor of political science at Maryville College, if he believed the Saudi’s explanation of events.

I think the Saudi government has changed its account on what happened to Mr. Khashoggi, enough times now (no idea where he went after the embassy, oh yes he was there, but disappeared, oh he was hurt, oh yes, he died in a fist fight) that ANY trained law enforcement official would take with great suspicion the Saudi’s version of events. There is discussion of physical evidence and electronic evidence that, hopefully, can lead to the truth.” 

– Dr. Mark O’Gorman 

Donald Trump has been hesitant to oppose the Saudi position, often citing a major weapon deal which is set to take place at some point in the future. The issue with the President’s mentality is that it places a dollar amount on the life of an American resident.

At what point are we, as a civilized nation, obligated to stand up and say, “no more.” “No more” to regimes that oppress and murder innocent people. “No more” to entitled princes and royalty who attempt to flatter and threaten their way to power. Eric Trump has asked in recent days on Fox News if we are supposed to just give up our relationship with Saudi Arabia over this incident. The short answer—Yes.

I wondered how our policies and practices regarding Saudi Arabia should change in light of their recent actions.

O’Gorman believes, “The United States and the world community should respond strongly and condemn Saudi Arabia for murdering journalists (if the investigation confirms that, which by this writing seems to be the outcome, that he was tortured and murdered). Khashoggi was a resident of the US and a member of the working press. His murder suggests Saudi Arabia dismisses the press as irrelevant. There is a grey arena, in that the direct link between the murderers and Saudi leaders is still a bit murky – specifically whether this was a random violent act or was a “hit” on Khashoggi ordered by Saudi leaders. If the latter, then a condemnation and possible US sanctions on Saudi Arabia is warranted.

We have a responsibility as a world leader to uphold a certain level of moral behavior which can be looked up to by the rest of the world. This is a time which we must put financial determinants on the back-burner and do what’s right for the sake of doing what’s right.

Khashoggi was an American resident who was lured to a location where he could be murdered by agents of his home nation simply because he criticized the leader of that nation through his journalism. If that isn’t a reason to take a stand on principle, I’m not sure when is.

Before his disappearance, he wrote a piece about the Arab world’s need for a free press and while we may not see “our America” in the actions of a nation like Saudi Arabia—if we continue to vilify our journalists and media figures—we may not be far away.

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