“I knew Jamal Khashoggi,” Fareed Zakaria says toward the end of the one-hour special about the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, its religious extremism and autocratic rule, and the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Fifteen years ago, when Zakaria traveled there for a cover story for Newsweek, called “The Saudi Trap,” Khashoggii was one of the people who briefed him, Fareed explains in this clip.
That Zakaria cover story began “The images of a beheaded Paul Johnson are gruesome, but for Saudi Arabia, it has been more than a year of grim images” because the Saudi news in the U.S. back then was about the kidnapping, and beheading of Johnson, an American helicopter engineer, whose his head reportedly was found in a refrigerator.
More recently, Khashoggi was executed and cut up with a saw, when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The CIA
has concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered his assassination, though President Donald Trump is not buying it.
“I reacted to his death personally, viscerally, with a sense of horror and disgust, but also great sadness for the loss of a friend,” Zakaria acknowledges of his fellow WaPo columnist, as he addresses viewers directly about the special.
Saudi Arabia: Kingdom of Secrets looks at the ascension of MBS two years ago, amidst a flurry of positive headlines about reforms in the desert kingdom after its dark legacy of 9/11 and images of terrorism. MBS got brownie points for stripping religious police of some power and allowing women to drive. And his support from the Trump administration was cemented when POTUS made Saudi Arabia his first foreign trip, while MBS got super chummy with First Son-In-Law Jared Kushner.
Meanwhile, MBS arrested hundreds and cracked down on political dissension – including ordering the assassination of Khashoggi in Istanbul, the CIA has concluded.
The one-hour special premieres on CNN Sunday, March 3 at 8 PM and 11 PM. It will air on CNN International Sunday and Monday.