Saudi Arabia names new intelligence chief

AP News
Posted: Jul 01, 2014 6:16 AM
Saudi Arabia names new intelligence chief

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has tapped the former deputy defense minister to lead the kingdom's intelligence services and revitalized the political career of a former spy chief and longtime ambassador to the United States by naming him to a new senior advisory post.

The moves come as the world's largest oil exporter watches the rapid military gains made by al-Qaida-inspired militants in neighboring Iraq with growing concern.

The king named Prince Khalid bin Bandar to the post of chief of general intelligence in a decree Monday, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. Khalid was relieved of his post as deputy defense minister on Saturday, barely six weeks after he was appointed.

Khalid was previously the governor of the Riyadh region, an important post he assumed in February 2013 that involves overseeing the capital and provides opportunities for direct contact with top officials and visiting dignitaries. He is the son of Prince Bandar, one of the eldest surviving sons of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the kingdom.

The monarch also named the former intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, as adviser and special envoy to the king.

Bandar was ambassador to the U.S. for 22 years before becoming director general of Saudi Intelligence Agency in July 2012. His brief in the latter role included oversight of Saudi policy in the Levant, including toward Syrian rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.

He was relieved of his post at the helm of the intelligence agency in April.

King Abdullah last week ordered authorities to take all necessary measures to secure the kingdom from terrorist groups or others who "might disturb the security of the homeland," according to a report by the state news agency that noted particular concern about developments in Iraq.

Saudi Arabia, which has frosty relations with Iraq's Shiite-led government, shares long desert borders with both Iraq and Jordan. Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant last week captured and temporarily held an Iraqi post on the Jordan border, a crossing that is roughly 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Saudi territory.

The insurgent group has seized territory in both Iraq and Syria, and this week announced it was creating its own government, or caliphate, ruled by Islamic law.