No leader with judgment and knowledge of the world would have ordered the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In October of 2018, when the Saudi Crown Prince and prime mover Mohamed bin Salman dispatched his kill team to Turkey to dispose of Khashoggi, his target was probably the best known, most respected journalist in the Arabic-speaking world.
Jamal Khashoggi was famous among Arabic-speakers as a fighter for real news. He made news himself as the head of a short-lived television news channel based in Bahrain, but was already well known as the editor of Arab News, and again briefly, of Al Watan, an influential newspaper based in Saudi Arabia. But before that, his byline had become a brand of great frontline reporting from Afghanistan to Algeria, Sudan to Kuwait, and his homeland, Saudi Arabia. In American terms, he was a kind of Arabic combination of Ben Bradlee and Edward R. Murrow.
In English, he was growing real fame as a regular contributor to the Washington Post. The Jamal Khashoggi brand was truly global, reaching readers wherever the Post is read, on paper and online. He was a perfect example of a phrase dear to my heart: “too hot to hit.”
For failing to understand that, for brazenly killing this fabled, admired newsman, MbS is paying a price in global contempt. Only friends you can buy like American president Donald Trump and the financial thugs of Davos will be seen anywhere near him.
And more than his reputation is hurting: his closest international ally, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President and Military Commander of the United Arab Emirates has stepped away, leaving the Saudi prince holding an exploding bag of excrement in Yemen, and aside from the abominable Trump-man, leaving him without allies in his obsessive war-mongering with Iran.
There are more embarrassments to come. Crimes leave fingerprints, and the all-too-public murder of Jamal Khashoggi, recorded on audio, the victim and the perpetrators captured on video, the evidence of MbS’ connection to it strong enough to convince every intelligence chief who’s examined it, is not just resonant in itself, it suggests other cases, other crimes, other victims – some only intended, and therefore still around to talk with interested reporters.
Ayman Mohyeldin is a Foreign Correspondent for NBC News and an anchor for MSNBC based in New York.
Previously, Mohyeldin was based in the Middle East with NBC News. Prior to NBC News, Mohyeldin was a Middle East-based correspondent for Al Jazeera English where his coverage of the Egyptian revolution and the fall of the Mubarak regime was recognized and praised for its distinction around the world. For five years, Mohyeldin reported from Europe, the U.S. and across the Middle East where he covered major conflicts, including everything from the Arab revolutions, the siege on Gaza, sectarian strife in Lebanon, Israeli politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and human rights abuses in the Arabian Gulf.
Before joining Al Jazeera English in 2006, Mohyeldin worked for Fox News and CNN. Based in Baghdad, he reported on the immediate aftermath of the US-led invasion of Iraq. While there, Mohyeldin covered the daily struggle of ordinary Iraqis and embedded with the U.S. military to cover the Iraqi insurgency. Mohyeldin was among the few international journalists allowed to observe and report on the U.S. handover of Saddam Hussein to an Iraqi judge.
Mohyeldin began his career in journalism in 2001 at NBC News in Washington, where as Desk Assistant he participated in the coverage of the inauguration of President George W. Bush, the September 11th attacks and the war in Afghanistan.
Time Magazine named Mohyeldin as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2011, he has received multiple Emmy and International Media Award nominations, was the recipient of the 2011 Cutting Edge Media Award and Argentina’s prestigious Perfil International Press Freedom Award.
Mohyeldin is a graduate of American University in Washington D.C. and holds a master’s in International Politics with a focus on Peace and Conflict Resolution. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Mohyeldin grew up in Detroit; Amman, Jordan; and Marietta, Georgia.