A PROMINENT Saudi journalist who conducted several interviews with Osama bin Laden and once tried to persuade him to reconcile with the Saudi royal family has resigned as editor of the nation’s leading newspaper.
However, several Arab news websites said that Jamal Khashoggi was in fact fired because of articles in Al-Watan criticising Saudi Arabia’s conservative application of Islam and the religious police who enforce adherence to it.
The newspaper said that Khashoggi resigned to pursue other personal plans.
Khashoggi could not be reached for comment.
He interviewed and travelled with Bin Laden at times between 1987 and 1995, including in Afghanistan where he wrote about the battle against the Soviets.
In the early 1990s, he also tried to persuade Bin Laden to reconcile with the Saudi royal family and return home from his base in Sudan, but the al-Qaeda leader refused.
Bin Laden first fell out with the Saudi leadership over the presence of US troops on Saudi soil during the 1991 Gulf War and was stripped of his citizenship in 1994 after governments in Algeria, Egypt and Yemen accused him of financing subversion there.
Some news websites said recent articles in Al-Watan angered authorities.
One article, on Thursday, criticised the Salafi Islamic thought that dominates ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, which segregates the sexes and where judicial and religious authorities interpret religious texts literally.
Khashoggi also once served as an adviser to the former Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal.