Saudi Gazette – THE speeches of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, at the United Nation General Assembly session on Monday and Wednesday have reemphasized once again the status Saudi Arabia holds on the global arena as a great champion of peace and a ‘Kingdom of Humanity’ apart from its leading role in the global fight against terrorism and extremism.
Addressing the 71st annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York, the Crown Prince said: “Saudi Arabia is keen on handling the issue of humanitarian crises out of its commitment in line with the fundamental teachings of Islam which calls for peace and is keen to assist the needy people.” Leading a high-profile Saudi delegation to the General Assembly session, Crown Prince Muhammad underscored that ever since the foundation of the Kingdom by the late King Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia has been carrying out this great humanitarian role, and now it ranks third in the world in terms of the provision of humanitarian, relief and development aid, with pumping about $139 billion over the past four decades. He also highlighted the keenness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in unifying the Kingdom’s efforts in the humanitarian and relief fields to support needy countries, especially those afflicted by conflicts including Syria and Yemen.
The Crown Prince also drew attention to the pillars of the Kingdom’s foreign policy based on joint work with other states and international bodies to achieve global peace, security and everything that is good for humanity by holding fast to the principles of moderation, justice and reciprocal respect in its interaction with the global community. In Wednesday’s speech, the Crown Prince emphasized that combating terrorism should be a joint international responsibility and that global efforts should be exerted to confront it at all levels. While recalling that Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries that suffered from terrorism, he also called on the international community to cooperate with the 40-member Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism.
These UN speeches are the latest example of how the Crown Prince is striving hard to consolidate the Kingdom’s leading role in promoting global peace and lending a big helping hand to needy states so as to enable them to come out of their crises. It is also a better proof of the vital role being played by him in stamping out terror from the soil of Saudi Arabia as well as in eliminating this scourge from the face of the earth.
Prince Muhammad’s paramount role in crushing the terror network on the domestic front as well as in leading the Kingdom’s counterterrorism strategies globally has earned him many titles such as the “Guardian of the Kingdom,” by Time magazine and the “Leader of the biggest war against terrorism” by the Washington Post. America’s MSNBC network termed him as “the General of War on Terror,” while the US and European officials have described him as the commander of one of the most effective operations to combat terrorism in the world. The Crown Prince has a comprehensive vision of the security, cultural, economic and humanitarian scene, enabling him to offer comprehensive solutions to all security issues and to coordinate with other countries in facing various crimes and potential threats. He is also playing a crucial role in effectively implementing the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is not only a road map for prosperity but also a powerful engine of growth, bringing out qualitative leap in almost all spheres of Saudi life.
In recognition of his great leadership qualities, Time magazine picked the Crown Prince in April this year as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Exactly five years before this, Michael Hayden, former director of the US National Security Agency, described him as the world’s fifth most powerful defender, while the forecast of the famous British magazine The Economist was that Prince Muhammad was one of the candidates for the throne when the line of succession passes to the grandsons of King Abdul Aziz.
Prince Muhammad, who received advanced law enforcement and counter-terrorism training in the United States and the United Kingdom, was appointed as assistant minister of interior for security affairs in 1999 by King Fahd. He also served as the director of Civil Defense while serving as assistant minister. On July 22, 2004, he was appointed to the rank of minister where he oversaw the implementation of the Kingdom’s successful counter-terrorism campaign. Prince Muhammad was instrumental in setting up the Muhammad Bin Naif Counseling and Care Center in 2006. He was named deputy interior minister in 2012.
On Nov. 5 2012, King Abdullah appointed him as minister of interior, replacing Prince Ahmed. On Jan. 23, 2015, King Salman appointed Prince Muhammad as Deputy Crown Prince. On April 29, 2015, he was named Crown Prince, replacing Prince Muqrin, and thus becoming the first in line to the throne of Saudi Arabia from the third generation. He also holds the key post of the chairman of the Council for Political and Security Affairs, which came into being in January 2015.
Prince Muhammad has had a high-profile role in combating domestic terrorism. He stood with his father, late Crown Prince and Interior Minister Prince Naif to eliminate terrorist cells — and their sources — that sought to target Saudi Arabia with a series of attacks beginning in 2003. During this period, the Interior Ministry relentlessly pursued Al-Qaeda cells and extremist ideologues across the Kingdom. The success of Crown Prince Naif and Prince Muhammad in this regard ensured that Al-Qaeda elements fled Saudi Arabia for other countries following a strong crackdown and thanks to the vigilance of the Saudi authorities.
Prince Muhammad, the architect of the Kingdom’s counter-terrorism program, has successfully implemented the Kingdom’s policy against terrorism, which includes not only security measures but also extensive counseling services. The Muhammad Bin Naif Counseling and Care Centre is a rehabilitation center, which counters extremist ideology through exposure to traditional mainstream Islamic teachings. Around 3,000 people have graduated from the center since its establishment in 2008. He adopted the counseling program to rehabilitate and integrate people with extremist thoughts back into the community.
The program, which is known as the “Soft Saudi Strategy” was a wise initiative by Prince Muhammad that embodies the Saudi experience in fighting terrorism. His operations are based on the principle of tolerance and containing criminals and those who have gone astray, rather than abusing them. He sought to ensure that all those arrested and detained in this regard were granted their full rights and were treated equitably, whether this was trial or rehabilitation.
These measures have made Prince Muhammad himself a target for terrorists, and he has survived four assassination attempts. He was slightly injured in the third attempt, and unhurt in the others. The third attempt was in Ramadan, on Aug. 27, 2009, when Abdullah Assiri, a militant who was supposed to be surrendering himself to the Prince, blew himself up. Assiri, a suicide bomber linked to Al-Qaeda, used a ‘Body Cavity Bomb’ hidden inside his rectum.
The Crown Prince has been widely credited for successfully taking on the most dangerous assignment ever to face an interior minister anywhere in the world, and he has achieved this with introducing several innovations with the support of high tech devices. The Kingdom’s unique experiences have been used as a model by other countries in their efforts to fight terrorism. In appreciation of this, the Crown Prince was honored with several awards and medals, the latest that include the French Legion of Honor. French President Francois Hollande decorated him with the award on March 4, 2016.