Sebastian Gorka compared Jamal Khashoggi to the leader of al-Qaeda and said the Saudi journalist was “best friends with Osama Bin Laden” during an appearance on C-SPAN.
Gorka, a former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, was responding to news that a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. voted to rename the street in front of the Saudi embassy after Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“Why would you name a street after a man who was best friends with Osama Bin Laden and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood?” Gorka said on Sunday.
“Yes he was murdered, and that was unjust, that was wrong, but this is not some saint and champion of democracy. His last article for The Washington Post was about the need for theocracy and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Would we rename streets in D.C. after Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaeda? Would we rename streets after KSM, the mastermind of the 9/11 hijacking? It’s a little peculiar to say the least.”
Khashoggi knew Bin Laden, who orchestrated the 9/11 terror attacks and led the Islamist militant group al-Qaeda, from the early 1980s when the latter fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
As a journalist, Khashoggi then interviewed Bin Laden multiple times over his career.
When Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan, Khashoggi lamented that the terror leader was once “beautiful and brave” but had “surrendered to hatred and passion,” The New York Times reported.
The column to which Gorka refers was not Khashoggi’s last, but one of his last before his murder at the hands of a Saudi hit squad, who attacked him after he entered the consulate seeking documents relating to his marriage in early October.
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is suspected by his critics and American intelligence agencies of directing the murder, though he denies it. Khashoggi, who once worked as a spokesman for the Saudi royals, was a critic of the country’s regime.
In that column, Khashoggi is critical of America’s handling of the coup in Egypt, during which the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood—a conservative party with links to extremism and violence—was deposed and military rule reimposed by by President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi.
“The United States’s aversion to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is more apparent in the current Trump administration, is the root of a predicament across the entire Arab world,” Khashoggi wrote in the column, published on August 28.
“The eradication of the Muslim Brotherhood is nothing less than an abolition of democracy and a guarantee that Arabs will continue living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes…
“There can be no political reform and democracy in any Arab country without accepting that political Islam is a part of it. A significant number of citizens in any given Arab country will give their vote to Islamic political parties if some form of democracy is allowed.”
Gorka also defended how President Trump has responded to Khashoggi’s murder. Trump has equivocated on whether the crown prince is ultimately responsible for Khashoggi’s slaying, saying he may or may not be.
But Trump strongly defended America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, pointing to its commercial significance.
The Saudis are big purchasers of arms from America and also large investors in the country. Moreover, Trump wants oil prices to fall, and Saudi Arabia is a prominent member of OPEC, the oil cartel.
“As a former deputy to the president, yes, this is absolutely how you do it,” Gorka said. “We have to get to the bottom of it. We have to have some consequences for the Saudi regime because this is clearly some form of extrajudicial execution.
“Who ordered it? We do not know yet. But the idea that we’re going to turn the Middle East upside down because one bad individual was murdered, that is antithetical to strategic thought just as we have Iran back in its box.
“Just as we have Saudi Arabia—think of this, MBS gave an interview in The Atlantic not so long ago where he said—this is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia—Israel has a right to exist.
“That’s monumental. That is a direct result of the president’s speech in Riyadh that called out the Muslim and Arab world to get their house in order.
“So these are amazing, amazing results. We must respond in a way that doesn’t endanger them but at the end of the day sends a signal to Riyadh.”
Former deputy assistant to President Trump Sebastian Gorka participates in a discussion during the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center February 24, 2017 in National Harbor, Maryland. Alex Wong/Getty Images
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