A group of U.S. evangelicals, including former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), held a rare meeting Thursday with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman at his palace.
The delegation to Riyadh was led by Bachmann and communications strategist Joel Rosenberg, who are each known for pushing an apocalyptic worldview relating to events in the Middle East, and the heads of other Israel-tied evangelical organizations, reported Al Jazeera.
“We’re under no illusions about the challenges that are in Saudi Arabia and that remain,” Rosenberg said. “But I think it’s respectful to go and listen to leaders who have the opportunity to make life better for Christians and Muslims and potentially for Israel as well and who are against the crazies in Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“I’d ask people to pray,” he added. “Pray for the (Jordanian) king, pray for the crown prince, pray for the people of Saudi Arabia — and I think it’s the right thing to do.”
The unusual visit came a day short of the one-month anniversary of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
An adviser to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday the journalist was “dissolved” after he was murdered and dismembered.
The crown prince, who has denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, reportedly described the journalist as a dangerous Islamist shortly after he vanished in a phone call with White House adviser Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton.
The American right-wing Christian delegation, which included Mike Evans, founder of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, met with Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the U.S. prince Khalid bin Salman and secretary-general of the Muslim World League Mohammed al-Issa.
Saudi Arabia has long insisted that normalizing relations with Israel requires its withdrawal from Arab lands captured in the 1967 Middle East war — which Palestinians seek for a future state.
“We aren’t here for a short-term purpose,” Bachmann told CBN News. “We are not here for a photo op, we could care less about that. We’re here to build long-term relations and to benefit our brothers and sisters that are here in this region.”
Johnnie Moore, the group’s spokesman who also serves as the White House’s unofficial liaison to conservative evangelicals, said they “discussed” Khashoggi’s killing, but declined to elaborate, and he insisted they were not representing Israel or Trump in any way.
“Absolutely false — the White House had no knowledge of our coming and we conveyed no messages from the White House or to the White House,” Moore told the Washington Post.