Naif — the pragmatic Crown Prince |
Saudi Gazette - 17 June, 2012
Crown Prince Naif, who passed away on Saturday, was a long-serving interior minister who led an iron-fisted crackdown against Al-Qaeda and was seen as a pragmatist.
Prince Naif, 79, died outside Saudi Arabia having recently left the country for medical treatment, said a statement carried by state media. Funeral prayers will be held on Sunday after sunset prayers in the holy city of Makkah, it added.
Prince Naif appeared on television in Geneva only three days ago greeting well-wishers.
Condolences started pouring in from within the Kingdom and abroad as soon the news of Prince Naif’s death was announced by the state media.
The Shoura Council expressed deep sorrow on the death of Crown Prince Naif. The Shoura Chairman and members of the Council expressed deep condolences to King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Royal Family and the Saudi people. The Council said Prince Naif’s death is a great loss for the nation, Arabs and Muslims.
Prince Naif was named crown prince after the death of Crown Prince Sultan in October 2011. Interior minister for more than three decades, he enjoyed strong relations across the Arab region. Several projects and security agreements were endorsed while he was the honorary chairman of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers.
Born in the western city of Taif in 1934, Prince Naif was raised by his father, the late King Abdul Aziz, who unified the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
He received his education at the hands of a group of senior scholars in Shariah, literature, classic Arabic poetry, political and diplomatic sciences and administration. Prince Naif benefited from the vision of his father, who was known for his distinctive method in dealing with his sons.
Prince Naif was quickly pushed into public service, being named governor of Riyadh when he was barely 20. He was named deputy interior minister in 1970 and interior minister five years later. He was named second deputy prime minister on March 27, 2009.
Soon after becoming crown prince, Prince Naif vowed at a conference of religious scholars that the Kingdom would “never sway from and never compromise on” its adherence to Islam. The Shariah, he proclaimed, “is the source of the Kingdom’s pride, success and progress.”
Among many other duties, Prince Naif was the Supervisor General of the Saudi Committee for the Al-Quds Intifada, which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, and headed the Supreme Council on Information, which oversees the media. He also chaired the Supreme Committee on Haj.
Prince Naif also held many other key positions and headed a number of policy-making bodies. He was the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Human Resources Development Fund since 2001. He served as honorary president of the Saudi Society for Information and Communication and the Saudi Philanthropic Society for Caring for Saudi Families Abroad (Awassir).
Prince Naif was also General Supervisor of Relief and Humanitarian Committee in the Kingdom; Chairman of the Basic Governance System, Shoura Council System and Regions System; Chairman of the Manpower Council; Supervisor of the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP); and Honorary President of the Arab Interior Ministers’ Council.
However, his top concern was security in the Kingdom.
Prince Naif was credited for the successful crackdown on terrorists allied to Al-Qaeda, halting a wave of bloody attacks on the Kingdom between 2003 and 2006.
In mid-2003, terrorists struck inside the Kingdom, targeting three residential expatriate compounds — the first of a string of assaults that later hit government buildings, the US consulate in Jeddah and the perimeter of the world’s largest oil processing facility in Abqaiq.
The attacks galvanized the government into serious action against the militants. Over the next few years, dozens of attacks were foiled, hundreds of militants were rounded up and killed.
The Interior Ministry allied with religious scholars in a “rehabilitation” program for detained militants, who went through intensive courses in true teachings of Islam to sway them away from violence.
By 2008, Al-Qaeda’s branch was rooted out from the country.
Due to this internal security campaign, Al-Qaeda leaders and many members fled to Yemen, where they formed Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has continued to target Saudi interests.
Charged with managing the country’s borders, its internal crime-fighting apparatus and the internal intelligence force, he took the lid off terror funding operations under the guise of charity work.
As fall-out from the Arab Spring spread east from Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, Saudi citizens overwhelmingly rejected calls for public demonstrations in the Kingdom and Prince Naif thanked Saudis for not heeding calls for protests.