One of the most influential Arab journalists in the world, Jamal Khashoggi, went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. Turkish authorities have blamed the Saudis, but Riyadh has denied harming the veteran reporter.
Jamal Khashoggi, 59, was born in Medina, Saudi Arabia, one of the holiest cities in Islam. Like many Saudis at the time, Khashoggi left to study abroad. He earned a business administration degree in 1983 at Indiana State University in the United States.
Career in journalism
Khashoggi began his career as a reporter for the English language newspaper Saudi Gazette. He went on to work for several Arab newspapers and made his mark as a foreign correspondent covering Afghanistan, Algeria, Sudan and the Middle East in the 1990s. During that time, he met and befriended Osama bin Laden, who was fighting in Afghanistan against the Russians. Khashoggi interviewed bin Laden several times during that period.
He was deputy editor-in-chief of Arab News, the leading English newspaper of Saudi Arabia, from 1999 to 2003. He was named editor-in-chief of the Al Watan newspaper in 2003 but the job lasted only two months.
After he was fired from Al Watan, Khashoggi became media adviser to Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal, the former head of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate, who served as the Saudi ambassador to Washington from 2005 until the end of 2006.
On his personal website, Khashoggi writes he was reinstated as editor-in-chief at Al Watan in 2007 and served for three years before being fired again for “pushing the boundaries of debate within Saudi society.”
In 2010 he was made general manager of a new 24-hour Arabic news channel, Al-Arab, in Manama, Bahrain. The news channel was ordered off the air within 11 hours of its launch.
Since then, Khashoggi has been a political commentator, appearing on several Arab and international news channels and writing for a number of publications and on social media.
He went into a self-imposed exile in the United States last year, fearing for his safety after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began consolidating his position and cracking down on critics. He told Al Jazeera TV’s Upfront in March that he left the kingdom “because I don’t want to be arrested.”
Khashoggi comes from a powerful and well-known family in Saudi Arabia. He is the grandson of Muhammad Khashoggi, a Turkish doctor who married a Saudi woman and served as the personal physician for King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the founder of the kingdom.
Jamal Khashoggi is the nephew of Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi businessman and arms dealer known for his part in the Iran-Contra scandal. Adnan Khashoggi was the middleman in the arms-for-hostages deal. In the 1980s, Adnan Khashoggi was estimated to have a net worth of $4 billion.
Jamal Khashoggi’s cousin, Dodi Fayed, was dating Britain’s Princess Diana when the two were killed in a car crash in Paris.