The meteoric rise of Saudi's powerful Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is now suspected of ordering the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Daniel BrownOct 12, 2018, 22:49 IST
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud attends a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 27, 2018.REUTERS/Amir Levy
The Turkish government reportedly told US officials on Thursday that it has audio and video recordings suggesting the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed during his visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul last week.
Khashoggi, who lived in Virginia under self-imposed exile, was an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia and its de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Few people had heard of bin Salman before his father, Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, became king in 2015.
King Salman, 79, subsequently elevated bin Salman, 33, to crown prince last June. And he has since been widely seen as the driving force behind an anti-corruption purge that has locked up several leading Saudi government and business leaders.
Here's the story behind bin Salman's meteoric rise.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, was born on August 31, 1985 to King Salman, and Princess Fahda bint Falah bin Sultan bin Hathleen, one of Salman's four wives.
MBS would later earn a bachelor's degree in law at King Saud University, where he was ranked one of the top 10 students. In 2009, after working in several firms and government positions, he was appointed special adviser to his father.
In January 2015, MBS was appointed Saudi's defense minister and deputy crown prince by his father, who had just been elevated to King Salman.
In April 2016, MBS, who also led the Saudi Council for Economic Affairs and Development, announced an ambitious initiative called Vision 2030, which sought to diversify and privatize the Saudi economy and make it less dependent on oil.
King Salman had initially named Mohammed bin Nayef, bin Salman's cousin, as crown prince. But in June 2017, the monarch replaced bin Nayef with bin Salman, who has since sought to consolidate his power.
In September 2017, in his new role of crown prince, MBS had more than 20 clerics and intellectuals critical of his new policies arrested over their supposed ties to foreign powers, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar.
At the same time, MBS has also initiated several social reforms aimed at modernizing the kingdom, including allowing women to drive and to attend sports matches.
Last week news broke that Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who frequently wrote scathing columns that contradicted Prince Mohammed's image as a moderate reformer, had disappeared after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.
MBS is now suspected of ordering the assassination of Khashoggi, who reportedly may have been killed and dismembered by 15 Saudis who flew to Istanbul and visited the consulate on the day of the journalist's disappearance.