In Secret Final Interview, Jamal Khashoggi Says Only Bernie Sanders Was Willing To Stand Up To Saudi Arabia

He had also criticized the Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman of not being open to religious reforms.

Bernie Sanders is the only American political leader who called for putting pressure on MBS, Jamal Khashoggi had said.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

He had also criticized the Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman of not being open to religious reforms.

Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist who was brutally killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey, gave a secret last and wide-ranging interview to Newsweek’s Rula Jebreal. The transcript of the interview was unpublished up until yesterday when Newsweek reported about Khashoggi’s thinking on the reforms carried out by Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, as well as on Khashoggi’s belief that the only important American political leader who was calling to put more pressure on Saudi Arabia was Bernie Sanders.

Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 when he went to collect some paperwork in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Soon, reports quoting Turkish investigators suggested that the Saudi Arabian administration had sent agents to brutalize and kill Khashoggi. The New York Times, citing an audio recording of the incident, reported that Khashoggi had been dismembered at the consulate, with one of Saudi Arabia’s most-known forensic experts leading the task to get rid of the body.

Khashoggi’s murder sent shockwaves in the international community, with leaders all over the world calling Mohammad Bin Salman to launch an investigation into the killing, even as Donald Trump continued to hail the prince for what the American president said were “credible” responses to the incident.

Trump said that the killing of a journalist is not enough reason to cut off ties with America’s most important ally in the Middle East, which is also a big buyer of American arms. Bernie Sanders, who lost to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Democratic race, however, called on the U.S. to re-evaluate its ties with the Wahabbi Islamic nation.

“I have long been troubled by the nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” Sanders said in a video posted on Twitter.

“And in light of the likely Saudi murder of critic Jamal Khashoggi, I think it is time for us to thoroughly re-evaluate that relationship. Saudi Arabia is, and has always been, a despotic dictatorship in which dissent is not tolerated, in which women are considered third-class citizens and which has spent the last several decades exporting an extreme form of Islam, Wahhabism, around the world.”

And now Khashoggi’s last interview published in Newsweek shows that the journalist desired for more American leaders to become tougher with Saudi Arabia and that he, in fact, admired Sanders for standing up to the Middle Eastern country.

“First of all, there is no political movement in Saudi Arabia that could pressure him, number one,” Khashoggi said about the possibility of combining the extreme view of Islam that Saudi Arabia espouses with its king’s newfound intent to liberalize society.

“And the world is happy with him. Do you see anybody in America except for Bernie Sanders who is calling for putting pressure on MBS? I only saw Bernie Sanders, but no one else.”

Khashoggi had also spoken about the impossibility of overthrowing the Saudi Arabian government, having watched the royal court in action for a long time. Instead, he told the interviewer that Mohammad Bin Salman must bring in judicial reforms to Saudi Arabia, something Wahabbi Islam prohibits.

“Why does MBS not see that part of reform?” Khashoggi said. “Because it will limit his authoritarian rule, and he doesn’t want that. He doesn’t see the need for that. So sometimes I feel that…he wants to enjoy the fruits of First World modernity and Silicon Valley and cinemas and everything, but at the same time he wants also to rule like how his grandfather ruled Saudi Arabia.”