After the barbaric story we have all followed of Jamal Khashoggi and his horrific murder at the hands of admitted Saudi agents, we can see a growing campaign on the part of Middle Eastern governments to intimidate, frighten, and ultimately neutralize prominent critics. This sometimes includes the less barbaric, but likewise criminal attempt to cut people’s reputations into pieces in order to terrify them into silence. The United States must take strong action to protect its citizens and residents from Middle Eastern governments that wish to silence them.
Unfortunately, numerous worldwide governments have failed this test, routinely apprehending the very citizens they are meant to protect before meting out brutal interrogations or extraditing them to criminal states.
During World War II, Nazi Germany dispatched secret police forces to hunt down known or suspected dissidents — a tactic aptly termed Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) to describe the darkness that surrounded the victims’ sudden disappearance. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union earned a brutal reputation for summoning or detaining men and women only for them to then disappear forever. Argentina’s military juntas were especially notorious for their practice of putting detained citizens aboard aircraft and casting them into the sea. It is thought that between 1976 and 1983, up to 30,000 people were killed or disappeared this way, earning them one of history’s most haunting names: Los Desaparecidos — “the disappeared.” In Iran, this seems to be a problem on repeat: following riots in 1999, 2003, 2009, and even this year, hundreds of Iranian protesters — most of them students — were detained, with dozens yet to be so much as located.