Remembering Jamal Khashoggi: A New Look at His Life and Legacy of Courage

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Photo credits: Al-Jazeera



In the days prior to and on the one-year anniversary of his death, much has been written, printed, and been broadcast about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (pictured).

The names of some nefarious and powerful figures inside Saudi Arabia’s ruling establishment have also been widely promoted in the media as of late. This is because these figures have been linked to Khashoggi’s mysterious death and disappearance. Among those names is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his aide Saud Al-Qahtani.

Saudi Arabia’s government initially denied knowledge about some of its high-level employees being linked to this heinous crime. However, governments across the world (including the U.S. government) blamed Khashoggi’s death and the attempt cover it up on rulers inside the Saudi government.

Khashoggi’s high-powered enemies wanted him dead for one reason. His well-respected and necessary reports as a journalist were published to much fanfare all over the world. These articles were very critical of the Saudi regime. Though his relationship with the House of Al-Saud was once cordial, he spoke up when that house got out of order.

However, Khashoggi’s public criticisms of Saudi Crown Prince Bin Salman (as well as members of the powerful Arab ruler’s inner circle) were not his first exhibitions of bravery as a veteran news man.

Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was born in October 13, 1958 inside Medina, Saudi Arabia. This is the Arab-Islamic kingdom’s second holiest city. Medina is also a major spiritual hub for the entire Islamic world, including in Muslim countries where Arabic is not the national language.

Muhammad Khashoggi (a Turkish-born physician) was the late Saudi-born journalist’s grandfather. The elder Khashoggi once served as a personal physician for Abdulaziz ibn Al-Saud, a celebrated 20th century patriarch from the Saudi royal family’s history. Ibn Al-Saud is also the modern founder of his family’s oil-rich Gulf State monarchy.

Jamal Khashoggi’s grandfather adopted Saudi Arabia as his home after marrying a woman there to start a family. After the end of World War I, the Turkish Ottoman Empire lost its status as the primary headquarters of royalty and power for the Muslim world. But the Al-Saud Dynasty filled the power vacuum left by the Ottomans in the Arabian Peninsula.

Like the Al-Sauds, the Turkish/Jewish Khashoggi family name boasts generational prestige, which came about nearly a century ago.

Jamal Khashoggi is also the nephew of former Saudi arms dealer and billionaire Adnan Khashoggi. Jamal’s uncle made a name during the infamous Iran-Contra era of the 1980s. Also in the 1980s, Khashoggi married for the first time. This marriage was to a Saudi woman named Dr. Alaa Nassif.

Khashoggi and Nassif had four children together (two boys and two girls). The dedicated family man began his career as region-level manager for a Saudi bookstore chain called Tihama. He changed his career gears from literature sales to journalism in 1985 when he became a reporter for the Saudi Gazette.

Around that time, Khashoggi also simultaneously served as an editor and manager for other Saudi-based newspapers. Khashoggi used his job as a journalist to do more than report the news. He was also an outspoken advocate of human rights and sane political norms.

Over the course of his illustrious reporting career, he criticized the Soviet Union during the Cold War for its brutal military bombardment of Afghanistan. This was during a bloody, 10-year Russian occupation (1979 to 1989) of the war-torn Muslim nation. Though he has Jewish blood, Khashoggi also shunned Israel for its occupation of Palestinian territories.

Khashoggi’s voice was one of reason during times of military conflict in his homeland and abroad. He was one of the few journalists in the world who got the chance to do an official interview with Osama bin Laden, another late Saudi dissident who got involved with international terrorism after the Cold War’s end.

Khashoggi was critical of the U.S.-backed “Arab Spring” campaign by the Obama Administration, which uprooted a number of government leaders in North Africa. General Abdel El-Sisi is the U.S.-backed successor to the now deposed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

General El-Sisi was another subject of Khashoggi’s investigation of Egypt’s well-documented human rights violations in recent history.

However, it was the 2017 birth of Khashoggi’s fiercest criticisms directed at the sitting Saudi Crown Prince, which many believed spelled the beginning of the end. At first, Khashoggi was supportive of Mohammed bin Salman’s military intervention in neighboring Yemen.

Initially, he wanted to snuff out Iranian attempts to undermine and intimidate the Kingdom.

Many policy observers believed Bin Salman’s U.S.-backed air war against Iranian-sponsored rebels in Yemen was going to be a U.S.-style “shock and awe” bombing campaign followed by victory that came short and sweet. However, Houthi rebels survived Saudi Arabia’s massive air assaults and continue to fight with their Iranian-made military hardware.

This war has become very costly to Saudi Arabia from the standpoint of manpower. Financial losses and ever-mounting bad publicity has also made the Saudi air war in Yemen become a globally-decried campaign of genocide. Khashoggi’s criticism grew more in-depth and credible as the war raged on, which made him a target of the Al-Saud government.

On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi showed up at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. This was a little over a year after he went into exile in the U.S. Khashoggi arrived at the Saudi consulate in Turkey that day to pick up the papers he needed to marry a Turkish woman named Hatice Cengiz.

The two were happily engaged and marriage plans were going well.

However, Khashoggi never retrieved his marital documents that day. He also did not make it out of the Saudi consulate in the Turkish capital alive. Instead, the brave journalist was swiftly met by 15 high-ranking Saudi government officials who are suspected of kidnapping, torturing, murdering, and dismembering him.

Though details surrounding the consequences of his assassins are sketchy, Khashoggi’s legacy of producing media reports with integrity will live on. TIME Magazine named him 2018’s “Person of the Year.” This year, a special award was created in Khashoggi’s honor.

The Jamal Khashoggi Award will be given in the future to courageous journalists who risk their careers and lives to cover dangerous conflicts all over the world. The HVY Journalists brand posthumously congratulates Khashoggi and wishes the best for all future news reporters who will be honored with an award in his name.

May all critically-acclaimed, as well as all lesser-known defenders of truth across the world deliver their unwavering voices against oppression; for these brave warriors have the ability to win more battles against injustice in death than they can in life.