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When Big Common Abdulaziz al-Fagham, a extremely decorated bodyguard to Saudi ruler King Salman, was shot dead at a friend’s residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on September 28, quite a few Saudi Twitter customers took to the social media platform to express their shock.

The 48-year-old had turn out to be a public figure, as he was on a regular basis noticed by the side of the 83-year-old King Salman due to the fact he assumed energy in 2015, and also by the side of King Abdullah prior to him.

According to an official police statement, al-Fagham was killed as a outcome of “a private dispute” with a pal.

Quite a few Saudi citizens and officials paid their respects at the al-Fagham household household as per Arab and Muslim customs. Amongst them had been Mohamad bin Nayef, the former crown prince who in 2016 was removed from the line of succession by King Salman, who replaced him with his personal son Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef

Former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef [Reuters]

Bin Nayef’s look, noticed in videos of the gathering published by twitter accounts with usernames which includes the al-Fagham household name, prompted a substantial quantity of tweets with the hashtag #محمد_بن_نايف, or Mohammad bin Nayef, in early October.

According to numerous Arabic media outlets, the hashtag started trending on Twitter in Saudi Arabia.

Some accounts showed footage of Bin Nayef inside the residence speaking to members of the al-Fagham household. A single video showed a household member telling bin Nayef that the household has not noticed al-Fagham in years, not even for the duration of religious holidays, but had been happy that he was in service to the king.

Who killed al-Fagham?

Al-Fagham’s death led to rumours of palace intrigue. Some Saudi analysts have questioned regardless of whether the bodyguard was in communication with senior Saudi princes concerning MBS’s achievable plans for succeeding hid father.

“Due to the fact of al-Fagham’s relationships with quite a few princes of the royal household due to the fact the days of King Abdullah, for whom he was his private bodyguard as effectively, it is achievable that he was suspected of leaking some info about MBS’s plans,” mentioned Hamzah al-Kinani, a Washington-primarily based Saudi academic and dissident who has worked previously for a senior Saudi royal.

Al-Kinani mentioned his beliefs are primarily based on his expertise of the workings of the Saudi royal household.

In a video posted on-line soon after the killing and apparently filmed by an onlooker in a parked car or truck as the bodyguard exercised in the upscale Al Shatee neighbourhood in Jeddah, al-Fagham was noticed walking down the street wearing operating footwear, a sweaty T-shirt and dark coloured shorts.

“Walking in public like that is rather uncommon for a royal guard who hardly ever left the king’s side and whose household mentioned publically they have not noticed in years,” mentioned Ali al-Ahmad, extended-time Saudi affairs analyst and a dissident primarily based in Washington, DC.

Other Saudi watchers mentioned that working out in public probably was an indication that al-Fagham was communicating with other individuals in the royal household who had been unhappy with MBS’s policies, which includes the war in Yemen and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which have tarnished the kingdom’s image in the Arab and Muslim planet in certain.

Robert Baer, a former CIA agent who worked in the Middle East, mentioned the killing of al-Fagham is “extremely strange” and “does not make any sense”.

“To place this incident in viewpoint it goes along with the Khashoggi’s killing, the attack on the Abqaiq oil storage facilities at Aramco Business and the war in Yemen. All of this tends to make me worried about the future and stability of Saudi Arabia,” he mentioned.

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