RIYADH: The Saudi Royal Court on Saturday said Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Crown Prince Naif has died. He was in his late 70s.
In a statement, the Royal Court said, "With deep sorrow and grief, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, announced the death of his brother, Crown Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Premier and Minister of Interior, who passed away on Saturday abroad. A funeral prayer will be performed for his soul at the Holy Mosque in Makkah after Maghreb (sunset) prayer on Sunday."
"The Royal Court condoles the Saudi people on the deceased prince, praying to Allah Almighty to bless his soul and to reward him for his services to his religion and homeland,'' it added.
Naif was named heir to the throne last November after then Crown Prince Sultan, who was the defense minister, died of illness on Oct. 21 in the United States.
Naif, who was interior minister in charge of internal security forces since 1975, has been credited for the successful crackdown against Al-Qaeda’s branch in the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
Most likely to be named as new heir to the throne is Prince Salman, the current defense minister. Before taking on the top defense post last year, Prince Salman served for decades in the powerful post of governor of Riyadh.