The arena remained empty after Prince bin Nayef was removed from the mandate of the Covenant, so the new Crown Prince established what is known as the Anti-Corruption Committee, under his direct chairmanship, to give him cover in the process of disciplining princes and subjecting them to his authority. His main objective was to arrest prominent Saudi princes who might pose a threat to his rule. As a result, bin Nayef was placed under arrest.
Immediately after a meeting of the Allegiance Commission, a recorded clip was shown in which Mohammed bin Salman kisses the hand of bin Nayef, telling him: “We are always in need of your direction and guidance.” Bin Nayef answers, with an anger that can be seen on his face: “Good luck to all.” Prince bin Nayef was then allowed to go to his palace in Jeddah, but was prevented from leaving it, so as not to pose a threat to bin Salman’s throne.
The news of the prince’s arrest in his palace was kept secret until the New York Times reported the story. In the story, several senior officials and assistants of the royal family made accusations about the way bin Salman put pressure on bin Nayef to resign. However, the sources were anonymous, so as not to endanger their lives or cause problems for them in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi’s rulers were focusing on polishing the image of the new Crown Prince, and forcing the Saudis to forget any competitors who might threaten his new position. So bin Nayef was stripped of all positions and kept well away from television screens. No one saw him except at the funeral of his mother, Princess Al-Jawhara bint Abdulaziz bin Musaed, in May 2019.
The Saudi media deliberately ignored bin Nayef’s presence at the funeral and only mentioned the name of his brother, Prince Saud bin Nayef.
But the prominent princes and leaders of the great tribes had a different opinion, and they raced to console Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. The kingdom’s authorities realised that the prince retained his popularity despite everything they had done to strike him from history. So they decided that it was necessary to think of another way to remove bin Nayef permanently.
The Saudi Game of Thrones reached a dark new level when Prince Muhammed bin Nayef was charged with corruption. He was once the hero of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the war against terrorism, but is now under investigation for corruption.
The roots of this dispute arose between the supporters of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, headed by the former chief of the royal court, Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, and the entourage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This dispute began directly after King Abdullah passed away in January 2015.
It has also become clear that the Anti-Corruption Commission created by bin Salman has nearly finished a detailed investigation and is now plans to condemn bin Nayef.
During the investigation, the investigators ordered bin Nayef to pay $15 billion they claim he had embezzled while working as assistant to the Saudi Interior Minister and head of the Security Affairs Council, but they did not specify details on how they arrived at the $15 billion figure.
The Washington Post newspaper published an article entitled “The dazzling rise and tragic fall of Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Nayef”, which reported that bin Nayef’s supporters responded to the accusations against him by refuting the charges, saying the contradicted the royal decree issued in 2007 by the king stating that all bin Nayef’s financial activities were approved.
The secret decree issued on December 27, 2007, which bore the signature of King Abdullah, stipulated that the Assistant Minister of Interior, bin Nayef, would manage a secret fund to supports the Kingdom’s efforts to combat terrorism.
In addition, the decree granted bin Nayef permission to establish any project that could use these funds to hide sensitive activities within the private sector. The decree also stipulated that bin Nayef would declare the expenses of the fund at the end of each year to the King himself.
Indeed, bin Nayef, in 2013, submitted a report about the secret anti-terrorism expenditures that year, and on 20t May 2013, the document requested approval for spending $1.3 billion, equivalent to 5 billion Saudi riyals. He wanted to spend them on eight projects – an amount of 1.6 billion Saudi riyals was allocated for transport services, 378 million riyals for secret airports and 1.5 billion riyals for security resources, such as weaponry. The BBC revealed in February 2013 that a project for an unmanned aircraft in the Kingdom had been started with the support of the United States.
The head of the royal court, Khaled Al-Tuwaijri, the most influential man during the reign of King Abdullah, responded to bin Nayef’s expenses report by agreeing to give 5 billion Saudi riyals three days after the date bin Nayef sent it, along with a note handwritten in Arabic that said: “I don’t mind,” signed by the late King Abdullah.
Former CIA officials stated that they were aware that bin Nayef had authority over secret counterterrorism accounts at that time. These were used to finance joint US-Saudi projects to combat terrorism.
John Brennan, a former director of the CIA, said: “The Interior Ministry was provided with a budget so they could build up capabilities, recruit personnel and develop intelligence service contacts to penetrate al-Qaeda… Abdullah’s view was that he had to be invested in the activities that MBN [bin Nayef] was leading. MBN was one of his favorites.”
He added: “During my work with Muhammad bin Nayef, he was not the type of people who might involve in corrupt activity or stealing money.”
If the allegations made by bin Salman’s allies suggesting bin Nayef stole money from intelligence accounts indicate anything, it is that the current Crown Prince is trying to frame one of his rivals. He used the card of corruption against him, as does every tyrant who wants to get rid of his opponents. He knows the effect such accusations on Saudi public opinion.
George Tenet, former director of the CIA, spoke well of bin Nayef when he took over the fight against terrorism in the Ministry of Interior in 2003. This was reported in his memoir, “At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA”, which was published in 2007. He wrote about him: “He is someone in whom we developed a great deal of trust and respect… Many of the successes in rolling up al-Qaeda in the kingdom are a result of his courageous efforts.”
Desperate attempts to undermine the reputation of the bin Nayef
High treason and corruption. Those charges are sufficient to destroy anyone’s reputation, even that of a hero, and these are the ones leveled against Prince Muhammad bin Nayef and Prince Ahmed Abdulaziz Al Saud, resulting in their arrests. The Wall Street Journal stated that royal guards wearing black clothes and masks arrested them from their homes in early 2020.
The Saudi authorities initially denied the arrests, but then the Kingdom acknowledged the detention of bin Nayef when the General Directorate of Prisons announced that the former Crown Prince had suffered a heart attack and had been transferred to intensive care. This was tweeted from the official Twitter account of the General Directorate of Prisons, before it was hastily removed.
It should be noted that the statement issued by the General Directorate of Prisons was the first official recognition of the detention of bin Nayef since the launch of the authorities’ recent campaign of retaliation against bin Salman’s rivals for the throne. These supposed rivals included a large number of prominent princes, especially bin Nayef and Ahmed bin Abdulaziz. The arrest of the two princes paved the way for Muhammad bin Salman to take over the throne.
Attempts to kill the prince through medical neglect
Prince Muhammad bin Nayef is now being subjected to a slow assassination attempt following his arrest. He is being subjected to medical neglect in prison.
Since 2015, Mohammed bin Salman has tried to gain power using many illegal means, including the exile and arrests of many opposition figures, while others were killed, if necessary. After years of conflict, the arena became ready for bin Salman to take the throne. This strengthened his control and shook the foundations of the House of Saud by eliminating critics and competitors, including members of the royal family, thus paving the way for the young teenage prince to assume power in a country so important to Muslims the world over.