Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz appointed by royal decree on Wednesday, has waged war against Al Qaida and survived a suicide bombing claimed by the terrorists.
King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud said Prince Mohammad, 55, will also be deputy prime minister and remain interior minister and head of the political and security council, a coordinating body.
The removal of Prince Muqrin Bin Abdul Aziz Bin Saud as crown prince leaves Prince Mohammad as the first of the second generation, or grandsons of the kingdom’s founder, Abdul Aziz Bin Saud, in line to lead the country.
Born on August 30, 1959, he became interior minister in 2012, taking over from his late father Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz who headed the strategic ministry for 37 years.
He was the youngest Saudi royal to be named to such a high-ranking post, in a country where key figures are often advanced in age.
Prince Mohammad oversaw a crackdown on Al Qaida following a wave of deadly attacks in the Gulf state between 2003 and 2006.
He studied politics in the United States and had several military training courses, including under the aegis of the CIA, according to experts on the Saudi royal family.
In 1999, the bespectacled Mohammad was given his first official post, serving as aide to his father.
His formative years at the interior ministry allowed him to build a “solid network both inside Saudi Arabia and regionally to fight Al Qaida”, said one Saudi expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Western governments noted his “successes” in confronting the global terrorist network and his men were the first to detect and prevent Al Qaida attacks, said one expert.
The prince’s reputation put him in the firing line and nearly killed him.
He survived an attack by the Yemen-based Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in August 2009 when a suicide bomber managed to infiltrate his security.
He suffered only superficial injuries when the bomber killed himself.