Jamal Khashoggi, an exiled Saudi Arabian living in Northern Virginia and working as a journalist for the Washington Post, was looking forward to a happy life with his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz. They had begun buying home appliances and making wedding preparations, and things seemed to be falling into place.
Then, Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to get some marriage license paperwork. He never came back out. That was on October 2nd.
Weeks later, audio and visual recordings have been released that show Khashoggi was grotesquely tortured, interrogated, and murdered by high-level Saudi Arabian government officials inside the consulate. We now even know that the Crown Prince's top hitmen placed Mr. Khashoggi on a table, turned on music to drown out his screaming, and started sawing off his limbs while he was still alive.
Leaders around the world have reacted with disgust, outrage, and shock. France's Foreign Ministry is demanding answers; British businessman Richard Branson is pulling back on two major tourism projects in Saudi Arabia; business and media leaders are pulling out of a major Saudi investment conference; and Turkey is launching a full investigation. Meanwhile, Ms. Cengiz has penned an op-ed begging U.S. President Trump to help get to the bottom of what happened.
But Donald Trump has been reluctant to take action, because Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has become a great friend of his — and of his son-in-law Jared. Instead, Trump immediately ruled out cancelling U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Let's be clear on what's happening here: A US resident has been murdered simply because he was a journalist expressing his opinion. And he was murdered in violation of international law inside of a consulate — where it is illegal to harm, arrest, or detain individuals. But all Donald Trump can think about is his precious trade deal with a brutal strongman.
This shouldn't be all that surprising to us. Trump has always shown a fondness for thuggish dictators like Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and North Korean President Kim Jong-un. That's why he even signed the $110 billion defense deal with Saudi Arabia in May 2017 in the first place: as "an endorsement of the strong relationship" between him and Prince bin Salman.
We must speak out against this, and loud enough that Donald Trump can hear. The Saudi Arabian government has murdered one of its own citizens, a journalist, while on protected diplomatic soil. Trump must immediately stop all weapons sales to Saudi Arabia in condemnation of this ruthless execution!