Khashoggi was a Victim of Saudi Terror. He was also a Keen Supporter of
By Petra Marquardt-Bigman
October 21, 2018
The entirely legitimate shock and outrage over the
disappearance and likely murder of
the prominent Saudi critic Jamal
Khashoggi have so far largely prevented an examination of his views.
Perhaps inevitably, this has led to right-wing conspiracy
theories – retweeted by Donald
Trump Jr - about a nefarious media plot covering up that Khashoggi was
really a veteran Al-Qaeda sympathizer who just pretended to be a "democrat
So it may be necessary to point out the obvious: when a
journalist is assassinated by the government he criticized, it doesn’t really
matter what views he held. Opinions quite simply never justify murder.
But at a time when the U.S. president himself regularly
maligns the media, it seems particularly important that the media make an effort
to demonstrate that even when one of their own is assassinated for the views he
held, his views won’t be whitewashed.
The New York Times has made such an effort by publishing an article that
announces already in the title that Khashoggi’s views were formed by a
"Tangled Mix of Royal Service and Islamist Sympathies."
The article provides a welcome corrective to the widespread
misperception that Khashoggi was some kind of liberal, or even progressive,
But to put it bluntly, unless you are rooting for an
Islamist Middle East, it seems doubtful that Khashoggi’s vision for the region
was a big improvement over the agenda of the autocratic Saudis. And while the
Times doesn’t cover this aspect, if you are an Israeli, you can only wonder if
Khashoggi’s hopes for the Middle East would not have turned you into a refugee
– or worse.
The Times notes that Khashoggi joined the Muslim
Brotherhood as a young man, and that he "remained conversant in
its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric, which he could
deploy or hide depending on whom he was seeking to befriend."
Reportedly, in the past decade, Khashoggi’s relationship
with the Muslim Brotherhood was "ambiguous"; yet, the paper points out
that several Muslim Brotherhood members "said this week that they always
felt he was with them. Many of his secular friends would not have believed
But there is plenty of evidence indicating that
Khashoggi’s Muslim Brothers were right.
A recent Washington Post report on
how Khashoggi spent the days before his disappearance provides a noteworthy clue
by repeatedly citing Khashoggi’s "friend" Azzam Tamimi, who is also
cited in the NYT article.
While the Post describes Tamimi simply as "a British
Palestinian lecturer and presenter on the satellite TV station al-Hiwar,"
the NYT explains that the relationship between Khashoggi and his "Islamist
friend in London" goes back to the early 1990s, when the two teamed up for
a campaign denouncing the military coup in Algeria that deprived an Islamist
political party of the chance to win control of parliament.
But it is important to know that Khashoggi’s longtime
friend is a tireless promoter of the Palestinian terror group Hamas;
he even wrote a book about it, entitled "Hamas: A History From
Tamimi has praised the
terror group as "defenders of the truth" who "made sacrifices for
the good of all Muslims." He’s stated that he considers it "a great
honor to be close to Hamas," and that "all the leaders of
Hamas are my friends." Indeed, he and Hamas leader Khaled
Meshal are former
schoolmates, growing up together in Kuwait. According to Tamimi, Hamas
"is the true representative of the Palestinian people."
Tamimi has repeatedly praised suicide
bombings, and he once delivered a hate-convulsed rant at a London rally for the
annual Iranian-sponsored Quds Day, where he called for the eradication of the
that is Israel. In a 2003
interview on the BBC, and again at a 2012 talk, he even expressed his
willingness to die as a "martyr"
in a suicide bombing against Israelis.
According to the Washington Post, in the hours before his
flight from London to Istanbul, Khashoggi went out for lunch with Tamimi; he was
due to appear on Tamimi’s talk show - broadcast on a TV channel that is
pro-Hamas - a few days later.
In London, Khashoggi had just made a presentation at a
conference organized by Middle East Monitor - a news site sympathetic to Hamas
and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has also shown a tendency towards anti-Semitic
conspiracy theories about Jews and/or Zionists making Western
politicians their tools.
Monitor editor Daud
Abdullah - known for his extremist
views - noted that Khashoggi "was keen to emphasize the
unwavering support of the Saudi people [for the Palestinians] as distinct from
that of its current political leadership," and that Khashoggi was nostalgic
about the early 1970s, "when Saudi Arabia under King Faisal was in the
vanguard of Arab and Islamic
support for the Palestinian cause and defense of the holy sites
threatened by Israel’s military occupation."
That sounds very similar to what Khashoggi told Al
Jazeera Arabic a year ago, when he had just started writing for the Washington
Post. Then he also "expressed hope that Saudi Arabia would go back to
assume its leadership of the Arab world and shift its focus to the causes that
are very important to the Arabs, mainly to support the Palestinians in their
struggle against Israel."
Khashoggi also "deplored the authorities’ decision
to allow some in the Saudi news media to express support for Israel against the
But a Middle East analyst who believes that supporting the
Palestinian "struggle against Israel" should be considered as one of
the most important Arab causes at a time when much of the region is in turmoil
betrays an unhealthy obsession with the world’s only Jewish state. By
prioritizing the Palestinian "struggle against Israel" above all else,
Khashoggi clearly demoted other Arab conflicts – not least, Syria.
But for Khashoggi, the "struggle against Israel"
was a critical part of the Islamist agenda he embraced. Middle East Monitor
reported last February that Khashoggi called on Muslims "to visit
Jerusalem" because "we need to remind the Israelis that Jerusalem
is ours," and again signaled his unequivocal
support for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Speaking in Istanbul, Khashoggi dismissed Saudi crown
prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s "talk
about moderate Islam," asserting that MBS "does not have the
answer to what moderate Islam means."
Khashoggi insisted that "It was the Muslim
Brotherhood’s contemporary scholars like Sheikh Ali Tantawi and Sheikh Yusuf
Qaradawi that introduced the term moderate Islam. Bin Salman is confused about
the proper choice for moderation […] The Muslim Brotherhood are moderates, but
he does not want to admit that."
It is rather shocking to see Khashoggi promoting the
notorious Yusuf Qaradawi as an example of a scholar who should be credited for
Western security experts are more likely to regard Qaradawi
as "one of the most public figureheads of the radical wing of the Muslim
Brotherhood," and the cleric who infamously gave religious legitimation to suicide
bombings. Qaradawi has been banned from entering numerous countries,
including Arab states as well as the U.S., the UK and France.
While Qaradawi eventually withdrew his
support for suicide bombings two years ago, Khashoggi himself was reportedly
among several Arab commentators who were dismayed that Qaradawi’s blessing of
suicide bombings against Israelis was "used by extension to justify suicide
bombing against fellow Muslims."
Qaradawi once suggested on
TV that Hitler was enacting divine
punishment in killing Jews: "The last punishment was carried out
by Hitler…he managed to put them in their place...Allah willing, the next time
will be at the hand of the believers."
Apocalyptically, Qaradawi promulgates belief in a divinely
ordained battle between "all Muslims and all Jews." His
"Fatawa on Palestine" references the notorious hadith that features in
the Hamas Charter: "The last day will not come unless you fight Jews. A Jew
will hide himself behind stones and trees and stones and trees will say, ‘O
servant of Allah – or O Muslim – there is a Jew behind me, come and kill
Qaradawi considers this hadith as "one of the miracles
of our Prophet" and has expressed the conviction that this prophesized
"battle” between Jews and Muslims "is not driven by nationalistic
causes or patriotic belonging; it is rather driven by religious incentives. This
battle is not going to happen between Arabs and Zionists, or between Jews and
"It is between Muslims and Jews as is clearly stated
in the hadith. This battle will occur between the collective body of Muslims and
the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews."
Plenty of his teachings justify the conclusion that
he "personifies the combination of theological anti-Judaism, modern
European anti-Semitism and conflict-driven Judeophobia that make up contemporary
Islamist attitudes to Jews."
Given that Khashoggi saw the "struggle against
Israel" as central, his promotion of Qaradawi as a paragon of
"moderate Islam" seems all the more alarming.
Khashoggi’s own intense hatred for Israel is clearly
reflected in some of his Al Hayat columns published by the Monitor in English
In "Palestine, the occupation and the resistance for
beginners," Khashoggi made the chilling claim that Israel’s
"existence is outside the context of history and logic […] it came into
being by force, it will live by force and it
will die by force."
A week later, Khashoggi penned a passionate
ode to Hamas. After implicitly rejecting negotiations with Israel by
asserting that it was divinely ordained that the "price" for freedom
was "blood and death," Khashoggi praised the Islamist terror
organization for accomplishing the "miracle" of procuring rockets and
He was awed by the "distinguished combat performance
of its men" and full of admiration that "the huge network of tunnels
that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt were
used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy." His
conclusion? "All of this proves that the movement [i.e. Hamas] has wasted
no time while ruling in Gaza."
When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, many - including
many Israelis - hoped that the Palestinians would develop the territory into a
model for a Palestinian state; optimists were even hoping that the Gaza Strip
could become a Singapore on the Mediterranean. The resolve of Hamas to instead
turn Gaza into a heavily armed terror enclave dashed all these hopes.
It makes sense to cheer this as a miraculous accomplishment
by Hamas only if you hope that one day, Israel "will die by force."
Those who applaud Khashoggi’s criticism of the Saudi
regime fail to understand that it was to a considerable degree rooted in the
Islamist belief that any accommodation with Israel could only be sustained by
oppressive regimes that disregard the will of the Muslim Arab people.
As Khashoggi’s old friend Azzam Tamimi once put it: "The majority of Arabs and Muslims do not recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Israel’s very existence on a land that was usurped by force [always] continued to be regarded as an aggression against the entire Ummah. Generation after generation, Arabs […] aspired to see Palestine liberated and the Zionist project aborted."