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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, lionized by U.S. pundits and politicians, is a — suspected murderer

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 33-year-old de facto leader of Saudi Arabia widely praised as a “reformist” by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and others, turns out to be a suspected murderer. 

Here’s what happened: 5 days ago, Jamal Khashoggi, a one-time Saudi insider who became a prominent critic and self-exiled in Washington, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to get a document he needed to re-marry. His fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said he never emerged.

The Washington Post reports that Turkish investigators now believe that a 15-member murder team sent in from Saudi Arabia killed Khashoggi inside the consulate. There have been further reports that his body was dismembered before being removed.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lied in an interview with Bloomberg, saying Khashoggi had left the Istanbul consulate soon after he arrived.

Jamal Khashoggi, 59 years old, had contributed regularly to the Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, edited by the excellent Karen Attiah.  After his disappearance, she wrote:

Jamal is one of the leading proponents of freedom and democratic change throughout the [Mideast] region, and he frequently denounces the harsh tactics deployed by the Saudi authorities against prominent clerics, business owners, female activists and social media figures. I ask him from time too time if he is okay, if he is feeling safe. He insists that he feels the need to write, despite the pressures from the Saudi authorities.

Khashoggi bravely criticized the Saudi war against Yemen, in which tens of thousands of civilians have already died from air attacks and a cholera epidemic. 

Jamal Kashoggi

The likely murder of Khashoggi is a stunning rebuke to Thomas Friedman and to the American business leaders and officials who feted the Saudi Crown Prince during his visit to the U.S. earlier this year, who included President Trump, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, George W. Bush, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. 

Friedman and the others affectionately nicknamed bin Salman “MBS,” after his initials, in a further effort to humanize him. 

Thomas Friedman

Friedman’s unerring instinct for terrible analysis didn’t desert him during his visit to Saudi Arabia last November, when he stayed up half the night interviewing bin Salman and then gushed, “The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right.” In a report titled “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last,” Friedman lathered the prince with praise:

I told him his work habits reminded me of a line in the play “Hamilton,” when the chorus asks: Why does he always work like “he’s running out of time.”

“Because,” said M.B.S., “I fear that the day I die I am going to die without accomplishing what I have in my mind.

Surely bin Salman is lionized partly because he has formed a tacit alliance with Israel, with rumors of cooperation on security matters. 

So now the reformist hero is exposed as a suspected killer, who ordered the death of a man who did nothing more than write newspaper columns. Over the next few days, the squirming by Thomas Friedman and others will be something to see. 

Update from editor. Just as North predicted, Friedman is squirming. On twitter:

Trump, Kushner. I don’t usually tweet opinions, but here goes: you need to get the Saudis to find/release Jamal Khashoggi. Without constructive critics like him, Saudi econ reform will fail.

Another update: Here is a link to more of Jamal Khashoggi’s columns in the Washington Post:


James North

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades. He lives in New York City.

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39 Responses

  1. Maximus Decimus Meridius on October 7, 2018, 12:05 pm

    “Khashoggi bravely criticized the Saudi war against Yemen,”

    If this story is confirmed, it is absolutely horrific and utterly to be condemned. However, let’s not idealise Khashoggi. He only started to criticise the war in Yemen AFTER he fell out with the crown prince. Before that, he had publically praised it. While Khashoggi is now being hailed as a dissident, in fact he made an entire career out of serving the Saudi regime, first as an acolyte of Bin Laden in Afghanistan (when this was approved by the Saudis) then as a court scribe in the pay of a succession of high-ranking princes. When the latest of these high-ranking princes, Waleed bin Talal, fell from grace with the crown prince, so too did his minions, among them Khashoggi. Truth is, the Saudi regime has been imprisoning and killing genuine dissidents for decades, but it never bothered Khashoggi until it started to affect him personally.

    As for Tom Friedman well….. since when has he not been an utter fool? It says a lot for the state of US journalism that this cretin who writes like a smart-ass school kid is considered an ‘expert’ on the Middle East by the self-styled ‘paper of record’.

    “Surely bin Salman is lionized partly because he has formed a tacit alliance with Israel, with rumors of cooperation on security matters.”

    Without a doubt. As any Arab leader knows, the best way to gain uncrtical coverage in the US, no matter how appalling your regime may be, is to make nice with Israel. Why bother with all those pricey PR firms?

    • Misterioso on October 8, 2018, 9:44 am

      Mohammed bin Salman is typical of many spoiled rotten Saudis I met during my years in the region. He’s a gutless, not very bright, disgusting, murderous slime ball being played like a violin by Trump and the entity known as “Israel.” The “Arab street” views him as a traitor.

      His character was well demonstrated just a few months ago when he blew well over one $billion U.S. buying a painting, a massive new home and a huge yacht.

      Here’s the link to a just published Al Jazeera article re Jamal Khashoggi:

      “Profile: Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi writer missing in Turkey.”

      “Prominent journalist Khashoggi is feared dead after his October 2 disappearance inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.”

      “Jamal Khashoggi is one of the most prominent Saudi and Arab journalists and political commentators of his generation, owing to a career that has spanned nearly 30 years.”

      • JLewisDickerson on October 8, 2018, 5:02 pm

        Alleged Saudi Murder of Washington Post Columnist Prompts Calls to Halt U.S. Relations with Regime

      • JLewisDickerson on October 8, 2018, 8:19 pm

        Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi has disappeared. Will the U.S. take a stand?

    • Maghlawatan on October 8, 2018, 10:03 pm

      MBS got the fluffy PR treatment . So did Assad a 20 years ago. Further back Paul Manafort did the same for the Angolan warlord Jonas Savimbi. This is how US empire works

      The firm’s most successful right-wing makeover was of the Angolan guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, a Maoist turned anti-communist insurgent, whose army committed atrocities against children and conscripted women into sexual slavery. During the general’s 1986 trip to New York and Washington, Manafort and his associates created what one magazine called “Savimbi Chic.” Dressed in a Nehru suit, Savimbi was driven around in a stretch limousine and housed in the Waldorf-Astoria and the Grand Hotel, projecting an image of refinement. The firm had assiduously prepared him for the mission, sending him monthly reports on the political climate in Washington. According to The Washington Post, “He was meticulously coached on everything from how to answer his critics to how to compliment his patrons.” Savimbi emerged from his tour as a much-championed “freedom fighter.” When the neoconservative icon Jeane Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi at the American Enterprise Institute, she declared that he was a “linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior … one of the few authentic heroes of our time.”
      This was a racket—Savimbi paid the firm $600,000 in 1985 alone—that Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly did its best to keep alive; the firm’s own business was tied to Savimbi’s continued rebellion against Angola’s leftist regime. As the country stood on the brink of peace talks in the late ’80s, after nearly 15 years of bloody civil war, the firm helped secure fresh batches of arms for its client, emboldening Savimbi to push forward with his military campaign. Former Senator Bill Bradley wrote in his memoir, “When Gorbachev pulled the plug on Soviet aid to the Angolan government, we had absolutely no reason to persist in aiding Savimbi. But by then he had hired an effective Washington lobbying firm.” The war continued for more than a decade, killing hundreds of thousands of Angolans. »

      John McCain believed in US exceptionalism, that the US was the greatest country in history .

      Saudi is afaik the only country named after the ruling sociopathic family. Like Israel it is not likely to survive what the 21st century throws at it.

      • RoHa on October 9, 2018, 12:11 am

        Plenty of countries have been a bit heavy handed with reporters. Why are you singling out the only named-after-the-ruling-sociopathic-family country in the world?

  2. Atlantaiconoclast on October 7, 2018, 12:23 pm

    And they have been in a moral panic over Assad doing what he had to do to save his nation from armed terrorists. But somehow, they see this thug, MBS, as a reformer. We live in a Zio supremacist clown world. If you are friendly with Israel and hate Iran, the media will really go out of its way to look past minor problems like murder (see the above piece and no telling how many other innocents killed in SA) and genocide (Yemen).

  3. hai_bar on October 7, 2018, 12:40 pm

    Waiting for the “Saudi” regime to collapse.Hopefully their misdeeds in Yemen will be their end.

    Meanwhile, a traditional Yemeni style on these collaborating fools

  4. Marnie on October 7, 2018, 1:38 pm

    It figures netanyahoo and tRUMP would be in bed with these murderous thugs.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on October 7, 2018, 1:51 pm

      And so was Obama, the cruel hoax who continues to receive undue adoration.

      • Marnie on October 8, 2018, 3:24 am

        Whataboutery! What a fun game you can feel free to play all by yourself. President Obama is the only president I’ve never felt ashamed of or cringed when I heard him speak. I never felt he despised anyone, he didn’t agree with everything the press said but never publicly called them ‘enemies of the people’. He didn’t use twitter to broadcast every hateful thought in his mind and did more speaking to people using his voice instead of a stubby set of angry old fart fingers. I didn’t agree with everything he did and he made mistakes in 8 years but this orange fuck has destroyed the credibility of the office of president in less than 2 years and did a lot of that while he was campaigning for the job. He is in the midst of a hot love affair with KJU, admires the dictators and mass murderers in the world and has a button mushroom sized hardon to be king of the world. He doesn’t give a fuck about the air, water or land so I can’t imagine he gives a shit about his own grandchildren, let alone anyone else’s. He is too busy trying to impress his base with how big of a racist dick he is and doesn’t give a damn about the 2/3 of americans who either don’t approve or actively hate his guts. Fuck him , ‘yahoo and the saudi ‘royalty’.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on October 9, 2018, 4:32 pm

      Uh, our press IS the enemy of the people, but not because they oppose Trump, but because they cover for Zionist war crimes and the Empire’s war crimes, and constantly demonize any nation that does not tow the line. You guys hate Trump for all the wrong reasons. Yes, he is icky, but I oppose him for many of his policies, mostly his neocon hijacked foreign policy.

      But our press does not have to be the enemy. A fair press is NEVER the enemy of the people We don’t have a fair press.

      • Marnie on October 9, 2018, 7:55 pm

        ‘Uh, our press…..’

        Uh, not all the press and not all the time either. It’s a disappointment to watch tRUMP and his syncophants rant and rave and lie and distort and not be challenged with facts and on that note I think the press should boycott S. Huckasanders ‘briefings’ on the principal that there’s no point in asking an established liar anything at all.

        ‘You guys hate Trump for all the wrong reasons.’

        Excuse me? I just touched the tip of the iceberg wrt tRUMP. I don’t need to conform to yours or anyone else’s ideology to justify my utmost disdain with this SOB.

      • Atlantaiconoclast on October 9, 2018, 10:00 pm

        Even Trump does not say the entire press is bad. I didn’t see any critiques about policy, just statement about how icky he is. Like I said, there are better reasons to oppose him. You and others are focused on personal dislike. Sad.

      • Marnie on October 10, 2018, 2:17 am

        I can’t tell if you are a woman or man but I’m a woman and certain issues I’m extremely bothered by about regarding the sexual predator in the WH, who has been accused of raping a minor, raping wife #1, has 16(?) women accusing him of various unwanted and unwelcomed aggressive sexual behavior, his statement “you have to treat women like shit” and he does, he is a stupid pile of human waste who is incapable or unwilling to listen to ideas other than his own (for example, his belief that exercise is harmful), only cares about what’s good for the tRUMPs and is a totally gross human being. #LOCKUPTRUMP/PENCE/DONNIE JR/ERIC/IVANKAFORSTARTERS

    • Kay24 on October 11, 2018, 4:27 pm

      Jared has a deep relationship with Murderous Bin Laden. He has spent hours dining with him, and having long chats. He seems to have also been involved in encouraging SA to have a feud with Qatar, after Jared’s request for a big loan/investment for Jared’s billion dollar building blunder, was turned down. We should sent Jared to be firm with MBS and get answers from his buddy. As for Nutty, he is the serpent that coils himself around the US and now SA, so that he can join their nefarious activities, proxy wars, and conspire to get Iran bombed. The axis of evil.

  5. CHUCKMAN on October 7, 2018, 1:47 pm

    “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, lionized by U.S. pundits and politicians, is a — suspected murderer”

    It wouldn’t surprise.

    After all, his efforts at usurping power, kidnapping, ransom, suppression of dissent, and aggressive war have all been on public display.

    This is the only kind of Arab leader Israel always embraces warmly as a friend.

    They are comfortable with this kind of leader, which tells us a great deal. They like the Mubarak and el Sisi types and seriously dislike any democratic or even independent-thinking types among Arab Leaders.

    Israel already has a de facto alliance going with this thug. They kill together in Syria.

    When this “prince” first seized power, the pathetic editors at The Guardian were tripping over themselves putting out favorable snippets about miracles like a few women drivers, in the same fashion as the oleaginous and always predictable Thomas Friedman.

    Meanwhile, the guy uses the vast storehouse of weapons he has bought to kill plenty of women and kids in Yemen and also among the oppressed Shia minority in his own country.

    Of course, being perhaps the biggest single customer for weapons from the US and Britain and some others, he is treated with kid gloves.

    He is being promoted as part of the new Mideast, those aligned with Israeli and American interests. He is helping to cement imperial arrangements with America’s Mideast colony.

    He is almost always smiling in his photos, but then psychopaths are like that, aren’t they?

    • Marnie on October 8, 2018, 3:27 am


      “This is the only kind of Arab leader Israel always embraces warmly as a friend.”

      “They are comfortable with this kind of leader, which tells us a great deal. They like the Mubarak and el Sisi types and seriously dislike any democratic or even independent-thinking types among Arab Leaders.”

      “He is almost always smiling in his photos, but then psychopaths are like that, aren’t they?”

      The trifecta of deplorable!

      Whoops, missed a gem – “When this “prince” first seized power, the pathetic editors at The Guardian were tripping over themselves putting out favorable snippets about miracles like a few women drivers, in the same fashion as the oleaginous and always predictable Thomas Friedman.”

      Yep, nothing spells miracle like a few women drivers. Love the word oleaginous and the comparison to Thomas Friedman – ‘spot on’.

  6. Tuyzentfloot on October 8, 2018, 4:17 am

    The title doesn’t really do Bin Salman justice. Bin Salman has the reputation of a reformist in a reactionary country because he hired people to manufacture a good reputation for him and that is what they came up with.

    I think any reformist action he takes is only for PR purposes while he gets on with the real business: the Saudis have hit peak oil over a decade ago , they’re in deep financial trouble and they’re involved in a quietly genocidal war in Yemen(through famine) over resources which they hoped would improve their finances but made it worse instead. They’re also responsible for a large share of the destruction in Syria. Oh and he possible ordered someone to be killed.

  7. Kay24 on October 8, 2018, 6:36 am

    I have seen a few articles, written by the naive, like Friedman, lauding Salman, and applauding his “open minded” policies. What a terrible joke. He has turned into a ruthless, deceptive leader.
    He has become just as insidious as Israel’s leadership , I guess maybe even getting valuable advice from them. Salman is the man who seized power by intimidating and threatening other Saudi Leaders, charging them with corruption, going on to buy a $550 million yatch, and a couple of homes for around the same price each, after pushing rigid austerity measures for the country. He is delusional thinking that after giving women the permission to drive, becoming Israel’s new best friend, and bombing Yemen, killing helpless civilians, tourists are going to flock to his country.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on October 8, 2018, 8:49 am

      Friedman is not ‘naive’ in the least.

      He is very well aware of the benefits of shilling for a US and Israel friendly tyrant who happens to be sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves.

      • Kay24 on October 8, 2018, 1:34 pm

        Good point.

  8. Sibiriak on October 8, 2018, 10:45 am

    How Saudi Money Keeps Washington at War in Yemen

    By Ben Freeman


    In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

    This meteoric rise in spending allowed the Saudis to dramatically increase the number of lobbyists representing their interests on both sides of the aisle. Before President Trump even took office, the Saudi government signed a deal with the McKeon Group, a lobbying firm headed by Howard “Buck” McKeon, the recently retired Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. His firm also represents Lockheed Martin, one of the top providers of military equipment to the Kingdom.

    On the Democratic side, the Saudis inked a $140,000-per-month deal with the Podesta Group, headed by Tony Podesta, whose brother John, a long-time Democratic Party operative, was the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Tony Podesta later dissolved his firm and has allegedly been investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for serving as an unregistered foreign agent.

    And keep in mind that all this new firepower was added to an already formidable arsenal of lobbying outfits and influential power brokers, including former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who, according to Lee Fang of the Intercept, was “deeply involved in the [Trump] White House hiring process,” and former Senator Norm Coleman, chairman of the pro-Republican Super PAC American Action Network.

    All told, during 2017, Saudi Arabia inked 45 different contracts with FARA-registered firms and more than 100 individuals registered as Saudi foreign agents in the U.S. They proved to be extremely busy. Such activity reveals a clear pattern: Saudi foreign agents are working tirelessly to shape perceptions of that country, its royals, its policies, and especially its grim war in Yemen, while simultaneously working to keep U.S. weapons and military support flowing into the Kingdom.

  9. DaBakr on October 8, 2018, 2:08 pm

    In the cesspool of regional dictators, Khameini, Erdogan, Putin, Sisi, and especially Assad, how typical that (((((north)))))) thinks this is anything other then typical. Journalists in all mentioned regimes disappear with some regulatory. author simply wants to taint U.S. by implicating pundits

    • oldgeezer on October 8, 2018, 2:23 pm


      Why did you leave Israel off that list? They regularly imprison and shoot or kill journalists! Democratic murder no doubt hahaha.

      None of those pikers can hold a candle to Israel’s assault on journalists.

      • DaBakr on October 8, 2018, 2:59 pm

        Israel has more journalists per square foot working then any other nation. Other then the few Hamas militants that claimed journalist status as a ruse Israel allows journalists completly hostile to Zionism and Israel to operate freely in israel and the territories. Levy and Haas are just two examples of celebrity status anti government reporters who haven’t ‘disappeared’. Your post is a fail. hundreds of reporters from around the globe flock to Israel all year long. I could have added Pakistan, China, Bulgaria, and a few others, as I’m sure your well aware, but Israel, Britain, the US, etc., they wouldn’t mke list. Now you can tell me the horrible plight of all the reporters locked up and/or murdered by Israel. Don’t forget to include militaNts

      • John O on October 8, 2018, 3:57 pm

        “Israel allows journalists completly hostile to Zionism and Israel to operate freely in israel and the territories…”

        The Israeli government has frequently harassed the BBC’s Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen. I’m sure other news organisations can tell a similar story.

      • oldgeezer on October 9, 2018, 7:46 am


        Pull the other leg .

        Israel has less than a free press. It currently has more journalists jailed than Saudi Arabia, the same number as Syria and one less than Iran. What a burnt out beacon.

        It targets Palestinian and foreign journalists primarily.

        It has murdered 2 journalists this year.

        It removes credentials from reporters whose coverage it doesn’t like and expels them from the country. Martin Fletcher and Ayman Mohyeldin being the best known cases. Both are/were reputable reporters. Given Israel’s longstanding assault on reporters and reporting it is only to be expected that reporters on assignment there do a lot of self censorship lest they be unable to undertake their job at all.

        “The Israel Defense Forces often violate the rights of Palestinian and foreign journalists, especially when they are covering demonstrations in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Under Israel’s system of administrative detention, Palestinian journalists can be held indefinitely without trial, without formal charge, and without notification of a lawyer on the grounds that they are inciting violence, cooperating with terrorist organizations, or otherwise posing a threat to Israel’s security.”

        I’ll take the opinion of rsf and cpj over your silly opinion.

    • Maghlawatan on October 8, 2018, 10:31 pm

      Saudi is a villa in a jungle, Dabakr.
      In the jungle all the regimes kill journalists. That includes Israel who murders Journalists in Gaza for sport. There is a org in the US called Memorial? which draws attention to the murder of journalists worldwide. A few years ago there was a big mess when it failed to honour
      2 journalists from Gaza who had been
      murdered by Zionist goons.

  10. HarryLaw on October 8, 2018, 3:21 pm

    Since Trump has claimed the Saudis would not last two weeks without the US military, therefore everything the Saudis have done i.e, killing Yemanis, Syrians, Bahrainians and their own people, has been done with the support of Trump and before him Obama, otherwise he could just have said stop your aggression otherwise I will withdraw my support.

  11. lonely rico on October 8, 2018, 4:19 pm

    > DaBakr

    hundreds of reporters from around the globe flock to Israel

    Some don’t have to flock to Israel from around the globe,

    because they’re born there,

    and are murdered there

    Ahmed Abu Hussein Voice of the People Radio,Bisan News Agency
    Basil Ibrahim Faraj Palestinian Media and Communication Company
    Fadel Shana Reuters
    Hussam Salama Al-Aqsa
    Imad Abu Zahra freelance
    Issam Tillawi Voice of Palestine
    James Miller freelance
    Khaled Reyadh Hamad Continue Production Films
    Mahmoud al-Kumi Al-Aqsa
    Mohamed Abu Halima Al-Najah
    Muhammad al-Bishawi Najah Press Office, IslamOnline
    Nazih Darwazeh APTN
    Raffaele Ciriello Freelancer
    Rami Rayan Palestine Network for Press and Media
    Sameh al-Aryan Al-Aqsa TV
    Simone Camilli The Associated Press
    Suleiman Abdul-Rahim al-Ashi Palestine
    Yaser Murtaja Ain Media

    • Kay24 on October 8, 2018, 4:52 pm

      That is so sad. These murders seem to go unnoticed in the zionist media in the US. No investigative reporting about the systematic killing of mostly Arab journalists, to silence their criticism.

      That is also a good response to a delusional person, who thinks keeps trying to convince us that Israel is a great democracy, and a beacon of shining light.

  12. echinococcus on October 8, 2018, 8:03 pm

    “suspected” murderer?

    Now that’s a good one! Forget the thousands beheaded or crucified legally, the tens of thousands murdered in Syria and Yemen, etc. He’s a “suspected” murderer for some uninteresting personal story…

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