Sunday, July 02, 2017

Untested leader

Conversation transcript --

Prince Mohammed bin Naif: But, thanks to Allah, what I know is that nobody has a case of this kind against any member of your group.

Suicide bomber: If you possibly can dispatch a special plane or anything so that I can speak to the youth from your office; for such a thing would certainly have them reassured.

Prince Mohammed bin Naif: As you wish. You are the one who can evaluate the situation. If the situation remains the same until the plane is sent to you, you are then welcome.

Suicide bomber: God bless you

That's part of the phone conversation in late August 2009 between Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Abdullah bin Hassan bin Talea' Asiri, a key member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The latter indicated a willingness to turn himself in, but only in person to Prince Mohammed, who sent a plane to Yemen to get him. He then blew himself up in the surrender, injuring Prince Mohammed, whose bandaged hand can be seen in a televised meeting that same night with King Abdullah (RIP).

That evening's events have lots of significance. It was only realized later that it was the first use of the AQAP underwear bomb (the bomber passed through multiple security checks before meeting the Prince). It also cemented the legitimacy of Prince Mohammed in terms of his personal commitment and risk-taking to get AQAP members to turn themselves in -- confirming his upward track culminating in him being elevated to Crown Prince.

Until he was shifted out a few weeks ago, suspiciously soon after Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. Let's just say that it's a somewhat less experienced crowd in charge in the USA and Saudi Arabia these days, headed into a very hot summer.

Photo: SPA via SUSRIS.

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