Unverified rumors are flying that a Saudi prince has been killed in a gunfight after resisting his arrest.
The hashtag “death of Prince Abdulaziz Bin Fahd” has been circulating in Saudi Arabia amid reports in some sections of the media that the 44-year-old had died.
Speculation began after former FBI special agent Ali Soufan claimed in a tweet that “Abdulaziz is confirmed dead.”
Abdul Aziz is confirmed dead. He was 44 years old. Earlier, Mansour son of the former crown prince Muqrin was also declared dead. https://t.co/IsUyU896o4— Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) November 5, 2017
Soufan suggested that Abdulaziz had been arrested on Saturday prior to reports of his death.
Also, rumors re the death of Prince Abdul Aziz, the son of the late king Fahd. He was arrested yesterday. https://t.co/9x3e5dRPhs— Ali H. Soufan (@Ali_H_Soufan) November 5, 2017
However, the news is not being reported in official Saudi media nor has it been confirmed or denied by Riyadh.
The story comes following a dramatic few days in Saudi Arabia, with 11 princes and numerous ministers arrested over corruption on Saturday.
Meanwhile, on Sunday another prince, Mansour bin Muqrin, died in a helicopter crash along with other officials.
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Pakistani news site The Express Tribune, which says it is partnered with the International New York Times, reported that Abdulaziz died in “even murkier” circumstances than Mansour.
It suggested that the youngest son of late King Fahd had been killed in police custody or resisting arrest as part of the corruption crackdown.
“Alithad News” reported in Arabic on Monday that the Saudi royal court had announced his death, but not given its cause. The site cited the official Saudi Press Agency, however SPA has not given any statement about the claim.
Better-known Al-Masdar news, which backs the Syrian government, also reported the story but later deleted it.
A number of articles were published in Arabic under the headline “the truth about the death of Abdulaziz,” denying the claims.
The prince, who does not have official responsibilities, is a close friend of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, according to the New York Times. They have close business connections through the company Saudi Oger, founded by Saad’s father.
Hariri resigned his post while in Riyadh on Saturday, leading to speculation from some in Lebanon that he had been forced to do so by Saudi Arabia.
Bin Fahd, who has a personal wealth thought to be in the billions, “appears to focus mostly on bouncing around the globe with his large entourage” according to Simon Henderson, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
He has not tweeted to his official Twitter account since early September.
The unconfirmed conjecture about Abdulaziz’s supposed death is not alone among conspiracy theories emerging from the events of the last few days. Many online suggested that the timing of the helicopter crash that killed Prince Mansour bin Muqrin was suspicious.
@Eqlimolsharq tweeted claiming that the aircraft had been “shot down by a Saudi plane to prevent his escape from arrest.”
The high-profile arrests over the weekend were framed by some as the "Saudi purge," with much of the Western media describing them as an apparent attempt by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to remove any potential opposition.
@MBNsaudi even went so far as to allege that “it was blown up by an improvised explosive device thrown in the air” and the “command was made personally by MBS [Mohammed bin Salman],” but offered no evidence.
The cause of the crash has not been officially announced.
Elsewhere, an already unconvincing theory that ex-Lebanon PM Saad Hariri was under house arrest in Saudi Arabia was proved untrue on Tuesday when he flew to Abu Dhabi to hold talks with the crown prince.
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