Often in these days of the manic news cycle, with Trump dominating nearly every headline, we forget stories from a few months, or even a few days ago. And I find that there is a portion of the people who don’t really care about anything that doesn’t appear to affect them directly. The brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, therefore, may have been relegated to the backs of most people’s minds, but … pull it out and dust it off, if you will, just for a few minutes.
Mr. Khashoggi was a Saudi Arabian dissident, author, columnist for The Washington Post, and a general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel. On October 2nd, as his bride-to-be waited outside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Mr. Khashoggi had gone to obtain documents needed for his wedding, Mr. Khashoggi was set upon in a well-planned attack within the consulate. It would be two weeks later, October 15th, before a search would turn up evidence that Mr. Khashoggi had not only been murdered, but tortured and dismembered.
So why is he back on my radar today? Because last week Turkey opened a trial into the Khashoggi’s murder accusing 20 Saudi nationals, though in absentia, for Saudi Arabia refuses to extradite them. The murder took place in Turkey, so it is only right and proper the trial be held there. Twenty Saudis are on trial, likely to be convicted for their part in the plot, and likely to be sentenced to death. None, however, are likely to ever be punished. But what bothers me most is that the one person who, more than any other, is responsible for this horrible murder is not on trial and never will be. That person is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aka MbS. The Saudi government has prosecuted 11 men for carrying out the killing, and sentenced five of them to death in December, but did not find any senior officials responsible. Imagine that.
The twenty on trial in Turkey? They were plebes doing just what they were told. Sure, they are guilty as hell, but … the real guilt is on the one who ordered the murder from the comfort of his luxurious palace. And he will likely never pay the price.
If Jamal Khashoggi had not come to the United States in 2017 and been hired by The Washington Post, we might not have even noticed his brutal murder, for most people in the U.S. don’t pay much attention to what happens in the Middle East. But he did come here seeking asylum, seeking safe harbour. He was a part of our nation, even though he was an immigrant. He trusted us. No, we had no way to keep him safe while he was in Turkey, so that is not our burden to bear. But what is our burden to bear is that the so-called leader of the U.S., one Donald Trump, without any justification, disputed information provided by the CIA proving that MbS ordered Khashoggi’s murder, and instead lavished praise on the Crown Prince. He was more concerned about selling weapons to Saudi Arabia than the brutal murder of a man of honour.
Back in April, 18 months to the day after Khashoggi’s murder, Trump called bin Salman “my friend”. What a slap in the face to Mr. Khashoggi … what a slap in the face to us all. Mr. Khashoggi was, by all indications a good man, a man with a conscience, a man who was not afraid to speak up and tell the truth. He deserved better.