I began writing the last jihad in January of 2001. the first page puts you inside the cockpit of a jet plane hijacked by radical Islamist terrorists, and it's coming in on a kamikaze attack mission into an American city. Now, this is almost nine months before the events of 911. And in the novel, once that attack happens, the fictional American president declares war against radical Islam as cells but also decides he has to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq because of his historical support for terrorists and his historical use of weapons of mass destruction.
Now, to be clear, I wasn't predicting anything. I was writing a thriller. Like a worst-case scenario, I didn't think it would happen. I just thought, what if it did? What would that look like? And it became a massive bestseller as a result.
I wrote a novel series about what would happen if ISIS in Syria decided to take over Jordan. They decided to try to assassinate King Abdullah and blow up his palace and take over the Hashemite Kingdom. That's the premise of this particular series. It was called the third target, then the first hostage, and then without warning, it was a trilogy. Now, what happened is it sounds like fiction, but it's true. King Abdullah read the second in the series, and one of his advisors read it. He didn't know me just happened to pick it up at Heathrow Airport on the flight to Washington to meet the king. The king was going to meet President Obama.
President Obama cancelled the meeting after the king was already there and decided to reschedule it. And suddenly, King Abdullah had two days on his schedule with nothing to do in a Washington hotel room. And the advisor said you have to read this book. And the king said, why? He said Because you're in it. And he looked at it. He said, What are you talking about? It's a novel. It's fiction. Yeah. But you're a character. And the king read it. And rather than banning me from the kingdom forever, which maybe he should have done, but he invited my wife and me to come and visit him for five days. This was in 2016. and the first meeting we had was at the palace, the palace that, in my novel, terrorists had blown up. So that was the beginning of a friendship.
I wrote another novel called The Jerusalem assassin, in which a Saudi Crown Prince wants to make peace with Israel. And a lot of bad things happen. That idea pulls out of the woodwork, Iran and Hezbollah and all kinds of other terrorists. What happened is that even before I wrote it, while researching it, I got invited to come to Saudi Arabia and bring a delegation of evangelical Christian leaders. I am an Evangelical, met with His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, and this was the summer of 2018 that I got the invitation. I said, Yes. And then, a month before we arrived, Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. And it was a huge Firestorm, and all the business investors and everybody was leaving Saudi Arabia; they didn't want anything to do with MBs.
And I understood that, except that I didn't know if he was guilty or not. And I didn't want to play judge and jury. I'm an evangelical one of my objectives for meeting him. It wasn't my idea to meet him. It was his idea. But one of my reasons for saying yes was two. One, I want to ask him why there are no churches in all of Saudi Arabia. Could you start building churches? Could I encourage you? And second, would you make peace with Israel? Now, to me, the issues of religious freedom and peace and security and Iran and all these other issues were very important.
One other thing while we were preparing to go before Jamal Khashoggi was murdered, and it was a horrific, heinous murder. I mean, there's no, there's no excuse. It was insane. The question is whether MBS ordered it or knew, and I still think the evidence does not prove it. Maybe maybe it's true. But here's proof. It's just conjecture. The reason I want to say that is because Adel Al Jubeir was the foreign minister at that time of Saudi Arabia. And I met with him in New York City and at the UN, and he said, Joel, do you realize that you're the first group of Christian leaders in the 300 years that the Saudi family has controlled (What do we call Saudi Arabia today ) that they've ever invited to come to the palace? I say, No, I didn't realize that. That's pretty amazing, actually, especially for an Israeli Jewish Evangelical, to be invited to bring such a delegation never happened before. There's no other Israeli citizen who's ever been invited to meet publicly with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, even Netanyahu, and there were no pictures. It's all off the record.
I have spent two hours with Mohammed bin Zayed getting to know him and his team quite well. And I think he is an extraordinary leader. It's MBZ who's responsible for the huge economic growth, the mission to Mars, the task to the moon, the Abraham Accords, and bringing the first-ever evangelical delegation to the UAE that I led. And then, a few months later, bringing Pope Francis, the first time Roman Catholic Pope, ever set foot and openly held a mass in the Arabian Peninsula. So MBZ is an extraordinary leader, now a very behind-the-scenes quiet strategist. He's not doing interviews. He's not going on television. His meeting with us was off the record. But in that meeting in October 2018, I said, Look, Christians are praying for peace. And we have not seen an Arab leader step forward and make peace with Israel since King Hussein in 1994. That's almost a whole generation that's gone by who will be the next Arab leader. And he leaned forward, and I can say it now because they put it on the record. He leaned forward and said: Joel, it's going to be me. We were shocked. Because this meeting was off the record. And now we opened up. Why is he ready? Remember, this is two years before the Abraham accords. So he's trusting an Israeli and a group of Evangelicals not to leak the biggest story in the Middle East regarding peace in a quarter of a century. And we held that we did. We did not betray his confidence. And sure enough, he kept his word.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joel C. Rosenberg is an American-Israeli communications strategist, author, and non-profit executive. He has written sixteen novels about terrorism and Bible prophecy, including the Gold Medallion Book Award-winner, The Ezekiel Option. You can follow him on Twitter @JoelCRosenberg