Key Questions to Consider:
1: Who was Jamal Khashoggi?
Jamal Khashoggi came from a prominent family and was close with the Saudi Arabian royal family. In addition, he was a famous journalist for multiple Saudi Arabian newspapers, covering major stories like the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the rise of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2001. After the Crowned Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, became the de-facto ruler in 2017, Khashoggi became increasingly critical of the prince’s policies due to his harsh suppression of criticism from dissenters both within the nation and abroad.
After many attempts to silence Khashoggi within Saudi Arabia, he left the country that year and came to America, where he soon joined the Washington Post as a monthly columnist and continued to criticize the Crowned Prince.
2: What happened to Khashoggi?
In October 2018, while filing paperwork in Turkey to marry his fiancé, Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate at Istanbul by a Saudi hit-team consisting of 15 government agents. To hide his remains, they immediately dismembered his body and transported them out of the consulate in a van. His remains are still missing to this day.
The Saudis stated, after their investigations, that the columnist died in a fistfight, but after international outrage, they later confirmed he did die in the consulate, and it was likely a “rogue operation.” In 2019, they sentenced 5 of the implicated killers to death, although their punishments were later shifted to jail sentences between 5 to 20 years.
Many of these assassins were identified as personal security officers for the prince. Based on the close affiliations that the prince has with some of the hitmen, many Western nations were quick to suspect that the prince may have played a role in Khashoggi’s assassination. Although Former President Donald Trump didn’t release the CIA’s full declassified report on the killing, he did release their conclusion: they have medium to high confidence that the Crowned Prince was directly involved in the murder.
3: What are the recent developments of this case?
President Trump did not release the CIA document in fear of straining relations with Saudi Arabia and losing America’s foothold in the Middle East. Bin Salman just gained power of the nation, so the President knew little of how he would respond to American sanctions or prosecution of criminal charges.
However, the prince has now held power for 3 years, and America has learned more about him. President Biden must have felt comfortable enough to potentially strain relations with the nation in order to spread the truth about Khashoggi. On February 26, he released the full previously-classified CIA report on Khashoggi. In it, the CIA provides multiple rationales and evidence regarding why they suspect the prince for the murder.
However, Biden will probably not go much further than releasing the report. He will not prosecute bin Salman for criminal charges or bar him from entering the country. Likely, he agrees with his predecessor that straining Saudi relations would weaken America’s foothold in the Middle East and only help American enemies like Iran. However, his administration has made smaller moves. They enacted a “Khashoggi ban,” which would restrict visas to anyone suspected of entering America to harass or harm dissidents and journalists from around the world.
Despite this, the Saudi government has already issued a response rejecting its evidence and conclusion, stating that they find it “unfortunate that this report is issued while the kingdom had clearly denounced this heinous crime, and the kingdom’s leadership took the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy never takes place again.”
- Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian journalist who was working for the Washington Post, and he was one of the most vocal critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was suppressing domestic criticism of his policies within the country.
- In October 2018, Khashoggi was killed in Turkey by a group of 15 Saudi government agents. Many Western nations suspected the prince was directly behind the attack due to his personal connections between many of the suspected assassins.
- On February 26, President Biden declassified and released the full CIA report that provided evidence to back claims of the prince’s role in the killings.
- Despite the ample evidence, Biden and his advisers will not take action against the prince because they do not want to strain economic and diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia.
- Already, the Saudi Arabian government has rejected the report’s findings.
Featured image: Hansmusa / Alamy