Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz
Nayef, a relatively sprightly 77, has served as Saudi Arabia's interior minister since 1975, overseeing the kingdom's fights against terrorism as well as more peaceful forms of dissent. But with King Abdullah, 87, aging and infirm, and his brother Crown Prince Sultan, 86, said to be suffering from Alzheimer's disease, many kingdom watchers expect the ultraconservative Nayef to be the next head of the world's wealthiest and most heavily armed family enterprise. Among the hard-line prince's greatest hits: accusing "Zionists" of perpetrating the 9/11 attacks, rejecting the idea of elections, and overseeing payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Friday, March 18's speech by King Abdullah was vintage Nayef: no hint of political reforms, a ban on criticizing clerics, and truckloads of cash for the country's Wahhabi religious establishment.
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