An Oct. 21 WorldNetDaily article is nothing but a borderline-libelous smear job against an journalist involved in a joint venture with Bloomberg.
The curiously unbylined article (we're guessing F. Michael Maloof was involved somewhere) begins:
"I met Osama in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), and ever since, I developed a close relationship with him."
Who said this? Bin Laden's second in command? No, it's New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new business partner.
His name is Jamal A. Khashoggi, and he's heading the recently announced joint media venture between Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Bloomberg News.
That's right -- WND is portraying Khashoggi as "Bin Laden's second in command."
In a recent Arab press interview, Khashoggi revealed he grew up in Saudi Arabia with the late al-Qaida leader inside the radical Muslim Brotherhood, a secretive movement whose credo is "Jihad is our way; Death in the cause of Allah our highest ambition."
He says he spent time with bin Laden in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and later in Sudan. The close friends shared a dream of a pan-Islamic nation.
"We were young Muslim activists who believed in our responsibility to support Islam and create an Islamic state," said Khashoggi, who previously worked for Saudi's intelligence minister (who also met with bin Laden in Afghanistan before 9/11).
"I was a Muslim Brotherhood type (and believed that by) establishing the Islamic system throughout, it will lead to the (return of the) caliphate," explained Khashoggi, who now calls himself a "neo-Islamist." "Now, I believe this is the work of God. If God wants (the caliphate) to happen, he will make it happen."
Note the vague reference to "a recent Arab press interview." That refusal to specify where the interview came from (or a link to it) is a clear indication that WND has something to hide.
And what is WND hiding? The fact that Khashoggi stopped being a "Muslim activist" long ago, has had no contact with bin Laden for years, and has denounced bin Laden's extremism. From the interivew, conducted in January with a magazine called Majalla:
Q: When did you last see or speak with [bin Laden]?
It was in 1995 in Khartoum. In that time, he was in the opposition. He had turned against his country. And I went with coordination with his family in order for him to denounce violence in Saudi Arabia. So we could break the ice and start a reconciliation which could lead him to come back to Saudi Arabia.
And he did denounce the terrorist acts in the discussion I had with him. But he would not let me have it on the record … and I flew back to Jeddah. That was the last time I saw him or spoke to him.
Q: What did you believe in when you were active in the Islamic movement?
I was a Muslim Brotherhood type [and believed that by] establishing the Islamic system throughout, it will lead to the [return of the] caliphate.
Now, I believe this is the work of God. If God wants [the caliphate] to happen, He will make it happen. But it is not really my work.
Why did I come to this conclusion? I saw how Muslim activists and Muslim leaders, how they fight, they assassinate, they lie, just like any other politicians. The other conclusion I came up with [is that] creating an Islamic state will lead to forcing people into accepting God, accepting a certain role, certain practices. And that defies the freedom which God wants us to enjoy. I will never enjoy my prayer if I am forced to go to the mosque to pray.
Q: Was this a gradual change in your ideas?
It was a gradual process…in my 30s. I would say it started after 1992 when the Afghans began killing each other in a very brutal way. [Then came] the events of Algeria, the failure in Sudan.
I still have a great respect and I think there should be always a role for religion in our life. And a role for Islam in our life. But I will never work for a state run by clerics and religious people.
I think most Islamic movements see the Turkish [Islamic] movement as the example because it is a success story. And the Turkish model is the model which will allow the Egyptian [Islamic] movement, for example, to claim victory. Let’s assume that one day the Ikhwan won in Egypt. They will have a serious problem with the economy, what to do with the tourist industry. The Turkish model has the solution.
Look, we cannot reverse history. The women in Syria 60 years ago were under the veil. No way are they going to go back there. That tradition of the past which some Islamists have nostalgic views of, when women were totally separated from the men and men were dominant, this will never come back again. This is a different time. If anybody of the Islamic movement anywhere will try to do that he will start immediately an opposition among the people and he will have to subject the people by force and by jail, like what the Iranians are doing.
Khashoggi is repeatedly on record as denouncing bin Laden. Froma May 2 Arab News article:
Khashoggi said he felt sorry that Bin Laden chose the wrong path when he was at the crossroads of history. “He hijacked our religion and chose the path of violence. I remember how we were all in the grip of violence in the early and mid-2000s, here in Saudi Arabia, Algeria … there were suicide bombings, bomb blasts, killings. His ideology did not conform with my understanding of Islam,” he said.
Khashoggi said had Bin Laden been a good reader of history and if he had had a chance to go on air he would have definitely admitted defeat after the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt. “The Arab youth took the path of nonviolence to effect change in their countries. Nonviolence is in total variance with the Al-Qaeda ideology … Osama and his men believed in violence … nothing but violence — no reconciliation — no dialogue.”
In an interview on CNN after bin Laden's death, Khashoggi said that bin Laden "did a damaging effect to Islam, two important things. The indiscriminate killing of innocent people, which is a big taboo, a big mistake in Islam, and the other thing is suicidal attacks. Suicidal attacks, suicidal bombings is killing us, we the Muslims, damaging us the Muslims. And I just don't understand how he could tolerate sitting in his house in Islamabad and hear about a young Muslim entering a mosque in Peshawar and blowing up himself. That is totally absurd in Islam, it is totally absurd. By killing the innocent Muslims at the mosque and killing yourself, it's just -- I would never imagine sitting with Osama bin Laden in 1985 or up to '95 that he would allow or justify something as ugly, as horrific as that."
At no point does WND report any of this about Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was fired last year as editor of Saudi Arabia's leading newspaper reportedly for criticising Saudi Arabia's conservative application of Islam and the religious police who enforce adherence to it -- which further undermines WND's smear job.
WND also plucked out of context Khashoggi's praise of Wahhabism; in fact, he was demonstrating how his own Wahhabi beliefs differ from the more extreme version Saudi Arabia is notorious for, and how they played a role in his firing from the newspaper:
Q: What led to your second departure from Al-Watan?
[There was an] article which was addressing the concept of sufism and salafism and respecting shrines. It dealt with a sensitive issue in relation to our salafi indoctrination background. I wasn’t in the paper that day, and if I saw that article, I would have stopped it from publishing, even though I still say it is some writer’s reflection on the issue. He wasn’t calling for respecting shrines.
Why would I not have published it? Because it’s not crucial to the debate. It’s not crucial to the development of Saudi Arabia. I’m willing to stick my neck out for an issue like women’s driving or women’s empowerment or reforming the [school] curriculum because that will have a positive impact on Saudi life. But really, what we think about shrines has no positive impact. In fact I am against shrines. I don’t believe in shrines. What I admire the most in Wahhabism is that it empowers me to reach God directly without the need of anybody else. And I like that and I call that positive Wahhabism.
WND also takes a couple low blows at New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the joint venture, which is being funded in part by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is also a major shareholder in Fox News parent News Corp.The article asserts that "Critics fear the venture could serve as a platform for bin Talal's notoriously anti-Israel agenda" and that "Critics say the mayor is chasing Arab petrodollars as his own business empire struggles amid the U.S. recession" -- but nowhere are the "critics" named. Indeed, there isn't a named source for any of the article's major claims, just reference to anonymous "critics" and "sources."
WND's reckless and dishonest attack has all the trappings of a defamation lawsuit in the making -- and possibly even a libel lawsuit.