Saudi Muhammad bin Nayef case


The news that Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul has been released from prison (though she is still not free to travel) is a sign that external pressure on the kingdom could have positive results. The Biden administration also wisely called for an end to the Saudi-led war in Yemen and froze some arms deals. It should continue to press for the release of other human rights activists held on trumped-up charges, in addition to the US citizens detained by the kingdom.

The international community must now take another case and demand the release of former Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who is being held not because of any crime he committed but because he is a problem for the current crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Muhammad bin Nayef saved the lives of dozens if not hundreds of Americans and defeated al-Qaeda in her hometown. Putting pressure on the Saudi leadership over his case may be an extraordinary step, but it must be an urgent task, as his case is special given his significant contributions to American security. Moreover, his life is in great danger.

Record Muhammad bin Nayef

Muhammad bin Nayef, better known as Muhammad bin Nayef, is the son of Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, the longest-serving interior minister in the kingdom. Educated in Oregon before training with the FBI and Scotland Yard. He gradually took over his father’s position. Unlike his father, who was very skeptical – if not hostile – to the Americans, Muhammad bin Nayef is the most pro-American prince in the family and the most competent by far, especially in the fight against terrorism.

I first met him when I was Special Assistant for Near East and South Asia to President Bill Clinton at the National Security Council. I accompanied Vice President Al Gore to the Kingdom on a tour we took across the Middle East in May 1998. We met both Father Nayef and his son Muhammad bin Nayef during our meetings in Riyadh. It was only then that we learned that the Interior Ministry thwarted an al Qaeda plot to attack the United States consulate in Jeddah while the vice president was there at the consulate preparing to meet the then crown prince, Prince Abdullah.

Photo from Bruce Riedel's group dinner in Riyadh including Al Gore.
Vice President Al Gore meets with the Saudi leadership at the Royal Palace in Jeddah. Source: The author’s own collection.

After the eleventh of September and the invasion of Iraq, Osama bin Laden called for an uprising in his native country against the House of Saud, and blamed America for its support. The first major attack in the kingdom took place on May 12, 2003, in a compound in Riyadh that housed foreign military experts working for the Saudi armed forces. More than ten al-Qaeda terrorists attacked the compound with car bombs and light weapons. At least eight Americans, Australians and several other Westerners were killed, along with Saudi security guards. This was the first blow in what had become a campaign of terror against foreign workers in the kingdom and their Saudi hosts.

Then-CIA Director George Tenet traveled immediately to Riyadh to coordinate the fight against al-Qaeda. Tenet considered Muhammad bin Nayef to be the CIA’s closest partner in fighting Al Qaeda and the key to defeating the threat he posed to the House of Saud between 2003 and 2006. Nayef was “the most important interlocutor,” he wrote. “Relatively young, he is someone in whom we have developed a great deal of trust and respect.” During that period was Muhammad bin Nayef Came alone.

It was the longest running violent unrest in Saudi Arabia in more than 50 years.

For three years, the kingdom was a battlefield as Al Qaeda attacked targets that included even the Interior Ministry headquarters in Riyadh. Other housing complexes for foreigners were attacked, and an American was kidnapped and then beheaded. Shooting attacks occurred between Al-Qaeda terrorists and the police in every major Saudi city and in many towns. Further attacks on foreign targets followed, including a major attack on the United States Consulate in Jeddah on December 6, 2004, in which terrorists nearly arrested a young American diplomat. Hundreds were killed and many more wounded during these battles. It was the longest campaign of violent unrest to hit Saudi Arabia in more than 50 years, and the most serious internal challenge to the Al Saud family since the creation of the modern state in 1902. Before it ended, the war was costing the government. More than 30 billion dollars.

Even after the end of the war inside the kingdom, the prince continued to help combat the terrorist threat to the West – helping to thwart more than one plot against the United States when Al Qaeda planted bombs on UPS and FedEx planes flying from Yemen to Chicago on the eve of the 2010 US Congressional elections. Muhammad bin Nayef at the White House and gave President Obama’s advisor on terrorism, John Brennan, tracking numbers for the killer containers. After that, the planes were detained at stopovers in Dubai and the East Midlands in the United Kingdom and the bombs were removed.

In addition to his international reputation as a resourceful spy official, Muhammad bin Nayef is a hero in his country as a result of an accident in which he nearly lost his life in 2009. He agreed to meet Abdullah Asiri, a Yemeni terrorist from al-Qaeda, who said he would surrender if he could surrender directly to a deputy. Saudi Interior Minister. Asiri promised that if he met the minister face-to-face, he would be able to convince his comrades – including his brother Ibrahim Asiri, the main bomb maker at al-Qaeda, who built the bombs on planes. To Detroit and Chicago – to surrender, too. When the meeting took place on August 27, 2009, Asiri detonated a bomb that detonated himself and wounded the Prince. Hours later, Muhammad bin Nayef appeared on Saudi TV to tell the kingdom the story. He did not disclose the extent of his injuries that led to his lifelong need for pain medication. It was one of at least four attempts to assassinate the prince by Al Qaeda.

Perhaps the most successful intelligence officer in the Arab world. Leon Panetta, another former director of the CIA, described him as “the smartest and most accomplished of his generation.” His agents arrested the Saudi mastermind of the 1996 attack on a US military barracks in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, which killed 19 US service members. Iran was behind the plot. Then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo awarded the Muhammad bin Nayef Medal in 2017 for his work in rescuing Americans. him too receiver French Legion of Honor.

fall from grace

In April 2016, King Salman promoted Muhammad bin Nayef to be crown prince, the first generation of his generation to ascend to the highest rank in the royal family. Without any explanation, he was removed from office in June 2017 and replaced by the son of King Mohammed bin Salman – who would become the architect of the disastrous war in Yemen and kill Jamal Khashoggi.

Just a year ago, it was Muhammad bin Nayef Arrested On charges of treason. He has not been seen since then held incommunicado. It appears he has not been allowed access to medical care or medication. His life may be in danger. Human Rights Watch He said His life is threatened.

He has not faced any judicial process that we know of. The charge of treason is absurd. He is in prison because he is a symbol of an effective and effective alternative to the reckless and dangerous crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman wants to eliminate the main candidate for leading Saudi Arabia away from its current precarious course and back to being a responsible partner. The Biden team, and especially his new intelligence leadership, must press for the freedom of Muhammad bin Nayef. We owe him just as much.

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