"I doubt that
Trump understands -- or cares about -- what message he's sending. Wealthy
Saudis, including members of the extended royal family, have been his patrons
for years, buying his distressed properties when he needed money. In the early
1990s, a Saudi prince purchased Trump's flashy yacht so that the
then-struggling businessman could come up with cash to stave off personal
bankruptcy, and later, the prince bought a share of the Plaza Hotel, one of
Trump's many business deals gone bad. Trump also sold an entire floor of his
landmark Trump Tower condominium to the Saudi government in 2001."
Sen. Rand Paul: Sanctions Against Saudi Arabia Don’t Go Far Enough
(CNSNews.com) – Sanctions against the Saudi government aren’t enough punishment for the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told “Fox News Sunday.”
The senator said for one thing, Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, often referred to as MBS, must be replaced.
“I think the Saudis are an authoritarian government. They are directed from the top down, and you don't have people just going off and doing things on their own. I feel certain that the crown prince was involved and that he directed this, and that's why I think we cannot continue to have relations with him,” Paul said.
“So, I think he is going to have to be replaced, frankly, but I think that sanctions don't go far enough. I think we need to look at the arm sale, because this is not just about this journalist being killed, it's about the war in Yemen where tens of thousands of civilians are being killed,” he said.
“It's about them spreading hatred of Christians and Jews and Hindus throughout the world. I mean, thousands and thousands madrassas teaching radical violence against the West. The Saudis have not acted as our friend and they need to change their behavior,” Paul added.
When asked whether he believed the Saudis’ account of what happened to Khashoggi, Paul said, “Absolutely not. I think it's insulting to anyone who's analyzing this with any kind of intelligent background to think that, oh, a fist fight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw.
“So, no, but I think we should put this brazen attack, this brazen murder in context with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has basically over the decades been the largest state sponsor of radical Islam and violent jihad. They sponsor thousands of madrassas that teach hatred of Christians and Jews and Hindus around the world. So, this isn't the first instance. This is just another in the line of long instances of Saudi insults to the civilized world,” he said.
Paul said “it stretches credulity to believe the crown prince wasn't involved in this,” and he thinks “that's the way they're going to write this off.”
“And people in Saudi Arabia ought to be aware when you were told what to do, you go and do it, and then they will execute you and put all the blame on someone else. There's no way 15 people were sent from Saudi Arabia to Turkey to kill a dissident without the approval of the crown prince. And that's why I say we have to be stronger than just saying, oh, we are going to sanction a few of these people and pretend like we're doing something,” he said.
Ken Livingstone: Stop double standards,
sanction Saudis for Yemen war, kidnappings & killings
Ken Livingstone is an
English politician, he served as the Mayor of London between 2000 and 2008. He
is also a former MP and a former member of the Labour Party.
When we remember how rapidly
the US imposed sanctions on Russia over Crimea and the Skripal poisonings, it's
bizarre to watch US President Trump's reaction to the killing of journalist
Khashoggi by the Saudis.
After more than two weeks of
lies and deception, Saudi Arabia has finally admitted journalist Jamal
Khashoggi was killed, but it is clearly another lie when they claim that this
59-year old man died because he got involved in a fist fight with 15 Saudi security
staff and officials.
The scale of media coverage of
this murder has been breathtaking and has done more damage to the reputation of
the Saudi royal family than anything in recent years, but this hasn't stopped
the support of Britain and the US for the Saudi regime.
Britain increased its weapon
sales to the Saudis from £820 million in 2016 to £1.5 billion in 2017 but what
is appalling is that these UK fighter planes and bombs are being used to kill
innocent civilians in Yemen.
Back in August, it was reported that
at least 26 children had been killed in Saudi airstrikes. The United Nations
Humanitarian Office also pointed out that at least four women died in another Saudi
strike just two weeks after 29 children
were killed by a bomb attack on a school bus. At the end of the month, another
Saudi airstrike saw the death of
twenty-two children and four women who were trying to escape the fighting in
The UN said that they and
their partners were doing all they can to reach people and provide assistance.
Ever since, the Saudis provided their support for the attacks on the Shia
community that live in the western part of Yemen. They have also now started
blockading the port of Hodeida. This has cut supplies of food and medicine to
the Shia community which means that Yemen is on the brink of its worst famine
in over a century.
Famine could engulf the
country in the next three months with at least 12 million civilians at risk of starvation,
said the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen.
This civil war has been going
on for three years with thousands of civilians caught in the middle and at
least 10,000 killed and millions displaced. The UN agencies working in Yemen
have condemned the attacks on civilians, but this horror continues. What is
remarkable is how little coverage we have in the world's media about this
horrific civil war compared with the killing of just one journalist in the
Saudi consulate. There is nothing new about the horrors perpetrated by Saudi
Arabia, who for decades have been spreading the extremist Wahhabi version of
When I was the Mayor of
London, British television channel Channel 4 broadcast a documentary series
based on a video footage gathered from an investigation into mosques across the
UK. They covertly filmed preachers and obtained books and DVDs which were
hate-filled invective against Christians and Jews. They presented women as
intellectually deficient and in need of beating if they did not follow the
Islamic dress code. One of the mosques where this was filmed was funded by
Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal, a
Jamaican who had converted and studied at a Saudi university, was caught saying "Jews are rotten
to the core and sexually perverted, creating intrigue and confusion to keep
their enemies weak." He was sentenced to nine years in prison
for urging his audience to kills Jews, Hindus and Americans. One of the young
men he inspired was Germaine Lindsay who was one of the terrorists who set off
four bombs on London Underground trains and a bus in 2005, killing 52 people
and injuring 700.
The majority of Muslims have
always pointed out that these individuals are just a tiny minority of their
community, but concerns are growing about the increased reach of Wahhabism
funded by the Saudis which has now reached three billion dollars a year and has
been spent to build 1,500
mosques, 210 Islamic centres and dozens of Muslim academies and schools.
They have also overwhelmed the
Islamic book market with very cheap but high quality Wahhabi literature which
has had the effect of forcing non-Wahhabi publishers across the Muslim world to
The Saudi regime keeps 85
percent of the student places at the Islamic University of Medina for foreign
students which has led to hundreds of British Muslims returning to the UK
espousing support for the Saudis. The Saudis were also behind the funding of
schools in Pakistan that gave rise to the Taliban.
Police surveillance of
Britain's 1,500 mosques back at that time identified only 68 that could be
clearly acknowledged as promoting Wahhabism.
Clearly there is nothing new
about the killing of Khashoggi, but what is new is the emergence of Mohammed
bin Salman who has now been appointed heir to the Saudi throne in his early
thirties. Immediately there was widespread publicity that he was going to
progressively transform his country by allowing women to drive, reopening
cinemas and restricting the powers of the morality police. He vowed to return
to moderate Islam and curbed the reach of hard-line clerics as well as
modernising the Saudi economy and making it less dependent on oil.
This was all very well
received in the Western press, but little mention was made that he was
responsible for rounding up dozens of intellectuals and activists and critics
from the streets of other countries to bring them back to be imprisoned in
Saudi Arabia is one of only a
handful of absolute monarchies where the monarch controls all power, but the
current monarch of Saudi Arabia has effectively devolved his powers to bin
Salman. Unlike many of the Saudi elite who get a degree from a Western
university, bin Salman stayed in his own country and studied law at King Saud
University. His father is now in his eighties and rumoured to be suffering from
pre-dementia so there is no doubt that the powers are in bin Salman's hands. He
is depicted as impatient and reputed to spend eighteen hours a day on official
business, but many say he cannot accept even the mildest criticism. One
anonymous Saudi source said: "People who tried
to say no, even gently and diplomatically, faced consequences."
His sensitivity was revealed
when a single tweet from Canada, calling on the kingdom to release jailed
activists, prompted him to sever diplomatic and trade ties.
The simple fact is Saudi
Arabia is the principal ally of the US in the Arab world and a huge purchaser
of US weapons. How we can continue to allow these double standards in our
foreign policy is unimaginable, but one of the reasons why the Saudis get away
with it is that they spend so much money influencing our media and our senior
This Saturday, the Guardian exposed the
scale of this infiltration. It listed the millions of pounds British firms have
been earning for improving the image of Saudi Arabia. Some of the firms they
listed included the PR agency Freuds, the Independent for its decision to form
a partnership with a Saudi publisher linked to their government, the online
publisher Vice which has been working on films to promote Saudi Arabia, and a
Saudi publishing company, in partnership with Western media firms, has made
massive donations to Tony Blair's Institute for Global Change. Blair is of
course a well-paid adviser to Saudi Arabia.
The London PR film Consulum is
working on communications programmes with the Saudis and a company, by staff of
former PR firm Bell Pottinger, is advising the Saudis on its communication
I'm sure similar
and most probably much more money is being spent influencing US media, but, if
we want to live in a better and more peaceful world, we have to stand up to the
Saudis and impose sanctions on them until they agree not to just to end their
war in Yemen but stop their kidnappings and killings around the world.
Reports: Saudis Deployed Khashoggi Body Double, Wrapped Body in Rug
CNN obtained surveillance footage from Turkish officials that shows a Saudi operative walking around Istanbul wearing slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes and a fake beard, the news outlet reported on Monday.
According to the Turks, the impostor was Mustafa al-Madani, a member of the team allegedly sent from Saudi Arabia to kill Khashoggi when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Turkish officials who spoke to CNN charged that the Saudis brought Madani, who is about ten years older than the rest of the Saudi team and has a build similar to Khashoggi, to Istanbul specifically to serve as a body double after seizing the target. They said he left the consulate through its back door and made a point of walking to various places in Istanbul where he was certain to be caught on surveillance cameras, such as the famed Blue Mosque.
Madani was also caught on surveillance video entering the consulate four hours earlier, wearing different clothes and without a beard. The only items of his apparel that remained consistent after he departed the building were his shoes, a pair of dark-colored sneakers with white soles.
“Khashoggi’s clothes were probably still warm when Madani put them on,” a senior Turkish official told CNN.
“You don’t need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation. Our assessment has not changed since October 6. This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate,” the official said.
Although unsubstantiated leaks from anonymous Turkish officials have fueled a great deal of the reporting on Khashoggi’s disappearance, in this case, CNN said its reporters were able to see surveillance footage Turkish law enforcement provided and it published a few still photos of Madani walking around Istanbul in Khashoggi’s clothes.
The body double discovery inflicts considerable damage on the already shaky story of Khashoggi’s death provided by the Saudis, who ended two weeks of denying all knowledge of his fate and claiming he left the Istanbul consulate safely by admitting on Friday that he died in the building, but insisting he died in a “fistfight” gone wrong. A Saudi source “close to the royal palace” elaborated to CNN that Khashoggi supposedly died in a “chokehold” while security forces struggled to subdue the rambunctious unarmed 59-year-old.
Turkish media published a claim Sunday, citing an alleged senior Saudi official, that the Saudis rolled Khashoggi’s body up in a rug and gave it to a “local cooperator” for disposal. This account would be consistent with reports of Turkish police searching a forest near Istanbul and a farm 60 miles away for his remains.
Turkish investigators on Monday inspected an underground parking lot in Istanbul where they discovered a seemingly abandoned vehicle from the Saudi consulate. The police have inspected a number of consular vehicles looking for evidence they were used to transport Khashoggi’s body.
A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said on Monday the killing of Khashoggi was a “complicated” assassination that was “monstrously planned.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that the investigation will continue until the details are revealed in all their “naked truth.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday told Bret Baier of Fox News the killing was a “rogue operation” where “individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had.”
“They made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it,” Jubeir said, implying that misinformation pouring from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul was intended to deceive Riyadh as much as the rest of the world. He insisted the killers have no connection to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Jubeir offered condolences to Khashoggi’s family during his Fox News interview, as did the crown prince and King Salman bin Abdulaziz in a phone call to Khashoggi’s son Salah on Sunday.
Seven Facts About Jamal Khashoggi’s Life, Writing, and Politics
Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi became a
figure of global importance when he disappeared on October 2 after visiting the
Saudi consulate in Istanbul, leading to allegations that agents from Saudi
Arabia lured him to the consulate so they could murder him.
Khashoggi has a long career as
both a writer and political activist, but accounts of his disappearance usually
refer to him as simply a “journalist.” Following are some details of his
was a Saudi national and lawful permanent resident of the U.S.: He was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia, 59 years ago and was educated in
Saudi Arabia before traveling to the United States and earning a bachelor’s
degree in business administration from Indiana State University.
According to an article his
Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz wrote for the Washington Post a week after his
disappearance, he recently spent a year in “self-imposed exile in the United
States” and planned to divide his time between Washington and Istanbul while he
worked on his career as a writer. Cengiz said Khashoggi had applied for full
U.S. citizenship. At the time of his disappearance, he was a lawful permanent
resident of the United States — in more common parlance, he had a “green card.”
some famous relatives and big connections in the Saudi elite: Jamal Khashoggi’s uncle was
Adnan Khashoggi, the arms dealer of Iran-Contra fame, who diedin 2017 at the age of 81. Adnan
Khashoggi was, at one point, the personal physician to the first monarch of the
modern Saudi line, King Ibn Saud. At the height of his fame, he was widely but
incorrectly hailed as the “richest man in the world.”
cousin Dodi al-Fayed became posthumously famous as the boyfriend of England’s Princess
Diana, dying along with her in a car crash in 1997.
Khashoggi was at one time a
supporter of the Saudi royal family. According to the UK Independent, last
year he looked up a Saudi expatriate who had been his anti-regime sparring
partner on numerous talking-head shows and said he was wrong to have defended
the monarchy for so long.
In his younger days,
Khashoggi traveled with then-King Abdullah, befriended billionaire investment
mogul Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and worked as an adviser for Prince Turki
al-Faisal, who served as head of Saudi intelligence and ambassador to the
United States and the United Kingdom. Prince Alwaleed was among the
highest-profile Saudi royals detainedin a hotel during Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on corruption and/or consolidation of power in
long experience in media: Khashoggi wrote for numerous publications in Saudi Arabia and the
Middle East, including the Saudi Gazette. He held some of
these positions while largely supportive of the government in Riyadh and others
after he became critical of the leadership.
In 2003, he became editor of a
reform-minded Saudi paper called Al Watan, which fired him only two months later because he published articles and
cartoons critical of senior clerics, who complained to the Interior Ministry
that he was undermining their authority. He returned to Al Watan in
2007 and served as editor for three years, and he resigned after publishing an
opinion piece critical of fundamentalist Salafi Islam.
In 2015, after five years of
planning with Prince Alwaleed, Khashoggi launched the independent Al-Arab News
Channel from Bahrain. It lasted less than 24 hours before the Bahraini
monarchy shut it down supposedly because the network violated Gulf
Cooperation Council media guidelines by airing an interview with an opposition
leader. The Al-Arab News Channel eventually resumed operations but was shut
down permanently in early 2017.
Khashoggi has been a regular
contributor to the Global Opinions section of the Washington Post since
interviewed and traveled with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan: The interview that made
Khashoggi’s career was with Osama bin Laden, who personally invitedthe young journalist to cover
resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
The nature of Khashoggi’s
relationship with bin Laden is one of the most hotly debated aspects of his
complex past. Khashoggi’s admirers say he was simply covering an important
leader in a resistance movement against Soviet imperialism that was, after all,
supported by the United States, and he was disgusted with bin Laden for
mutating the successful mujahideen resistance against the
Russians into the worldwide horror of al-Qaeda.
Khashoggi is said to have
pleaded with bin Laden to turn away from terrorism in the 1990s and, in 2002,
described the 9/11 atrocity as an attack on “the values of tolerance and
coexistence that Islam preaches,” as well as an attack on the World Trade
Center and Pentagon.
“I collapsed crying a while
ago, heartbroken for you,” he wrote to the spirit of Osama bin Laden after the latter was killed
in 2011 by U.S. special forces. “You were beautiful and brave in those
beautiful days in Afghanistan before you surrendered to hatred and passion.”
Khashoggi’s critics see him as either star-struck by the mystique of the Afghan
resistance fighters or much too comfortable with the Islamist goals of
al-Qaeda, breaking with bin Laden primarily because he thought the terrorist
leader’s approach was too aggressive. Khashoggi did not fly out to Afghanistan
for a quick interview with bin Laden; he spent a great deal of time with the
founders of al-Qaeda and could not plausibly have been blind to their emerging
He was a
member of the Muslim Brotherhood and supports Hamas: A great deal of the
increasingly partisan argument in the U.S. over Khashoggi’s past boils down to
how much credit to give him for apparently changing his mind about people like
Osama bin Laden and organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood.
He unquestionably saw himself as a member of the Brotherhood in his youth; it
was one of the reasons he secured the bin Laden interview. The friendly
interpretation of his history is that he and the Muslim Brotherhood both
changed over time.
Although left-wingers are treating mentions of Khashoggi’s past with the Brotherhood as a
“smear” or “hate crime,” Khashoggi himself wrote in defense of the
organization only a few months ago. He said the U.S. has an unhealthy and
irrational “aversion” to the Muslim Brotherhood, which he portrayed as the true
force of democracy in the Arab world and the only antidote to “authoritarian
and corrupt regimes.”
Khashoggi castigated the United
States for accepting the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed
Morsi in Egypt and strongly supported “political Islam,” which he saw the
Brotherhood as embodying. In his view, authoritarian regimes desperate to
stifle democracy prodded American policymakers into opposing the Muslim
Brotherhood, allowing them to retain their power and keep corrupt income
“There can be no political
reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam
is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country
will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is
allowed,” he wrote.
In recent years, Khashoggi has
allegedly supported the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, presenting its
cause as a battle against sinister Israel that all Arabs are obliged to
The New York Timesadmitted in a largely admiring October 14 profile that Khashoggi’s
relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood at the time of his disappearance was
“ambiguous.” The overall tenor of the profile was that support for “political
Islam” is not inherently unreasonable and Khashoggi spent the latter decades of
his life making a strong effort to avoid extremism. The term almost invariably
used to describe his beliefs by those favorably disposed to him is
To simplify them somewhat, he
believed in Islamic political supremacy and thought only a properly managed
religious government could be honest, but he appeared aware his preferred
political model could easily slip into the hands of extremists. He was inclined
to support the legitimacy of governments that allowed democratic
representation, even if their duly-enacted policies were repressive by Western
standards, and challenge the legitimacy of those which did not — a comparison
most clear in his writings about Egypt and his native Saudi Arabia.
He was an
implacable critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS): Khashoggi’s last few years were
dominated by his antipathy to the government of Saudi Arabia after Mohammed bin
Salman was elevated to Crown Prince.
His work with Prince Turki
al-Faisal and closeness to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal aligned him with a faction
of the royal family he saw as moderates. They lost power and influence with
Crown Prince Mohammed’s rise.
Among other complaints, he saw
the already tenuous freedom of the press in Saudi Arabia disintegrating almost
completely when MBS took power and left Saudi Arabia in 2017 for his safety. “I
was under the risk of either being banned from travel, which would be
suffocating, or being physically arrested, just like many of my colleagues,”
he told the Colombia Journalism Reviewin March.
Khashoggi saw MBS as paranoid,
obsessed with eliminating all challenges to his power, and more authoritarian
than imposing an ambitious reform agenda on traditionalist Saudi Arabia could
possibly require. As he noted to the Colombia Journalism Review, he
was a longtime supporter of many of the reforms MBS implemented and had been
fired on more than one occasion for advocating them.
was especially critical of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Yemen and the
strange treatment of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was effectively
summoned to Saudi Arabia, imprisoned, and forced to resign, precipitating a
regional political crisis. Khashoggi was highly skeptical of the Trump
administration’s embrace of the crown prince and has said he was “ordered silent” by the Saudi monarchy after
criticizing President-Elect Donald Trump shortly after the 2016 election.
politically active: Some of the objections to classifying Khashoggi as simply a
“journalist” concern his ongoing political activism. The Saudi ambassador to
the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said last week that Khashoggi retained many active contacts in
the Kingdom and was still in regular contact with him personally. Prince
Khalid returned to Saudi Arabia shortly after those remarks and evidently
will not return to his post in Washington.
At the time of his
disappearance, Khashoggi was working on launching a non-governmental
organization called Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN). The Daily
Beastdescribed this group’s charter as an expression of Khashoggi’s
Islamist philosophy, offering “a counter-narrative in the Arab world and the
West to Arab Spring skeptics” and endorsing free elections even if they “result
in some governments that are less favorable to U.S. interests.”
Post was said to be aware Khashoggi was raising funds for this group
and intended to serve as its leader and was confident he would be fully
“transparent with readers about these efforts as they progressed.”
Former Wall Street
Journalpublisher Karen Elliott House speculated DAWN was the reason Saudi
agents may have taken action against Khashoggi, perceiving the organization as
“funded by Saudi regional rivals” and essentially pushing a Muslim Brotherhood
vision of the Arab Spring inimical to the Saudi government.
“Democracy is currently being
slaughtered everywhere. He wanted to alert Western public opinion to the
dangers of remaining silent in the face of the assassination of democracy. The
Muslim Brothers and Islamists were the biggest victims of the foiled Arab
spring,” Khashoggi’s friend Azzam Tamimi told the Associated Press last week.
Tamimi said he and Khashoggi
created a similar organization in 1992 called Friends of Democracy in Algeria,
intended to push back against the government of that country after it nullified
an “imminent Islamist victory” in an election.
The Associated Press forgot to
mention that the thwarted Islamists in that election went on a massive
killing spree that left the streets filled with bloody corpses. The goal of the Islamic Salvation
Front was to turn Algeria into a fundamentalist Islamic republic. Its
descendant organization, the Islamic Salvation Army, is allied with al-Qaeda in
Conclusion: The problem with taking the
full measure of Jamal Khashoggi’s writing and political careers is
that everything in the Middle East is “complicated.” Idealistic
organizations are often linked to brutal extremist groups and aspiring
fundamentalist tyrants, with the strength of those links hotly debated by
observers within and beyond the region.
The dimmest view of Khashoggi’s
history is that he was a public-relations man for the Muslim Brotherhood and
perhaps even al-Qaeda; the brightest view is that he truly believed democracy
was more important than almost anything else to Arab nations, the necessary
precursor to all other benevolent reforms, and stable democracy in the Middle
East is impossible without making room for political Islam.
Khashoggi’s view of the Arab
Spring and his plans for a political organization are the mirror image of the
theory that authoritarian means, as practiced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman, must be employed to impose liberal reforms on Islamist countries in
order to create the cultural conditions necessary for democracy to flourish. If
Khashoggi has been murdered, his death will be the latest bloody milestone in
an ideological battle that is far from over.
Obama veto of bill allowing 9/11 lawsuits
By Tom Carter
30 September 2016
On Wednesday, the US
Congress overturned President Obama’s veto of legislation that would permit
victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks and their families to sue Saudi
Arabia. Declassified documents released this year confirm the involvement of
Saudi intelligence agents in the funding, organization, and planning of the
attacks—facts which were covered up for years by the Bush and Obama
The vote, 97-1 in the Senate and 348-77 in the House of
Representatives, represents the first and only congressional override of
Obama’s presidency. Under the US Constitution, the president’s veto can be
overturned only by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress.
The Obama administration and the military and intelligence
agencies, backed by sections of the media, including the New York Times, have
vigorously denounced the legislation. Obama personally, together with Central
Intelligence Agency director John Brennan, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford among others, have all
publicly opposed the bill.
In a letter to Congress opposing the legislation, Obama
warned that the bill would “threaten to erode sovereign principles that protect
the United States, including our U.S. Armed Forces and other officials,
In a lead editorial on Wednesday, the New York Times
similarly warned that “if the bill becomes law, other countries could adopt
similar legislation defining their own exemptions to sovereign immunity.
Because no country is more engaged in the world than the United States—with
military bases, drone operations, intelligence missions and training
programs—the Obama administration fears that Americans could be subject to
legal actions abroad.”
In other words, the bill would set a precedent for families
of victims of American aggression abroad—such as the tens of thousands of
victims of “targeted killings” ordered by Obama personally—to file lawsuits
against US war criminal in their own countries’ courts.
Obama denounced the vote with unusual warmth on Wednesday.
“It's an example of why sometimes you have to do what's hard. And, frankly, I
wish Congress here had done what's hard,” Obama declared. “If you’re perceived
as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that's
a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do
... And it was, you know, basically a political vote.”
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” Sir Walter Scott famously
wrote, “When first we practice to deceive!” As the tangled web of lies
surrounding the September 11 attacks continue to unravel, one senses that the
American ruling class and its representatives do not see a clear way out of the
Openly torpedoing the legislation is tantamount to an
admission of guilt. Indeed, the Obama administration, the military and
intelligence agencies, and theNew York Times are publicly working to cover up a
crime perpetrated by Al Qaeda and its backers in Saudi Arabia, which in turn is
an ally of the United States. The mere fact that Obama vetoed this bill
constitutes an admission that the US government is hiding something with
respect to the September 11 attacks.
The alternative, from the standpoint of the American ruling
class, is also fraught with risks. Court proceedings initiated by the families
of September 11 victims will inevitably expose the role played by the Saudi
monarchy, an ally of both Al Qaeda and the United States, in the September 11
attacks. This, in turn, will highlight long and sordid history of American
support for Islamic fundamentalism in the
Middle East, which continues to the present day in Syria and
Perhaps most dangerously of all, a full public accounting of the roles of Saudi intelligence agents in the
September 11 attacks will once again
raise questions about the role of the American state in the attacks. Why did US
agencies ignore the activities of Saudi agents before the
attacks, based on Saudi Arabia’s supposed status as a US ally?
Why did the US government deliberately cover up the Saudi
connection after the fact, instead claiming that Afghanistan was a “state
sponsor of terrorism” and that Iraq was developing “weapons of mass
destruction?” Why was nobody
The New York Times, for its part, simply lied about the
evidence of Saudi complicity. “The legislation is motivated by a belief among
the 9/11 families that Saudi Arabia played a role in the attacks, because 15 of
the 19 hijackers, who were members of Al Qaeda, were Saudis,” the editors
wrote. “But the independent American commission that investigated the attacks
found no evidence that the Saudi government or senior Saudi officials financed
In fact, at least two of the hijackers received aid from Omar
al-Bayoumi, who was identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a
Saudi intelligence agent with “ties to terrorist elements.” Some of the
hijackers were paid for work in fictitious jobs from companies affiliated with
the Saudi Defense Ministry, with which Al-Bayoumi was in close contact. The
night before the attacks, three of the hijackers stayed at the same hotel as
Saleh al-Hussayen, a prominent Saudi government official.
These and other facts were confirmed by the infamous 28-page
suppressed chapter of the 2002 report issued by the Joint Inquiry into
Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of
September 11, 2001. After 14 years of stalling, the document was finally
released to the public this summer.
Yet the New York Times
continues to describe the Saudi monarchy, the principal financier and sponsor
of Islamic fundamentalist groups throughout the world, as “a partner in
The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, passed
Wednesday, is a direct reaction to these revelations of Saudi complicity in the
September 11 attacks, under pressure from organizations of survivors and
families of victims. The law amends the federal judicial code to allow US
courts “to hear cases involving claims against a foreign state for injuries,
death, or damages that occur inside the United States as a result of. .. an act
of terrorism, committed anywhere by a foreign state or official.”
Although the bill
nowhere names Saudi Arabia, the Saudi government has
retaliation, including by moving $750 billion in assets out of the country before they can be seized in
American legal proceedings. This
reaction alone confirms
the monarchy’s guilt.
During Wednesday’s session, many of the statements on the
floor of the Senate were nervous and apprehensive. Casting his vote in favor of
the bill, Republican Senator Bob Corker declared, “I have tremendous concerns
about the sovereign immunity procedures that would be set in place by the countries
as a result of this vote.” More than one legislator noted that if the bill had
unintended consequences, it would be modified or repealed.
The anxious comments of legislators and the crisscrossing
denunciations within the ruling elite reflect the significance of this
controversy for the entire American political establishment. For 15 years, the
American population has been relentlessly told that the events of September 11,
2001 “changed everything,” warranting the elimination of democratic rights, the
militarization of the police, renditions, torture, assassinations, totalitarian
levels of spying, death and destruction across the Middle East, and trillions
of dollars of expenditures.
The collapse of the official version of that day’s events
shows that American politics for 15 years has been based on a lie.
HILLARY CLINTON'S VERY PROFITABLE
CONNECTION TO THE SAUDI TERRORIST DICTATORSHIP
Can America Ultimately Survive the Crimes of Bush, Clinton and
WAVE THAT IS THE BU$H FAMILY STARTED TWO WARS AGAINST IRAQ ON BEHALF OF THEIR
The perilous ramifications of the September 11 attacks on the
United States are only now beginning to unfold. They will undoubtedly be felt
for generations to come. This is one of many sad conclusions readers will draw
from Craig Unger's exceptional book House of Bush House of
Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. As Unger claims
in this incisive study, the seeds for the "Age of Terrorism" and
September 11 were planted nearly 30 years ago in what, at the time, appeared to
be savvy business transactions that subsequently translated into political
currency and the union between the Saudi royal family and the extended
political family of George H. W. Bush. On the surface, the claim may appear to
be politically driven, but as Unger (a respected investigative journalist and
editor) probes--with scores of documents and sources--the political tenor of
the U.S. over the last 30 years, the Iran-Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, the
birth of Al Qaeda, the dubious connection between members of the Saudi Royal family
and the exportation of terror, and the personal fortunes amassed by the Bush
family from companies such as Harken Energy and the Carlyle Group, he exposes
the "brilliantly hidden agendas and purposefully murky corporate
relationships" between these astonishingly powerful families.His evidence is
persuasive and reveals a devastating story of Orwellian proportions, replete
with political deception, shifting allegiances, and lethal global consequences.
Unger begins his book with the remarkable story of the repatriation of 140
Saudis directly following the September 11 attacks. He ends where Richard A. Clarkebegins, questioning the
efficacy of the war in Iraq in the battle against terrorism. We are
unquestionably facing a global security crisis unlike any before. President
Bush insists that we will prevail, yet as Unger so effectively concludes,
"Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign
power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies." --Silvana
Tropea--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition
of this title.
ENDLESS WARS HAVE COST US BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND THOUSANDS OF LIVES.... all
because Saddam gave the middle finger to the filthy Saudis!
IT WAS THE
SAUDIS THAT INVADED US 9-11 AND ARE THE GLOBAL FINANCIERS OF TERRORISM. IT IS
THE BUSH PRESIDENTS, HILLARY AND BILLARY and their little Muslim Obama THAT
SHOULD BE TRIED AS TRAITORS FOR DEFENDING A DICTATORSHIP THAT IS ANTI-JEWISH,
ANTI-CHRISTIAN and ANTI-AMERICAN!
FUND AMERICAN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARIES WITH BRIBES IF THE SAUDIS ARE EXECUTED?
WHO WILL PUMP MILLIONS INTO THE PHONY CLINTON FOUNDATION IF THE FILTHY SAUDIS
AT WHOSE FEET WILL BARACK OBAMA KNEEL AND KISS IF HIS PAYMASTERS, THE FILTHY
SAUDIS GO UNDER?
FBI holds 80,000 pages
of secret documents on Saudi-9/11 links
14 May 2016
The American FBI has a
secret cache of documents, more than 80,000 pages in all, concerning possible
ties between the 9/11 hijackers and an upper-class Saudi family who lived in
Florida and fled the United States two weeks before the suicide hijackings that
killed nearly 3,000 people.
A federal judge in Tampa, Florida has been reviewing the documents for more
than two years as a consequence of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought
by a trio of online reporters—Anthony Summers, Robbyn Swan and Dan Christensen.
The review process has been extremely slow because of restrictive FBI rules on
how many pages Judge William Zloch may access at any one time.
The existence of the document trove was revealed Friday in a front-page article
in the US-based web publication the Daily Beast. The article
identified the Saudi family as Abdulaziz al-Hijji and his wife Anoud, who was
the daughter of Esam Ghazzawi, an adviser to a nephew of Saudi King Fahd.
Ghazzawi owned the home in which they were staying in a gated community in
Sarasota, Florida. The home was raided by the FBI after 9/11 but the residents
had all departed in evident haste on August 30, 2001.
Visitor logs in the community, known as Prestancia, showed that the alleged
ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, Mohammad Atta, had visited al-Hijji, along
with two other 9/11 hijackers, Ziad Jarrah and Marwan Al-Shehhi.
Former Senator Robert Graham, co-chair of the joint congressional committee
that investigated the 9/11 attacks, told the Daily Beast that
he had never known of the FBI documents on the Saratoga home until they were
uncovered by the investigative journalists. He later viewed a portion of these
records and confirmed that they identified the three 9/11 hijackers as
Throughout this period, the FBI had denied that the al-Hijji family had any
connection to the 9/11 attackers. The agency changed its story only when Graham
said he would testify under oath about what he had read in the file of
documents. At this point the FBI conceded the existence of 35 pages of
When Judge Zloch ordered a further search for records, the Tampa office of the
FBI came back with 80,226 pages of files marked PENTTBOM, which stands for
“Pentagon/Twin-Towers Bombing” in FBI jargon. Judge Zloch has been reviewing
these since May 1, 2014 and has given no date by which he expects to finish.
The al-Hijji family exited its Sarasota home, leaving behind three cars, an
open safe and disarray that suggested a hasty departure. The security guards at
the gated community noted their departure, but did not consider it suspicious
until the 9/11 attacks two weeks later.
The FBI initially made only a perfunctory response and did not open a formal
investigation until eight months later, in April 2002, “based upon repeated
citizen calls” about the conduct of the family during their stay in the United
States. One of the few documents released said that this investigation
“revealed many connections” between a member of the family “and individuals
associated with the terrorist attacks.”
The Daily Beast report adds to recent revelations of
evidence of Saudi regime ties to the 9/11 hijackers that has been covered up by
the US government under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
Graham has actively campaigned for the release of 28 pages of material on the
Saudi-9/11 connection comprising an entire chapter of the joint congressional
committee report on the 9/11 attacks in which he participated. This material
has been withheld for more than 13 years. On April 10, Graham was the main
witness interviewed by the CBS program “60 Minutes” in a segment on the
continuing cover-up of Saudi-9/11 connections.
In an op-ed column this week in the Washington Post, Graham
reiterated his demand for release of the 28 pages, noting that President Obama
had promised a decision on declassifying the material by next month. Graham
denounced CIA Director John Brennan, who responded to the “60 Minutes” program
by publicly opposing any release of the 28 pages.
Also Friday, the Guardian newspaper published an interview
with a former member of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission appointed by President
George W. Bush, who flatly declared that there was extensive Saudi involvement
in supporting the hijackers. Of the 19 perpetrators, 15 were Saudi citizens,
most of them having recently arrived in the United States when they seized
control of four jetliners on September 11, 2001.
Former Navy Secretary John Lehman, a Republican, told the newspaper: “There was
an awful lot of participation by Saudi individuals in supporting the hijackers,
and some of those people worked in the Saudi government.” While only one Saudi
consular official in Los Angeles, Fahad al-Thumairy, was implicated in supporting
the hijackers, according to the official account, Lehman believes that at least
five officials were involved.
Al-Thumairy was linked to the two hijackers who lived in San Diego before the
9/11 attacks, Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, but he was deported rather
than charged with a crime. The other five, whom Lehman did not name, “may not
have been indicted, but they were certainly implicated. There was an awful lot
of circumstantial evidence.”
Another former 9/11 commissioner, who spoke to the Guardian without
direct attribution, recounted what the newspaper called “a mostly unknown
chapter of the history of the 9/11 commission: behind closed doors, members of
the panel’s staff fiercely protested the way the material about the Saudis was
presented in the final report, saying it underplayed or ignored evidence that
Saudi officials—especially at lower levels of the government—were part of an
al-Qaida support network that had been tasked to assist the hijackers after
they arrived in the US.”
The 9/11 Commission director, Philip Zelikow, who later served in the Bush
administration as senior counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
fired one staffer who protested over the suppression of the Saudi ties to 9/11
after she obtained a copy of the suppressed 28 pages of the joint congressional
committee report. Zelikow and the commission members overruled staff protests
on the soft-pedaling of the Saudi connection.
These press reports confirm what the World Socialist Web Site has
long maintained: the official 9/11 investigations were a series of whitewashes
aimed at concealing the role of the Saudi government and US intelligence
agencies during the period leading up to the terrorist attacks.
There has long been evidence that sections of the US government were aware of
the plot to hijack and suicide-crash airliners, but turned a blind eye because
such an atrocity could be used to stampede American public opinion and provide
a pretext for escalating US military interventions throughout the Middle East
and Central Asia.
Saudi Arabian regime gripped by factional infighting amid
mounting economic crisis
By Jean Shaoul
13 May 2016
The ruling House of Saud, issued a
series of royal decrees unceremoniously dumping its longstanding oil minister
Ali al-Naimi, central bank governor Fahad al-Mubarak, and other senior
The wide-ranging shakeup of
government bodies is part of an attempt to resolve the Kingdom’s growing
economic crisis at the expense of the Saudi masses.
The sackings follow the removal last
month of Abdullah al-Hasin, the water and electricity minister, in a bid to
deflect popular anger over high water rates and new rules over the digging of
wells and cuts in energy subsidies aimed at saving the ruling family
collectively in excess of one and a half trillion dollars.
The shake-up is intended to
concentrate power in the clique around Crown Prince Mohammed, the 30-year-old
son of the aging King Salman. It will further exacerbate the enormous
political, economic and social tensions wracking this semi-feudal regime that
has, since 1945, constituted an essential prop for US imperialist policy in the
region and a bulwark of reaction and repression in the Arab world.
The Saudi monarchy, threatened by the
revolutionary overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the subsequent
political turmoil that threatened almost every regime in the region, moved
rapidly to topple the elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government of President
Mohammed Mursi, even at the risk of conflicting with Washington, and helped
install and bankroll the brutal military dictator Abdul Fatah el-Sisi to
suppress the Egyptian masses.
It sought—at the cost of tens of
billions of dollars—to move against the Syrian regime of President Bashir
al-Assad in Syria by funding an Islamist insurgency, and to shore up the rule
of its regional allies in Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan. Accompanying its moves in
Syria, it sought to undermine pro-Iranian governments in Iraq and Lebanon,
through direct or covert military interventions, the use of Islamist fighters
as proxies, or economic aid.
Its relations with its chief backer,
US imperialism, are now at an all-time low. Riyadh was furious over
Washington’s failure to sustain its support for Mubarak against the Egyptian
masses in 2011.
The US-led interventions in Iraq and
Syria to assert Washington’s hegemony over the Middle East’s vast energy
resources have destabilised Saudi Arabia’s neighbours. Washington’s various
pragmatic manoeuvres, its failure to intervene decisively in the war to overthrow
Assad in Syria allowing Russia to intervene to shore up the regime, its deal
with Iran and support for the Shi’ite government in Iraq, helped strengthened
the influence of Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival, Tehran.
At home, Riyadh attempted to assuage
popular opposition and protests in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province with a
combination of violent suppression and a $350 billion package of benefits and
social spending, a lifeline for the estimated 28 percent of the population who
live in poverty. Between 2 million and 4 million Saudi citizens are believed to
be living on less than $530 a month. With its thousands of princes, the
parasitic Saudi monarchy deprives its citizens of basic democratic rights It
has sought to ruthlessly suppress public discussion of social inequality,
imprisoning bloggers who dare to raise such issues or criticise the regime.
This attempt at repression is being
undermined by the precipitous fall in oil prices, the result of the Saudis’
political decision to maintain output in an attempt to undermine Russia and
Iran. This has led to a $100 billion government deficit in 2015 (15 per cent of
GDP). The new oil minister Khalid al-Falih is not expected to rein in oil
production and thus boost oil prices because this would also boost the revenues
of Saudi Arabia’s rivals.
With 70 percent of its revenue
dependent on oil, the government has cut public spending for 2016 by 25
percent, slashing subsidies on fuel, power and water, with gas prices set to
increase by 80 percent. It took the unprecedented step of introducing a tax on
Saudi nationals—a 5 percent value added tax—in a bid to prevent the budget
deficit soaring to $140 billion and to conserve its $600 billion in reserves.
Riyadh’s sponsorship of Islamist
forces has led to the advance of ISIS, al-Qaeda and similar outfits with their
own agendas in Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula. ISIS cells have launched
dozens of attacks over the last two years and were alleged to have been behind
a spate of bombings targeting the Kingdom’s Shia minority.
Last week, Saudi forces carried out
an operation against ISIS in Mecca, killing four “wanted” men in a shootout,
and another in the southwestern province of Bisha, killing two ISIS suspects
and injuring another. It followed the arrest of Ukab Atibi, allegedly a member
of the ISIS cell that carried out a suicide attack on a mosque used by members
of a local security force in southwest Saudi Arabia in August 2015. Security
forces carried out another raid on a house in Jeddah, arresting two suspects.
The ruling clique is torn with
dissent over the succession to the ailing King Salmon, who promoted his
30-year-old son Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the positions of deputy crown
prince and minister of defence in charge of the murderous, but largely unsuccessful
war in Yemen, sidelining other older claimants to the throne. Mohammed has
overturned the Kingdom’s decades-long policy of buying political quiescence
with a social contract that has provided some security—via low utility prices,
social subventions and public sector jobs—for the Saudi population, and
promoted a wave of Sunni-based Saudi nationalism.
Last month, in an announcement that
the Economist described as “manic optimism,” Mohammed
unveiled his Vision 2030, drawn up by the McKinsey & Company global
consultants McKinsey and aimed at ending the Kingdom’s dependence on oil by
2030. He later declared on Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel an end to
“any dependence on oil” by 2020. The measures include the public listing of 5
percent of Aramco, the world’s largest oil company valued at $2.5 trillion, the
creation of a sovereign wealth fund with a potential value of $2 trillion to
invest in assets, the development of non-oil industries, including a domestic
arms industry; more private sector jobs and a new visa system to allow
expatriate Muslims and Arabs to work long-term in Saudi Arabia.
Symptomatic of the insoluble
contradictions of the Saudi economy was the announcement last week that one of
the largest companies, the construction giant the Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG)
that has built most of the country’s public buildings, was unable to pay its
SBG fired 77,000 of its 200,000
workforce and issued them with exit visas. Immigrant workers, angry that they
had not been paid for months, have held daily protests outside SBG’s offices,
burnt company buses in Mecca and refused to leave the country until they are
paid. The company also dismissed 12,000 of its 17,000 Saudi managerial and
professional staff, calling on them to resign or wait for their wages and a
two-month bonus worth $220 million.
With $30 billion in debts, SBG’s
financial problems stem from the cutbacks in government spending and the crane
collapse on a major expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca last year that
killed 107 workers and pilgrims. It prompted an investigation of its government
projects, many of which were reportedly being carried out without any signed
contracts. The company was hit with a withholding of government payments and a
ban on SBG tendering for further public building projects.
The impending collapse of SBG
provoked such a crisis that the government agreed to allow it to bid for state
contracts, said it would ensure that government payments would continue and
urged other companies to honour their commitments and pay up on their contracts
and controversial - an award-winning investigative journalist uncovers the
thirty-year relationship between the Bush family and the House of Saud and
explains its impact on American foreign policy, business, and national
security. House of Bush, House of Saud begins with a politically explosive
question: How is it that two days after 9/11, when U.S. air traffic was tightly
restricted, 140 Saudis, many immediate kin to Osama Bin Laden, were permitted
to leave the country without being questioned by U.S. intelligence? The answer
lies in a hidden relationship that began in the 1970s, when the oil-rich House
of Saud began courting American politicians in a bid for military protection,
influence, and investment opportunity. With the Bush family, the Saudis hit a
gusher - direct access to presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W.Bush. To trace the
amazing weave of Saud- Bush connections, Unger interviewed three former
directors of the CIA, top Saudi and Israeli intelligence officials, and more
than one hundred other sources. His access to major players is unparalleled and
often exclusive - including executives at the Carlyle Group, the
giant investment firm where
of Bush and the House of Saud each
Like Bob Woodward's The Veil, Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud features
unprecedented reportage; like Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? Unger's
book offers a political counter-narrative to official explanations; this deeply
sourced account has already been cited by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and
Charles Schumer, and sets 9/11, the two Gulf Wars, and the ongoing Middle East
crisis in a new context: What really happened when America's most powerful
political family became seduced The
perilous ramifications of the September 11 attacks on the United States are
only now beginning to unfold. They will undoubtedly be felt for generations to
come. This is one of many sad conclusions readers will draw from Craig Unger's
exceptional book House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship
Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. As Unger claims in this
incisive study, the seeds for the "Age of Terrorism" and September 11
were planted nearly 30 years ago in what, at the time, appeared to be savvy
business transactions that subsequently translated into political currency and
the union between the Saudi royal family and the extended political family of
George H. W. Bush. On the surface, the claim may appear to be politically
driven, but as Unger (a respected investigative journalist and editor)
probes--with scores of documents and sources--the political tenor of the U.S.
over the last 30 years, the Iran-Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, the birth of
Al Qaeda, the dubious connection between members of the Saudi Royal family and
the exportation of terror, and the personal fortunes amassed by the Bush family
from companies such as Harken Energy and the Carlyle Group, he exposes the
"brilliantly hidden agendas and purposefully murky corporate
relationships" between these astonishingly powerful families. His evidence
is persuasive and reveals a devastating story of Orwellian proportions, replete
with political deception, shifting allegiances, and lethal global consequences.
Unger begins his book with the remarkable story of the repatriation of 140
Saudis directly following the September 11 attacks. He ends where Richard A. Clarke begins,
questioning the efficacy of the war in Iraq in the battle against terrorism. We
are unquestionably facing a global security crisis unlike any before. President
Bush insists that we will prevail, yet as Unger so effectively concludes,
"Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign
power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies." --Silvana
Tropea--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition
of this title.
Jamal Khashoggi, a
well-known Saudi journalist, went to the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on
October 2 to fill out some paperwork pertaining to his marriage — he was in the
process of divorcing his Saudi wife so that he might then marry his
Turkish fiancé. He entered the building at 1:14 p..m., and has not been
seen since. His fiancé had been waiting outside the consulate for what was
supposed to have been a short visit; when he failed to appear, the police
were summoned. The Saudis at the consulate claimed not to know what had
happened to Khashoggi. From Riyadh, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman insisted
that Khashoggi left soon after visiting the consulate. King Salman assured
President Trump that his government had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s
disappearance. Now the Saudis have decided to tell their latest version of the
truth. They claim that Khashoggi died during an “interrogation
On that same day, October
2, fifteen Saudis arrived in Istanbul in the morning, and departed, on two
different flights, the same evening. Or at least that’s the story. There are
videotapes of Saudis arriving at the airport, but to complicate matters, it
seems that some of those videotapes are five years old. Meanwhile, the Turks
claim to have proof that Khashoggi was killed inside the Embassy. They say they
have tapes on which the alleged audio evidence is particularly strong,
according to officials.
“You can hear his voice
and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” a source told the Washington Post. “You
can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” CCTV cameras
provide videotapes of a black van that left the Saudi Consulate that afternoon
and went to the home of the Saudi Consul General. The Turks initially claimed
the body was dismembered with a bone saw; among the Saudis who arrived that day
was an autopsy expert well-versed in such dismemberment. The world media is of
course titillated by the story: what did they then do with the pieces? Burn
them, so that nothing was left but ashes and bone? Would the ashes have been
flushed down the toilet? Would the pieces of bone have been cut up into ever
smaller pieces that, divvied up among the 15 Saudis, could be disposed of
discreetly around Istanbul or even at the airport, or packed in diplomatic
pouches and flown to Saudi Arabia? Or did they bury the body in the garden of
the Consul General? No one yet knows, but the “Pulp Fiction” and “Goodfellas”
aspect of all this is riveting.
But let’s get back to
what this killing demonstrates. It demonstrates that Saudi Arabia has only
contempt for the outside world, and no intention of changing its brutal ways no
matter what others think. All sorts of Western big shots have now pulled out of the
“Davos in the Desert” three-day economic summit to be held in Saudi Arabia in
early November. Among them are Richard Branson, the CEO’s of Viacom and Uber,
the heads of JP Morgan, Blackstone, BlackRock, the owner of the Los Angeles
Times, the creator of the Android Mobile Device, the creator of Crispr, and
many others. This will have little effect on the Saudis. If Western companies
want to engage in virtue-signaling, and lose billions in investments, both in
and from Saudi Arabia, the Crown Prince can live with that. Besides, there is
always China, ready to sell weapons to the Saudis (as Trump has noted), and to
make, and receive, Saudi investments.
The killing may,
however, have a salutary effect on the American government’s view of Saudi
Arabia. The Saudis were largely protected during the investigation of the 9/11
attacks; 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, but through it all, Saudi Arabia
remained our “friend” and ally. They sold us their oil at the market price, doing us no
favors, but because Saudi Arabia was the “swing” producer, and when, purely for
reasons of economic self-interest, the Saudis raised or lowered production so
as to lower or raise the price of oil, we were always naively grateful. The
Saudis have a stake not just in current oil revenues, but in maximizing the
value of the billions of barrels they have in the ground. They are not
doing us favors. They calculate their ideal price for oil, at any time, based
on the likely effect on consumers, who may switch to other sources of energy,
and on energy producers, who if the price is high enough may search for new oil
supplies or extract oil already found, using innovative techniques. The Saudis
cannot forget fracking, and what that did to oil prices.
When the Saudis allowed
American troops to be based on on Saudi soil, this was presented as doing us a
favor, though it was the Americans who were protecting the Saudis, not the
other way round.
The alliance with Saudi
Arabia continues until today. When the Saudis bomb Yemeni civilians
indiscriminately, our government says nothing. After all, the Saudis are waging
a proxy war against Iran, and that is reason enough for the Americans to keep
quiet. But now we have a moment of high drama, conflicting tales, and Murder
Most Foul. Had the Saudis managed to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, they
could have promptly jailed him for 10, 20, 50 years, or even life, and there
would have been only a feeble bleat of protest, but nothing like what has
happened after his murder in Istanbul.
It’s the cinematic aspect
of the whole thing: the tape of Khashoggi walking serenely into the consulate,
unaware of any danger, with his fiancé waiting outside. He is never seen again.
We see those grainy shots of 15 Saudis who arrive at the airport, on two
different private planes, that same day, and who have apparently been recorded
— the Turks say they have the tapes — interrogating, torturing, and killing
him. Those same 15 Saudis leave that evening at two different times, on two
different planes. The whole thing is straight out of Hollywood.
Crown Prince Mohammed
(MbS) is often thought of as a proponent of major change. Yes, women can now
drive in Saudi Arabia, thanks to the Crown Prince. Yes, the cinemas, closed in
1979, have reopened, thanks to the Crown Prince. Yes, the forward-looking Crown
Prince has made big plans for building three new Saudi cities from scratch: one
an Economic City for businesses, especially high-tech companies and start-ups,
another for Entertainment, and a third intended to be a Muslim-friendly Tourist
City, so that the Saudis and other rich Arabs can spend more of their money at
home. With the help of a small army of Washington lobbyists, on whom Saudi
Arabia spent $27 million last year, and on media consultants from all over, the
Crown Prince has been presented as the young reformer of a sclerotic system,
and many in the West have accepted this carefully-cultivated image.
The killing of Jamal
Khashoggi reminds us that the Saudi rulers, and the Crown Prince, are
well-versed in the use of violence. They are determined to keep themselves in
power, and to keep the colossal wealth to which they help themselves. The
15,000 Saudi royals are collectively worth $1.7 trillion; they are not about to
let go of any of it. Jamal Khashoggi, though not a royal, began life as
well-connected as any commoner in Saudi Arabia could be. His grandfather was
the personal physician to King Abdelaziz Al Saud. His uncle was Adnan
Khashoggi, who through his connections in the Saudi government made $4 billion
dollars as an arms dealer. His cousin was Dodi Fayed, Princess Diana’s last
boyfriend, and the son of the billionaire businessman Mohamed Fayed.
Khashoggi has been a
leading journalist since the 1970s. He’s been the chief editor of Al Madina
(one of the oldest papers in the kingdom), worked as a columnist for
Al-Arabiya, served as a media advisor to Prince Turki al Faisal when he was the
Saudi ambassador to the United States, and has been a frequent guest both on
Saudi television and on such international channels as MBC, BBC, Al Jazeera,
and Dubai TV. He became the editor-in-chief of Al Watan twice, and on the
second occasion, he quickly got into hot water for publishing a column by the
poet Ibrahim al-Almaee challenging the basic Salafi premises. This led to
Khashoggi’s seemingly forced resignation. On May 17, 2010, Al Watan announced
that Khashoggi resigned as editor-in-chief “to focus on his personal projects.”
However, it is thought that he was forced to resign due to official displeasure
with articles published in the paper that were critical of the Kingdom’s harsh
Islamic rules; the one by al-Almaee was the last straw.
In December 2016, the
Independent, citing a report from Middle East Eye, said Khashoggi had been
banned by Saudi Arabian authorities from publishing or appearing on television
“for criticising US President-elect Donald Trump.” That led Khashoggi to move
permanently to the United States.
Khashoggi began writing
for the Washington Post in September 2017, and still was contributing pieces up
to the time of his death. In the Post, he criticized the Saudi-led blockade
against Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s dispute with Lebanon, Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic
dispute with Canada, and the Kingdom’s crackdown on dissent and the media. But
he also supported some of Crown Prince’s reforms, such as allowing women to
drive. He condemned the arrest of Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan, Aziza
al-Yousef, and several other women’s rights advocates involved in the
women-to-drive movement and the anti male-guardianship campaign. He opposed the
By 2017, Khashoggi, who
had two million Twitter followers, was the best known pundit in the Arab world.
He has been hailed in the West as a progressive, but that is a case of
misunderstanding his aims. Khashoggi believed in spreading Islamic rule, the
same goal as that of any Jihadi, but he wanted to achieve that goal through
political Islam. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1970s and remained
true to it, even praising it in a Washington Post column. Some described him as
the de facto leader of the Saudi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Crown
Prince, on the other hand, believes that the Muslim Brotherhood is a danger to
the Kingdom, that is, to his family’s continued rule.
Khashoggi flourished in
Washington during the last year. He became a regular guest on the major TV news
networks in Britain and the United States, as well as a columnist for the
Washington Post. In 2018 Khashoggi established a new political party, in the
West, called Democracy for the Arab World Now, which — had he lived — could
have become a major political threat to Crown Prince Mohammed.
During this past year,
there have been many Saudi emissaries — “businessmen” — who met with Khashoggi
in Washington, to promise him he would be safe if he returned to the Kingdom;
the Crown Prince, too, offered to make him an “advisor” if only he would
return. He turned them all down, telling a friend that he would have to have
been crazy to believe their assurances.
Khashoggi was not a
secularist, not a Saudi Ataturk, as some in the West seem to think. He believed
in Islam and wanted it to spread, but to do so through “democratic” means — the
“political Islam” of, for example, Mohamed Morsi in Egypt or Rachid Ghannouchi
in Tunisia. He disliked the Saudi family’s censorship of the media; he believed
that criticism might weaken the hold of the Al-Saud, but strengthen the sinews
of the state and of the Muslim Brotherhood. He knew how corrupt the Saudi
system was, and knew, too, how unforgiving the Crown Prince could be. Yet he
still maintained his faith that there were some limits to Saudi ruthlessness,
which is why, on October 2, he went to the consulate in Istanbul. We see — as
he suddenly saw, just before the murderers started in on him — that he was