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Sunday, August 7, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Assassins said to be high on drugs fail in attempt on Saudi heir's life

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia's heir-apparent and most powerful prince has survived an assassination attempt.


Two men opened fire on the palace of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz in Jedda on Aug. 6. Officials said one of the men was killed by security forces and the other was arrested at a security checkpoint outside Nayef's home.

"Two men opened fire after midnight on the Qasr Shateh residence of Prince Nayef," the Interior Ministry said. "Security forces retaliated, killing one of them."

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The ministry stated that the attack, reported at 1 a.m., was not ordered by Al Qaida, Middle East Newsline reported. A spokesman said the attackers, identified as members of the Zahrani family, were "under the influence of drugs."

"No citizens or members of the security forces were affected," the ministry said later on Aug. 6.

This marked the first known assassination attempt on Nayef, second in line to the throne and appointed deputy prime minister in 2009. Western diplomats said Nayef has been running the Saudi kingdom since King Abdullah fell ill in 2010.

"The event is still under investigation," the ministry said.

Nayef and his son, deputy minister Prince Mohammed, have overseen Saudi Arabia's counter-insurgency program. In 2009, Mohammed survived an Al Qaida suicide bombing in his home.

Western diplomats have reported a rising threat from Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula against the Saudi kingdom. On Aug. 5, the State Department urged Americans to "carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia."

"There is an ongoing security threat due to the continued presence of terrorist groups, some affiliated with Al Qaida, who may target Western interests, housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, and other facilities where Westerners congregate," the State Department said.

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