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RIYADH - Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, whose death was announced on state television on Saturday, was a long-serving interior minister who led an iron-fisted crackdown on Al-Qaeda.
Prince Nayef, 79, was seen as more conservative than his half brother King Abdullah, and a pragmatist who liked to describe himself as a soldier under the command of the Saudi monarch.
Nayef, who was recently abroad for medical treatment, “died outside the kingdom,” said Al-Ekhbariyah Television, quoting a statement from the royal court.
He was shown on television in Geneva three days ago greeting supporters.
According to experts on the Saudi monarchy, Nayef was treated abroad in April for cancer.
He was heir to the Saudi throne for less than a year, having been named crown prince late last October after the death of his brother Sultan.
The crown prince was known for his solid relations with the kingdom’s religious elite and was believed to have opposed reforms that could liberalise the Gulf’s ultra-conservative Islamic society.
He was known for his suspicion and mistrust of Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran, and had pushed for hardline policies towards the Shiite nation. - AFP