With the al-Qaeda spin-off Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) now virtually on its northern border, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has appointed a new spy master and a new special envoy for the kingdom. The appointments also strengthen the king’s hand in the succession process.
On July 1, Abdullah appointed Prince Khaled bin Bandar bin Abdul Aziz to be chief of Saudi General Intelligence, the kingdom’s equivalent of the CIA, where he will also hold the rank of a cabinet minister. Prince Khaled is the third son of one of the oldest surviving sons of the modern kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, and thus a prominent figure in the next generation of Saudi leaders. Born in 1951, Khaled is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the elite British military academy that has trained dozens of Arab princes over the years. He served for several decades as a tank commander in the Saudi army rising to be commander of the Saudi Land Forces command. By placing the son of Bandar bin Adul Aziz in the top Saudi spy position, Abdullah strengthens his ties to a senior part of the royal family that will have a vote in future succession scenarios.