Riyadh: Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, appointed second in line to the Saudi throne Friday, has waged war against al-Qaeda and survived a suicide bombing claimed by jihadists.
His appointment was among the first decrees announced by King Salman, the successor to King Abdullah who died after weeks in hospital where he was treated for pneumonia.
Born on August 30, 1959, Nayef became interior minister in 2012, taking over from his late father Nayef bin Abdulaziz who headed the strategic ministry for 37 years.
Nayef was the youngest Saudi royal to be named to such a high-ranking post, in a country where key figures are often advanced in age.
He was in charge of a crackdown on al-Qaeda following a wave of deadly attacks in the Gulf state between 2003 and 2006.
His appointment helps to solidify control by Salman`s Sudayri branch of the royal family, named for their mother Hissa bint Ahmad al-Sudayri.
As second crown prince, Nayef is second in line to the throne and takes over from Prince Moqren, whom Salman named as first crown prince and heir.
The position of second crown prince did not exist until Abdullah appointed Moqren last March, aimed at smoothing succession hurdles.
Nayef studied political sciences in the United States and had several military training courses, including under the aegis of the CIA, according to experts on the royal family.
In 1999, the bespectacled Nayef was given his first official post, serving as aide to the interior minister, his late father.His formative years at the interior ministry allowed him to build a "solid network both inside Saudi Arabia and regionally to fight Al-Qaeda," said a Saudi expert, on condition of anonymity.
Western governments noted his "successes" in confronting the global terror network and that Nayef`s men were the first to detect and prevent Al-Qaeda attacks, said the expert.
His reputation put him in al-Qaeda`s firing line and nearly killed him.
He survived a suicide attack in August 2009 when a bomber managed to infiltrate the prince`s security and detonated an explosive device.
Prince Mohammed suffered only superficial injuries, but apart from the bomber, who was killed, no other serious casualties were reported.
The Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack.
It was the first high-profile Al-Qaeda attack on the government since militants rammed a car bomb into the fortified interior ministry in Riyadh in 2004.
It was also the first strike on a royal since al-Qaeda launched a wave of attacks in the kingdom in 2003, targeting Western establishments and oil facilities at the cost of dozens of lives.
Prince Mohammed also led a programme to rehabilitate Al-Qaeda members who either surrendered or were arrested.
The programme has been both praised and criticised, as many militants who underwent rehabilitation found their way back to extremism, with some joining AQAP in Yemen.
When he himself was attacked, the royal court described the bomber as a wanted terrorist who had approached Prince Mohammed under the pretext he wanted to give himself up.