Former Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Nayef, whom the kingdom’s second heir and successor has put in charge of counterterrorism efforts, once said he could kill King Abdullah within three years, according to the former intelligence official.
The threat to King Abdullah, who died in January, was never carried out, Bin Nayef, then counterterrorism chief, told Ali Shalaby, a U.S. businessman, in 2014 at a Washington dinner.
Bin Nayef, 63, is now the only man in line to succeed King Salman as ruler of the world’s most populous Arab nation, according to Saudi sources, Saudi sources, a Saudi diplomatic source and a Western diplomatic source, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Saudis’ modern-day crown prince, who was reassigned from his post as interior minister in early 2015 to a post at the royal court overseeing preparations for the king’s abdication, is known in Washington for his calm demeanor and ability to work across the Saudi political spectrum.
Bin Nayef’s role as the kingdom’s chief counterterrorist officer was made possible after Crown Prince Salman removed his father from that post in early 2015. Saudi officials have not commented on the reasons for the prince’s reassignment.