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A file photo of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A file photo of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Jamal Khashoggi’s India connect in spotlight

Jamal Khashoggi was nephew of arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who had connections to Indian politicians

New Delhi: The murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has captured international attention and led to tension between Saudi Arabia and Turkey given that the former Washington Post journalist was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. What is less known is that he is the nephew of Adnan Khashoggi, a wealthy Saudi arms dealer with reportedly close connections to Indian politicians such as former prime minister Chandra Shekhar through Chandraswami, who was then spiritual guru to a number of politicians.

Also, not widely known is that Jamal Khashoggi is a cousin of Dodi al Fayed, whose mother was Adnan Khashoggi’s sister. Dodi was better known as the rumoured boyfriend of former Princess of Wales, Diana. Both Dodi and Diana died in a car crash in Paris in 1997.

However, it is Jamal Khashoggi’s Indian connection through his uncle that seems to be garnering attention. “Jamal Khashoggi—savagely murdered in the Saudi consulate—was the nephew of the notorious billionaire arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who was embroiled in several scandals in India," strategic analyst Brahma Chellaney said in a Twitter post late Tuesday. One of the politicians that Khashoggi knew quite well was former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, Chellaney said. The association between Khashoggi and Chandra Shekhar seems to have “predated" the latter becoming the prime minister in 1990, Chellaney said.

Adnan Khashoggi was a regular visitor to India in the 1980s and early 1990s, according to various reports. The arms dealer was reportedly introduced to politicians such as Chandra Shekhar and others, including Rajiv Gandhi, by Chandraswami. A report in the India Today news magazine dated 28 February 1991 says “Doors of Indian homes, where Khashoggi broke bread with the famous and the controversial, were opened for him by the high flying god man, Chandraswami, who Khashoggi calls his guru and friend."

Khashoggi’s opulent lifestyle seemed to have only added to the aura of fascination around him.

In one instance when Khashoggi arrived in New Delhi in a private jet, the welcoming committee was “impressive," the India Today article notes.

“He (Khashoggi) was garlanded by a beaming Kailash Nath Aggarwal (Mamaji), Chandra Swami’s close aide, C.B. Gautam, Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar’s secretary, and the BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party) J.K. Jain."

Khashoggi’s convoy swept into Bondsi, Chandra Shekhar’s country retreat, where he is reported to have met the then Indian prime minister in person.

On another occasion, a traditional welcome given to Khashoggi at Jain’s residence included the visitors being showered with flower petals—a gesture reserved for special occasions. Jain is reported to have hosted a dinner for Khashoggi and a return of hospitality extended when Jain was in the US. The BJP was reportedly angry with Jain as it blunted their attacks against Gandhi and Chandra Shekhar for meeting Khashoggi.

Chandra Swami also introduced Adnan Khashoggi to Pamella Bordes, who was Miss India in 1982 and later a Miss Universe aspirant. Bordes was also reported to be a “a high- end, Indian-origin London escort." She is said to have become Khashoggi’s lover and wrote of spending five days at Khashoggi’s estate in Marbella, Spain, in the British Daily Mail tabloid. Bordes’ association with Khashoggi dominated news headlines in India for many months.

When Adnan Khashoggi died last year at the age of 82, all major Indian newspapers took note. “This was a natural death," Chellaney said, unlike the deaths of Jamal Khashoggi and Dodi al Fayed.

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