Jamal Khashoggi was born on 13 October 1958 in Saudi Arabia in 1958. He obtained a BA from Indiana State University. In his journey into journalism, he worked as a correspondent for the Saudi Gazette and other Arab newspapers from 1987 to 1999.
Jamal Khashoggi covered major events such as the Afghan war, the democratic transformation in Algeria and the war in Kuwait. He has been recognised for his work on Islamist movements and has published works on Sudan, Turkey, Yemen, Egypt and Jordan.
In 1999 he was appointed deputy editor of the Arab News, and in 2003 he took over the editorship of the newspaper Al Watan before being appointed media advisor to the Saudi ambassador Prince Turki Al Faisal in London and then Washington.
In 2007 he became the editor in-chief of Al Watan for the second time, but then left in May 2010 after he was chosen by Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal to lead the establishment and management of the news channel Al Arab, which has now stopped airing for political reasons. Mr Khashoggi is also the author of three books.
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi never wanted to be referred to as an opponent of the Saudi government. He was a writer who wanted a space to express himself freely, a former Riyadh insider with a lot to say from his self-imposed exile, and a vocal critic of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In a 2011 interview with Der Spiegel during the heady days of the Arab uprisings, Khashoggi said he had long shared bin Laden’s view that there were “only two ways to liberate the Arab world of its corrupt regimes: by infiltrating the political system through its institutions, or by violently overthrowing the depraved ruling cliques.”
“Democracy ‘was not an option at the time,’” he told the German news weekly.
But his views evolved, and popular movements from Bahrain to Syria would cement his support for democracy.
“The absolute monarchy is obsolete,” Khashoggi told Der Spiegel in that interview. “Democracy is the only solution.” The interviewer noted in her article that “others in Saudi Arabia would be interrogated and locked up for such words.”
The rise of Mohammed bin Salman and the sidelining of the old guard signaled the beginning of a tightening space for political discourse in Saudi Arabia. The new heir to the throne, who jumped to the head of the line of succession in June 2017, was intent on cementing his grip on power. In the months to come he rounded up clerics first, then hundreds of princes and business tycoons, including the maverick Al-Waleed, shaking them down and setting the tone for absolute rule.
Women’s rights activists did not escape the crackdown, and a group of prominent trailblazers were thrown in jail just one month before the ban on women’s driving was lifted.
Khashoggi saw the writing on the wall and left the kingdom for exile in the United States.
One year ago, Khashoggi began penning a column in the Washington Post, a platform that allowed him to express his critical views of the crown prince’s policies, from the war in Yemen to the abduction of the Lebanese premier, to the jailing of women’s rights activists.
He even went so far as to accuse Mohammed bin Salman of peddling a revisionist history of Saudi Arabia’s past.
He knew that his writings put him in danger.
In a May 21 column for The Washington Post, he wrote: “We are expected to vigorously applaud social reforms and heap praise on the crown prince while avoiding any reference to the pioneering Saudis who dared to address these issues decades ago.
“We are being asked to abandon any hope of political freedom, and to keep quiet about arrests and travel bans that impact not only the critics but also their families.
Jamal is the nephew of late Adnan Khashoggi, an infamous arms dealer who used to be a key player in the Middle East and is said to have close relations with many prominent figures. In the 1960’s, Adnan made a name for himself by brokering arms deals between Riyadh and Washington.
Reportedly also having close ties with late Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, Adnan became a prominent figure in Middle East politics.
Adnan was implicated in the Iran-Contra affair and suspected of being the middleman who brokered back-door arms sales to embargoed Iran during the Reagan administration.
The Washington Post described Khashoggi as one of the “eminent thinkers in their fields and countries”.
His colleague at the Post Jason Rezaian wrote that Khashoggi presented to readers “insightful commentary and sharp criticism about the seemingly impenetrable country.
“But despite his criticisms of his homeland, Jamal consistently expressed his love for it and his desire to return, always reiterating his belief that Saudi Arabia could and would do better,” Rezaian said.
- Jamal Khashoggi Biography And Profile