Exclusive: Jamal Khashoggi was caught up in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s attempts to consolidate his power, eliminate rival royals, and seize the assets of his country’s billionaires
The dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared after entering his nation’s consulate in Istanbul may have run afoul of the Saudi leadership over family business dealings rather than his public criticism of the kingdom, sources have told The Independent.
Jamal Khashoggi, scion of a powerful Saudi family, was caught up in the paranoid machinations of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, in his zeal to consolidate his power, eliminate rival royals, and seize the assets of his country’s billionaires to finance his ambitious vision for the kingdom, according to two sources.
“It was decided that Jamal no longer had protection,” said one source, a businessperson based abroad who said he was told by a senior Saudi royal family member that the prince wanted to question Mr Khashoggi over whether he was collaborating with powerful royal factions seeking to weaken his rule. “There is no middle ground in the court now. You are either friend or enemy. For Jamal, he got caught in the middle.”
A US-based analyst with extensive ties to the kingdom cited Saudi sources as saying that Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance was rooted not in what he had written or nuanced public criticism of the Saudi leadership but in his proximity to power. “It was not about his position as a journalist and what he was saying, but his position in broader Saudi society,” the analyst said, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to continue being able to travel to Saudi Arabia.
The global uproar over the alleged Saudi operation against Mr Khashoggi has rattled the kingdom, insiders say, spurring talk of a leadership crisis within the upper echelons of power. Saudi authorities have denied involvement in any attempt to harm Mr Khashoggi, and many Saudis say they feel besieged, with both supporters and critics of the royal family suddenly fearful for the future and reputation of the kingdom.