EXCLUSIVE: Jamal Khashoggi has been in Mohammed bin Salman’s crosshairs for THREE YEARS after he was part of TV station started by hated rival Prince Alwaleed, reveals royal adviser
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman began disliking murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi back in 2015, a royal adviser said
- Canadian businessman Alan Bender said an incident between the Crown Prince and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal threw him into Mohammed’s crosshairs
- Bender told DailyMail.com: ‘Jamal told me, as long as he’s alive in Saudi Arabia, please don’t talk about what we are talking about. Now he’s gone, so I can say it’
- Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was launching a TV station based in Bahrain and he had recruited Khashoggi to be the face of Al Arab
- Prince Mohammed sent the journalist to issue a warning to his royal rival that ‘MBS will be watching so watch your mouth’
- Bender said Khashoggi told Alwaleed: ‘You are extending a strong arm with this station. It isn’t in MBS’ interests to allow you to have this power in the media’
- But Alwaleed ignored the advice and ordered Khashoggi to proceed with the TV station plans, which launched in February 2015, but was shut down within hours
- The Gulf negotiator claims that the incident set Khashoggi as an enemy in Prince Mohammed’s mind, and sowed the seeds for his murder this month
- ‘It added to MBS’ animosity towards Jamal, because Jamal is telling MBS that he is going with Alwaleed,’ Bender said
The Saudi Crown Prince’s animosity towards murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi goes back as far as 2015, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Khashoggi became a marked man three years ago when he was caught in a struggle between two opposing factions in the Saudi royal family, according to a businessman close to the Gulf royals.
Canadian businessman Alan Bender was at a meeting in January 2015, which sparked a feud which would lead to the round-up and torture of several princes, and Khashoggi’s brutal killing.
Bender, who has spent more than 15 years as a negotiator for many royals in the Middle East, had been invited to Switzerland to meet with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, worth as much as $17.1 billion, to negotiate a settlement between him and his alleged secret wife – a deal exposed by DailyMail.com last year.
Khashoggi, who was working for Prince Alwaleed at the time, joined the two men at a mountaintop resort in Verbier.
Bender said the journalist had traveled for hours from Bahrain to deliver a message to Alwaleed from the king’s son, Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Saudi Crown Prince’s animosity towards murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi goes back as far as 2015, DailyMail.com can reveal
Khashoggi became a marked man three years ago when he was caught in a struggle between two opposing factions in the Saudi royal family, according to a businessman close to the royals
Prince Alwaleed recruited Khashoggi to be the face of Al Arab, a new TV station, but Prince Mohammed sent the journalist to issue a warning to his royal rival to stop his plans. But Prince Alwaleed ignored the warning. Pictured: Alwaleed and Bender in Switzerland in 2015
A week earlier, Prince Mohammed had made his first major step towards seizing power in Saudi Arabia, having been appointed Minister of Defense and special adviser to his father, King Salman.
Khashoggi had flitted between the most senior power brokers in the kingdom for years, working for senior royal family member Prince Turki bin Abdullah in his roles as ambassador to the U.S. and the UK.
In 2015, Prince Alwaleed, at the time thought to be the country’s richest royal and a major investor in a series of corporate and tech giants, recruited Khashoggi to be the face of Al Arab, his new TV station based in Bahrain.
But this new job threw the Saudi journalist into the crossfire of a battle for supremacy in the kingdom.
‘Jamal told me, as long as he’s alive in Saudi Arabia, please don’t talk about what we are talking about. Now he’s gone, so I can say it,’ said Bender.
‘Jamal told me, as long as he’s alive in Saudi Arabia, please don’t talk about what we are talking about. Now he’s gone, so I can say it,’ said Bender (pictured)
‘He had a message from MBS (Mohammed bin Salman) to Alwaleed, that MBS will be watching so watch your mouth. He sent Jamal to deliver that warning to Alwaleed in Switzerland.
‘Alwaleed thought that by launching Al Arab, MBS will try to gain his approval and friendship, because he has this TV station outside the control of Saudi jurisdiction. Bulls**t.
‘I said to Alwaleed, ”I don’t think this TV station is going to last a month”. Jamal nodded his head in agreement.
‘He said [to Alwaleed], ”Your highness, we already got a warning. MBS is watching, and you are extending an even stronger arm with this TV station. It is not in MBS’ best interests to allow you to have this kind of power in the media.”’
Prince Alwaleed ignored the advice, and ordered Khashoggi to proceed with the TV station launch, Bender said. So Khashoggi left, catching a helicopter down to Geneva and flying back out to Bahrain.
The station launched on February 1, 2015 but was shut down within hours by the Bahraini government at the behest of Prince Mohammed, Bender said.
The Gulf negotiator claims that the incident set Khashoggi as an enemy in Prince Mohammed’s mind, and sowed the seeds for his demise this month.
‘It added to MBS’ animosity towards Jamal, because Jamal is telling MBS that he is going with Alwaleed,’ Bender told DailyMail.com.
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Prince Alwaleed ignored the advice, and ordered Khashoggi to proceed with the TV station launch, Bender said. The Gulf negotiator claims that the incident set Khashoggi as an enemy in Prince Mohammed’s mind, and sowed the seeds for his demise this month
Bender said Khashoggi was aware of the danger he was in, and knew a coup was coming. Pictured: The murdered journalist as he arrives at Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in Istanbul on October 2
‘Alwaleed belongs to a different group within the Saudi ruling family. A group of Alwaleed, Prince Talal his father, Mohammed Bin Nayef and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah.’
Bender said Khashoggi was aware of the danger he was in, and knew a coup was coming.
He said he spoke to the journalist about ‘the conflict in the royal family, the conflict between Alwaleed and MBS, and why MBS is going to slap Alwaleed.’
In September last year Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia, two months before Prince Mohammed ordered a crackdown that saw Prince Alwaleed and several other royals detained and allegedly tortured in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton.
‘Jamal didn’t want me to tell anybody what I heard, because he said ‘as long as I’m living in Saudi Arabia, I can be squashed by MBS.’ So I kept my mouth shut. But now he’s gone,’ said Bender.
During the Saudi crackdown in December, Bender said he was summoned by MBS to Saudi Arabia to confront a detained Alwaleed with allegations of corruption.
Bender said he spoke to Alwaleed via a video conference, and that the prince appeared to be in a prison cell.
In September last year Khashoggi fled Saudi Arabia, two months before Prince Mohammed ordered a crackdown that saw Prince Alwaleed (pictured) and several other royals detained and allegedly tortured in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton
‘He was brought in through the teleconference and was sat down,’ Bender said. ‘We were looking at each other face to face. He didn’t look comfortable. He was unshaven, he didn’t look in his best condition at all.
‘He looked tired, a lot of twitching. It looked more like a detention room or something related to a jail cell. Even the sounds of the doors sliding back and forth, it didn’t sound like he was at the Ritz Carlton,’ said the businessman.
Alwaleed was later released, and has since publicly pledged his allegiance and support to Prince Mohammed.
He has denied allegations of corruption, and said that he was not tortured but merely kept in the Ritz for several days as part of a ‘misunderstanding’ with the Saudi government.
The circumstances of his release and what deal he struck with MBS remain unclear. A settlement of $6 billion has been widely reported, and Alwaleed has declined to confirm or deny it.
It is also unclear whether he remains entirely in charge of Kingdom Holdings or is acting as a figurehead with the MBS actually in control.
Since he was freed, Kingdom Holdings has sold hotel holdings including the Swiss hotel chain Movenpick, but has also made new investments, including a 2.3 per cent holding in Snap, the parent company of Snapchat.
The murder of Jamal Khashoggi: Key moments surrounding the writer’s disappearance and death
Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote critically of the kingdom’s policies and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say a 15-men team tortured, killed and dismembered the writer, while Saudi Arabia says he died in a ‘fistfight.’
Here are some key moments in the slaying of the Washington Post columnist:
BEFORE HIS DISAPPEARANCE
September 2017: The Post publishes the first column by Khashoggi in its newspaper, in which the former royal court insider and longtime journalist writes about going into a self-imposed exile in the U.S. over the rise of Prince Mohammed. His following columns criticize the prince and the kingdom’s direction.
September 28, 2018: Over a year after the Post published his first column, Khashoggi visits the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, seeking documents in order to get married. He’s later told to return October 2, his fiancee Hatice Cengiz says. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a plan or a ‘road map’ to kill Khashoggi was devised in Saudi Arabia during this time.
September 29: Khashoggi travels to London and speaks at a conference.
October 1: Khashoggi returns to Istanbul. At around 4.30pm, a three-person Saudi team arrives in Istanbul on a scheduled flight, checks in to their hotels then visits the consulate, according to Erdogan. The Turkish president says another group of officials from the consulate travel to a forest in Istanbul’s outskirts and to the nearby city of Yalova on a ‘reconnaissance’ trip.
Jamal Khashoggi (right) arriving at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2
THE DAY OF HIS DISAPPEARANCE
3.28am, October 2: A private jet arrives at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport carrying some members of what Turkish media will refer to as a 15-member Saudi ‘assassination squad.’ Other members of the team arrive by two commercial flights in the afternoon. Erdogan says the team includes Saudi security and intelligence officials and a forensics expert. They meet at the Saudi Consulate. One of the first things they do is to dismantle a hard disk connected to the consulate’s camera system, the president says.
11.50am: Khashoggi is called to confirm his appointment at the consulate later that day, Erdogan says.
1.14pm: Surveillance footage later leaked to Turkish media shows Khashoggi walking into the main entrance of the Saudi Consulate. No footage made public ever shows him leaving. His fiancee waits outside, pacing for hours.
3.07pm: Surveillance footage shows vehicles with diplomatic license plates leaving the Saudi Consulate for the consul general’s home some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.
5.50pm: Khashoggi’s fiancee alerts authorities, saying he may have been forcibly detained inside the consulate or that something bad may have happened to him, according to Erdogan.
7pm: A private plane from Saudi Arabia carries six members of the alleged Saudi squad from Istanbul to Cairo, the next day returning to Riyadh.
11pm: Seven members of the alleged Saudi squad leave on another private jet to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which the next day returns to Riyadh. Two others leave by commercial flights.
Erdogan confirms reports that a ‘body double’ – a man wearing Khashoggi’s clothes, glasses and a beard – leaves the consulate building for Riyadh with another person on a scheduled flight later that day.
CCTV images showed a a private jet alleged to have been used by a group of Saudi men suspected of being involved in Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death
October 3: Khashoggi’s fiancee and the Post go public with his disappearance. Saudi Arabia says Khashoggi visited the consulate and exited shortly thereafter. Turkish officials suggest Khashoggi might still be in the consulate. Prince Mohammed tells Bloomberg: ‘We have nothing to hide.’
October 4: Saudi Arabia says on its state-run news agency that the consulate is carrying out ‘follow-up procedures and coordination with the Turkish local authorities to uncover the circumstances of the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after he left the consulate building.’
October 5: The Post prints a blank column in its newspaper in solidarity with Khashoggi, headlined: ‘A missing voice.’
October 6: The Post, citing anonymous Turkish officials, reports Khashoggi may have been killed in the consulate in a ‘preplanned murder’ by a Saudi team.
October 7: A friend of Khashoggi tells the AP that officials told him the writer was killed at the consulate. The consulate rejects what it calls ‘baseless allegations.’
October 8: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Turkey is summoned over Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged killing.
October 9: Turkey says it will search the Saudi Consulate as a picture of Khashoggi walking into the diplomatic post surfaces.
October 10: Surveillance footage is leaked of Khashoggi and the alleged Saudi squad that killed him. Khashoggi’s fiancee asks President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump for help.
October 11: Turkish media describes Saudi squad as including royal guards, intelligence officers, soldiers and an autopsy expert. Trump calls Khashoggi’s disappearance a ‘bad situation’ and promises to get to the bottom of it.
October 12: Trump again pledges to find out what happened to Khashoggi.
October 13: A pro-government newspaper reports that Turkish officials have an audio recording of Khashoggi’s alleged killing from his Apple Watch, but details in the report come into question.
October 14: Trump says that ‘we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment’ if Saudi Arabia is involved. The kingdom responds with a blistering attack against those who threaten it, as the manager of a Saudi-owned satellite news channel suggests the country could retaliate through its oil exports. The Saudi stock exchange plunges as much as 7 percent at one point.
Khashoggi (pictured), went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul
October 15: A Turkish forensics team enters and searches the Saudi Consulate, an extraordinary development as such diplomatic posts are considered sovereign soil. Trump suggests after a call with Saudi King Salman that ‘rogue killers’ could be responsible for Khashoggi’s alleged slaying. Trump says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to the Mideast over the case. Meanwhile, business leaders say they won’t attend an economic summit in the kingdom that’s the brainchild of Prince Mohammed.
October 16: A high-level Turkish official tells the AP that ‘certain evidence’ was found in the Saudi Consulate proving Khashoggi was killed there. Pompeo arrives for meetings in Saudi Arabia with King Salman and Prince Mohammed. Meanwhile, Trump compares the case to the appointment of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, saying: ‘Here we go again with you’re guilty until proven innocent.’
October 17: Pompeo meets with Turkey’s president and foreign minister in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Turkish police search the official residence of Saudi Arabia’s consul general in Istanbul and conduct a second sweep of the consulate.
October 18: A leaked surveillance photograph shows a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage walked into the consulate just before Khashoggi vanished there.
October 20: Saudi Arabia for the first time acknowledges Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, claiming he was slain in a ‘fistfight.’ The claim draws immediate skepticism from the kingdom’s Western allies, particularly in the U.S. Congress.
October 22: A report says a member of Prince Mohammed’s entourage made four calls to the royal’s office around the time Khashoggi was killed. Police search a vehicle belonging to the Saudi consulate parked at an underground garage in Istanbul.
October 23: Erdogan says Saudi officials murdered Khashoggi after plotting his death for days, demanding that Saudi Arabia reveal the identities of all involved.
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