The personal bodyguard of Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Abdul Aziz al-Fagham was shot dead by his friend following a "personal dispute" in the western city of Jeddah on Sunday, Riyadh announced early on the 29th of September.
According to the state news channel “the personal bodyguard of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Abdul Aziz Al-Fagham was killed in a shooting after a personal dispute in Jeddah," adding that " the perpetrator resisted security forces and refused to surrender and was later killed.”
A spokesman for the Mecca police told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that security forces killed the shooter and injured seven others, including a Filipino national, in the exchange of fire.
The security spokesman explained that Al-Fagham was visiting a friend, Turki bin Abdul Aziz al-Sabti, in Jeddah at his home when another friend, Mamdouh bin Misha'al Al-Ali joined them. “Tensions rose as Al Fagham and Al-Ali and the latter went out of the house and returned with a gun which he shot” killing oAl Fagham and wounding two people in the house, including a Filipino worker.
Ali al-Ahmad, a verified "Gulf and counter-terrorism expert and investigative journalist" tweep explained in a series of tweets that the death of al-Fagham "days after his dismissal is extremely suspicious”.
“Al-Fagham was dismissed from his position earlier this month by Mohammed Bin Salman. He had many secrets as he served the king as a bodyguard since 2002, and posed a threat to the Crown Prince in particular” said tweep Ali Al-Ahmad
Saudi dissident and the Islamic thinker Mohammed al-Massari publicly warned Al-Fagham in May of an assassination plot, saying: “My advice to you : find refuge somewhere at the end of the earth in Australia or New Zealand before all is lost!”.
According to the same account, Al-Ali was killed after he refused to surrender and resisted the security forces resulting in an exchange of fire which wounded five members of the forces. Al-Fagham, who was also the bodyguard of the late Saudi King Abdullah, was wounded and died in hospital.
The Faithful Kings Man
Al- Fagham graduated from the King Khalid Military College of the National Guard, and served in the Special Battalion, which was later transformed by royal order to the Royal Guard. He rose in the ranks until he became Major General in the Royal guard according to local newspaper Sabaq. According to the same outlet his “dedication and vigilance” helped him to win the title of “world’s best personal bodyguard” from the international academy.
Condolences and Tributes
Turki Al-Sheikh, a senior adviser to the Royal Court paid tribute on Twitter “May you rest in peace hero, we were on the phone today laughing and talking about Riyadh” a number of Saudis paid their respects through the hashtag #Abd_ElAziz_AlFagham which had more than a million tweets at the time of this report.
Saudi commentators praised him for “fulfilling his duty and committing to his pledge, he passed away loyal to his religion, his king and his nation” adding that “the great are always killed treacherously”.
Tweeps expressed the sadness of Saudis over the passing of Al-Fagham despite his mysterious persona and how rarely he was in the media due to his preoccupation with protecting the king due to his “complete obedience and loyalty to the King”. In his few media appearances, he appeared to be like “the dutiful son of the king”.
A Plotted Assassination?
But others questioned the manner and timing of his death, and wondered if it was "an attempt to cover up the capture of 2,000 Saudi soldiers by the Houthis?”
On September 28, The Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi militias announced that they had launched a "major operation" near the border with Najran (in southern Saudi Arabia), saying that “three enemy military brigades had fallen and was supported by the group's drone, missile and air defence units. Saudi Arabia had no comment on the announcement.
Others have claimed that the Houthis are behind the killing of Al-Fagham demanding that King Salman take revenge for his bodyguard.
Bin Salman Accused
Ali al-Ahmad, who identifies himself through his verified Twitter as a "Gulf expert and counterterrorism expert and investigative journalist," explained in a series of tweets that the death of Al-Fagham in this manner "days after his dismissal from his position is extremely suspicious”.
Al-Ahmad tweeted about a video circulating on Social Media of Al-Fagham exercising alone on Jeddah Corniche a few days ago, this was his last known appearance. “It’s very unusual considering the nature of his work which demands that he remain by the king's side at all times, he is the last to go to bed at night in the palace”.
He continued "Al-Fagham was dismissed from his position earlier this month by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. I will give more details when I am able to access the sources" suggesting that “Al Fagham had many secrets as he served the king as a bodyguard since 2002, and posed a threat to the Crown Prince in particular. "
"I can confirm now that it was a political assassination I have more details. But I will present it in a press report tomorrow."
It is worth mentioning that the Saudi dissident and the Islamic thinker Mohammed al-Masari, founder and secretary-general of the Islamic Renewal Party, warned Al-Fagham on May 19 of an assassination plot by the Crown Prince, saying in a tweet through his Twitter account: “ Abd Aziz al-Fagham: Your voice is terrified on the walkie-talkie, your group is one that has sunk into evil, you appear to have wet your military suit, tomorrow MBS will stomp on your head and that of your group and will replace you with Colombians from Blackwater.”
Before advising him to escape, "My advice to you: Do not be a donkey, like Otaibi in the Consulate of Istanbul ... find refuge somewhere at the end of the earth in Australia or New Zealand before all is lost!”.