On October 19, 2018 Saudi government officials finally confirmed that Jamal Khashoggi was dead. Saudi officials claimed that the 59-year-old Khashoggi had been killed in a fist fight with officials when he visited the Saudi embassy in Istanbul earlier this month. Turkish officials said that Khashoggi, an outspoken opponent of the Saudi regime, was murdered and then dismembered by a group of Saudi nationals who flew to Istanbul for the sole purpose of killing him. About a month later in November 2018, the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi’s death, The Hill reported.
Khashoggi, a Saudi national who wrote for the Washington Post, went to the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018 to get paperwork that would allow him to marry Hatice Cengiz, his Turkish fiancee. Turkish authorities said they had audio recordings to prove that the journalist was assaulted and killed in the embassy. Khashoggi often wrote critically about the Saudi regime and about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
President Trump told reporters on October 18, 2018 that “it certainly looks like” Khashoggi has been killed; the president called the news “very sad.” Trump said it was still too early to decide what action the US would take. In September 2019, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took responsibility for Khashoggi’s death, saying it happened on his watch, but he said he had no prior knowledge of what was going to happen. On December 23, 2019, five officials were given the death penalty from a Saudi Arabia court and three were given 24-year prison sentences. The trial was not open to the public.
In December 2018, Khashoggi was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
Here’s what you need to know about Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancee.
1. She Says That Khashoggi’s ‘Beautiful Laugh’ Will Remain With Her Forever
On October 20, 2018, Cengiz posted a video of Khashoggi. He’s in a suit, looking serious and speaking earnestly in Arabic. Then a cat jumps onto his lap and he smiles warmly. Cengiz wrote, “They took your bodily presence from my world. But your beautiful laugh will remain in my soul forever. My darling #jkhashoggi.”
Today, that tweet and the video of Khashoggi are still pinned to the top of her Twitter profile.
Cengiz held out hope for a long time that Khashoggi was still alive. She was posting verses from the Koran on Twitter, including this one:
“The Almighty said: And who kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is Hell Immortal in it and God’s wrath on him and a curse and promise him great torment.” Surat Al-Nisa/39 The Great truth of God
Cengiz also wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times on October 13, 2018, in which she said that Khashoggi may already be a martyr. She wrote: “The speculations about his fate have not been confirmed by the authorities, but the silence of Saudi Arabia fills me with dread. That haunting question doesn’t leave me for a single moment: Is it true? Have they assassinated Jamal? If the allegations are true, and Jamal has been murdered by the errand boys of Mohammed bin Salman, he is already a martyr. His loss is not just mine but that of every person with a conscience and moral compass.”
Cengiz has written on social media about the suffering she felt as she waited for news about him. She described feeling torn between hope and despair, writing, “As I live between life and death, between heaven and earth between heaven and Hell… Wake up from my sleep with hope and lose all my hopes after sunset… I die every day a thousand times..!”
2. Hatice and Jamal Were on the Verge of Starting a New Life Together
In an essay for the Washington Post, Hatice Cengiz describes the new life that she and Jamal were planning on. Like any other couple about to get married, she and Jamal were thinking about both the big picture and the small details. On the day that Jamal disappeared, the couple had been planning to run errands in the afternoon — they were going to shop for new appliances for their home. Then they had planned on having dinner with Cengiz’s family.
But in the big picture, Cengiz says, she and Jamal were excited about the new life they were embarking on together. They were planning to divide their time between Istanbul, where Cengiz’s family lives, and Washington DC. Cengiz says that Jamal, a columnist for the Washington Post, was feeling energized. She writes that “the clouds were clearing” for Jamal, who had been depressed for many years since leaving Saudi Arabia.
3. Cengiz and Khashoggi First Met at a Conference in Istanbul
Cengiz, 36, is a PhD candidate at a university in Istanbul. She first met Khashoggi back in May, during a conference in Istanbul. The two fell in love and became engaged to get married. Cengiz told the Washington Post that even before meeting Khashoggi, she knew who he was and was familiar with his work. She said that she attended his speech at the conference and afterward she asked him a question. The two started talking and quickly developed a relationship. Their relationship developed quickly and it wasn’t long before they became engaged. A friend of Khashoggi’s said that Cengiz’s father was initially skeptical about their relationship because of their large age gap; Khashoggi was 59 years old. But Cengiz’s father eventually consented.
In order to get married, Khashoggi needed to prove that he had already legally divorced his first wife. That’s why he went to the Saudi embassy on October 2; he needed a copy of his divorce papers.
She said Khashoggi told her he was drawn to her because of her attitude and her ability to speak Arabic, not because of her looks, FT reported. She said within just 20 days of meeting, he met her parents and bought an apartment for them. “He was practical,” she told FT. “He also knew what he wanted. He was lonely and in he was in pain.”
When asked if she regretted meeting him, she said no. “I never regret. It’s fate.”
4. She Has Spoken Openly About Her Fiance’s Disappearance & Her Heartbreak as She Sought Justice
In an interview with Time, Cengiz spoke about her heartbreak. She said, “Apart from being a person I loved, Jamal was a person I profoundly respected, whose life, status, experience and values I admired. I was always happy to know where he was going and to help him out.”
She said that after the news, she “felt detached from life for a long time.”
She told Time: “I will never see or have the chance to meet with him again in the earthly realm. All my dreams have been profoundly shaken. Before this, I had my own struggles in life like everyone else. Now, Jamal’s fight for justice has been added to them.”
She said his murder was a “blow to everyone fighting for democracy in the region.”
5. Cengiz Begged Donald and Melania Trump to Help Find Her Fiance
Cengiz begged the US government to take action in helping to find her fiance. In her Washington Post op-ed, Cengiz wrote, “At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal’s disappearance. I also urge Saudi Arabia, especially King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to show the same level of sensitivity and release CCTV footage from the consulate.”