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Turki bin Faisal Al Saud

Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud
Director of the General Intelligence
In office 1979–2001
Predecessor Kamal Adham
Successor Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz
Ambassador to the United States
In office 2005–2007
Predecessor Bandar bin Sultan
Successor Adel Al Jubeir
Born (1945-02-15) 15 February 1945
Spouse Nouf bint Fahd bin Khalid Al Saud
Issue Faisal
Full name
Turki Al Faisal Al Saud
Turki bin Faisal Al Saud
Turki Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
House House of Saud
Father King Faisal
Mother Iffat Al-Thunayan
Religion Islam

Turki bin Faisal Al Saud (Arabic:تركي الفيصل) (born 15 February 1945), known also as Turki Al Faisal, is a member of the House of Saud, the Saudi Arabia royal family. He is one of the founders of the King Faisal Foundation and serves as chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

From 1977 to 2001, Prince Turki was the director general of Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah, Saudi Arabia's intelligence agency, resigning the position on 1 September 2001, some ten days before the September 11 attacks in which 14 Saudi nationals hijacked commercial American airliners. Prince Turki subsequently served as ambassador to the Court of St. James's and the United States.[1][2]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Director of Saudi Arabia General Intelligence Directorate 3
    • Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda 3.1
  • Ambassador to the Court of Saint James in London 4
  • Ambassador to the United States 5
    • Resignation 5.1
  • King Faisal Foundation and King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies 6
  • Views and opinions 7
    • 9/11 attacks 7.1
    • Afghanistan 7.2
    • Iran 7.3
    • Yemen 7.4
    • Israel and Palestinian Territories 7.5
    • Wikileaks 7.6
    • Domestic affairs 7.7
  • Various positions 8
  • Personal life 9
    • Health 9.1
    • Awards 9.2
  • Ancestry 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life and education

Prince Turki was born on 15 February 1945 in Mecca.[3][4] He is the eighth and youngest son of the late King Faisal and Iffat Al-Thunayyan who died on 17 February 2000.[5] He is full-brother of Mohammed bin Faisal, Saud bin Faisal, Luluwah bint Faisal and Haifa bint Faisal.

Turki bin Faisal received his primary and some secondary education at a school in Bill Clinton).[8] Turki also did post-graduate work at Princeton,[9] Cambridge,[9] and the University of London, where he took courses in Islamic law and jurisprudence.[9]


After returning to the Kingdom, Turki was appointed an adviser in the Royal Court in 1973.[10][11]

Director of Saudi Arabia General Intelligence Directorate

Prince Turki began his political career as deputy to his uncle, [12][13][14]

He took part in organizing a military operation to remove the hostage-taking terrorists from Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque) in Mecca during the Grand Mosque Seizure in November–December 1979.[8] Prince Turki's resignation was unexpected since his term had been extended on 24 May 2001 for another four years.[15][16] He was replaced just ten days before 9/11, on 1 September 2001, by Nawaf bin Abdul Aziz his uncle and the king’s brother, who has "no background in intelligence whatsoever." [17] The Wall Street Journal later reports: "The timing of Turki’s removal—August 31—and his Taliban connection raise the question: Did the Saudi regime know that bin Laden was planning his attack against the US?"[18]

After King Fahd's stroke in 1995, Prince Turki had a minor disagreement with Prince Abdullah, who did not want to be briefed by him.[19]

Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda

Saudi intelligence joined Pakistan's intelligence service and the CIA in funding the mujahideen. Turki last met with bin Laden in early 1990, when bin Laden was interested in aiding against the South Yemen communists.[20] His intelligence agency kept careful track of bin Laden from the beginning of his rise.[21]

In 1993, Turki helped mediate between warring factions in Afghanistan. In early 1996, Sudan offered to extradite bin Laden to Saudi Arabia. Clinton called on Turki to bring bin Laden back to Saudi Arabia for a quick execution. Saudi Arabia denied the request and Osama left Sudan for Afghanistan.

A continued connection to bin Laden was falsely claimed by Paris Match magazine. In December 2004, Turki accepted substantial libel damages and an apology from the magazine Paris Match over claims he himself was linked to the 11 September attacks.[7]

In 2002, Prince Turki was named in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit by the families of 11 September victims, alleging that he and other Saudi princes, banks, and charities may have funded the terrorists involved in the attack. His involvement was also strongly implied in the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 911. A reporter for the Baltimore Chronicle claimed he was flown out of the United States shortly after the terrorist attacks, but the claim disappeared from later versions of the article. Prince Turki described Fahrenheit 911 as "grossly unfair" to Saudis.[7]

Prince Turki maintains that he had no contact with bin Laden since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. He claims to have secretly negotiated with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in 1998 in an attempt to have bin Laden extradited to Saudi Arabia, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. In a November 2001 interview, Turki expressed support for the US operation in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. In December 2004, Turki was awarded libel damages from Paris Match for its claims that he was connected to the attacks. In 2005, a US federal judge ruled that Saudi officials including Turki were immune from the lawsuit. Turki has severely criticized al-Qaeda, calling it an "evil cult."[7]

However, the allegations continue to dog Turki, with a court affidavit filed on 3 February 2015, claiming that Zacarias Moussaoui served as a courier between bin Laden and Turki in the late 1990s, long after Turki claims to have broken off his relationship with bin Laden.[22] The Saudi government continues to deny any involvement, and claims there is no evidence to support Moussaoui's allegations, noting that Moussaoui's own lawyers presented evidence of his mental incompetence during his trial.[22]

Ambassador to the Court of Saint James in London

Prince Turki bin Abdulaziz bin Faisal Al Saud was appointed ambassador to [25] and was well respected by British diplomats.[26]

Ambassador to the United States

Prince Turki as Ambassador to the United States

In July 2005, it was announced that Prince Turki would succeed Bandar bin Sultan as Saudi ambassador to the United States. He served as ambassador to the United States from July 2005 until 11 December 2006. Adel al-Jubeir succeeded him as ambassador to the United States.

Prince Turki spent much of his time as ambassador to the United States traveling around the country, visiting 37 states. Turki advocated that the United States engage in direct talks with Iran but other high-ranking Saudi officials, including Turki's predecessor as ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, supported military action to halt Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.[2]

He argued that the Palestinian-Israeli issue, not Iran, was more important for the United States and called on the Bush Administration to revive the peace process. He also argued that diplomacy with Iran was the best way to prevent problems. The Administration disliked his stance and made it difficult for him to arrange visits to the White House. The White House preferred Bandar's more aggressive approach and welcomed Bandar instead.[19]


Prince Bandar's visits to the White House undermined Prince Turki and Prince Turki's goal of engaging in public diplomacy was weakened because of a shortage of money to fund the embassy and his public relations program.[19] On the other hand, there were internal disputes over the Saudi Arabia’s Iraq policy, leading to tensions between Prince Turki and senior members of the royal family.[27]

Turki was angered by the fact that when his own king had asked then Vice President Dick Cheney to meet at short notice in Riyadh, Turki was not invited to attend – an unusual omission for Saudi summit meetings.[2] In addition, Turki's brother Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal did not write the post-summit briefing for Turki; Bandar did.[2]

[12] He abruptly resigned in early December 2006 after 15 months as an ambassador.[2] His predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, worked in the same post for 22 years.[26] Prince Turki returned in January 2007 after the Hajj Pilgrimage to formally announce his departure.[28] Some analysts claim he intentionally attracted attention.[2] He said he wanted to spend time with family.[26] His resignation was initially reported by The Washington Post, not by the royal court or official sources.[19] Turki retired from public office in February 2007.[29]

King Faisal Foundation and King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies

Shortly after the passing of King Faisal, Prince Turki and his siblings established the King Faisal Foundation to invest in education in Saudi Arabia.[6]

As chairman of King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Prince Turki compared energy independence in American politics to baby-kissing. He stated that American politicians must be courageous against demagoguery.[28] He lauded his country's efforts in education and believes that Saudis can succeed only through education.[30] He visited India in December 2011.[31]

Views and opinions

9/11 attacks

Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud

Prince Turki directly challenged Sheikh Abdullah al Turki, secretary general of the World Muslim League and a member of the Council of Senior Ulema after 9/11 attacks, arguing that "those responsible for affairs of state are the rulers," whereas religious scholars "only act in an advisory capacity."[32] On 15 October 2001, Turki, writing in Alsharq Alawsat, stated "God help us from Satan. You [Osama bin Laden] are a rotten seed like the son of Noah, ... and the flood will engulf you like it engulfed him."[33] In interview on Saudi TV on 5 November 2011, Turki argued "The religious edicts issued by [bin Laden] are the main evidence [for his guilt] because they call for attacking American soldiers and civilians. Only those people devoid of feelings will still ask for evidence. ... Those who still call for evidence are closing their eyes to the facts and are searching for justification of [bin Laden's] acts."[33]


Prince Turki criticized equating jihad with acts of terrorism by citing the resistance against Soviets in the 1980s.[34] He disapproved of the Obama Administration's shunning of Hamid Karzai and believed Abdullah Abdullah was not an acceptable candidate to Afghanistan's diverse ethnic groups – namely, the Pashtuns and Uzbeks.[35] He also called for a shift in U.S. strategy from the media theme against the Taliban to a more focused propaganda campaign against Al Qaeda.[35] He voiced his urgency to the immediate resolution of the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan.[35] He wants Afghan people to handle their own problems. He also expects the U.S. will continue to experience resistance as long as it stays in Afghanistan.[20]


On Iran, Prince Turki warned of its growing influence in Lebanon as "foreign hands manipulating strings."[36] Asked what he thought would be the consequences of an Israeli or U.S. attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, Prince Turki responded, "Calamitous … cataclysmic, not just catastrophic."[37] On the Iranian nuclear program, he believes that there should be a zone free of weapons of mass destruction. He believes Iranian actions have provoked worldwide opposition but at the same time suggests that Iran's nuclear program is being singled out.[20] He believes Iran is pursuing an "explosive" path in nuclear enrichment. He stated if Iran was attacked Saudi Arabia would never grant Israeli flyover rights.[38]

He called the Geneva interim agreement a serious concern[39] and condemned the United States for keeping the Government of Saudi Arabia away from the negotiations in Geneva.[40]


Prince Turki stated that Yemen has become a sanctuary for extremists as refugees flee the conflict and into the Kingdom's borders.[41]

Israel and Palestinian Territories

Prince Turki and Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu at the Munich Security Conference, 2010

Prince Turki was the Kingdom's leading critic of American foreign policy. Prince Turki criticized Israel for not accepting the Arab Peace Initiative, which proposed normalizing relations in exchange for Israel's withdrawal to 1967 borders.[42] He accused the Bush administration for undermining a Saudi-brokered power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas and the Obama administration of pro-Israel bias and protecting Israel's nuclear program from international scrutiny.[42] He called on U.S. President Barack Obama to support the two state solution for Palestinians and Israelis.[36]

In a Financial Times editorial in January 2009, he was critical of American foreign policy toward Palestinians and accused the U.S. of complicity in the deaths of Gazans.[43] He opined that "neocon advisers, American conservatives and Zionist extremists promoted policies that harmed the peace process," describing both Democrats and Republicans as strong supporters of Israel.[44]

At the Munich Security Conference in February 2010, he initially refused to sit next to Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon because of Ayalon's "boorish" behavior toward the Turkish ambassador on Israeli television. In response to Ayalon's comment that Saudi Arabia had not "given a penny" to the Palestinian Authority, Prince Turki claimed that it had given more than $500 million over the past five years. Ayalon apologized and shook hands with Prince Turki as a reconciliation measure. The crowd applauded. Turki clarified that this gesture did not signal any change in official policy towards Israel.[45]

In the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2011, he called for a Middle East without WMDs and stated "the elephant in the room is Israel. Israel with a nuclear weapon is dangerous."[46]

After attending the Munich Security Conference in January 2014, Faisal praised Israel's justice minister, Tzipi Livni and said he understood why she was chosen as Israel's negotiator.[47]


Prince Turki claimed the documents "are a hodgepodge of selectivity, inaccuracy, agenda pursuit, and downright disinformation."[38] He claimed if diplomats and leaders were not able to discuss matters that affect them through cables freely, the countries are "in trouble".[48] He added that WikiLeaks poses a serious danger to all governments and called for meting out tough punishment for those responsible for the breach.[49]

Domestic affairs

Around 2003, Prince Turki said that "reforming the Kingdom is not a choice, it is a necessity".[50]

In late March 2011, Prince Turki argued that elections for membership to the Saudi Shoura Council (the national majlis) should be realized and warned of a "failure in the Kingdom's job market".[51]

Various positions

Prince Turki leaves the University of South Florida after delivering a brief lecture on Saudi Arabian history.

Prince Turki bin Faisal is a commissioner in the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.[52][53] He is deputy chairman of Saudi General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).[54] He is also vice president of general authority of civil aviation for international organizations and was elected as first vice president of the regional bureau of Asia-Pacific within airports council international.[54]

He taught at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. He is also a co-chair of the C100 Group, an affiliate of the World Economic Forum. C-100 Group encourages interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural understanding.[55]

He visited many American universities and has lectured on the history of Saudi Arabia to improve relations between the West and Saudi Arabia. He also visited the University of South Florida, Syracuse University, Rice University, Cornell University, and Harvard University. In November 2010, he spoke at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.[56]

Prince Turki acts as one of the top speakers of the Kingdom.[57]

Personal life

Prince Turki is married to Nouf bint Fahd bin Khalid Al Saud, with whom he has seven children: Faisal, Muneera, Noura, Abdulaziz, Saud, Mishail, and Mudhi.[58] His son Prince Abdulaziz won the second round of Porsche Middle East Cup.[59] His daughter Princess Noura is assistant to vice chairman of the board of trustees and general supervisor of Effat College and Dar Al Hanan School.[60] At a University of South Florida event, he mentioned he has grandchildren and they sometimes ask him questions about Islam.[61]

In person, Prince Turki has been described as the antithesis of Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Turki has been described as cool-headed, soft-spoken, and avuncular.[62] He is one of the most educated Saudi princes.[63]


Some who know him say Prince Turki still has problems resulting from the carbon-monoxide poisoning he suffered when staying in a camper van on a desert trip in the mid-1980s.[64]


Prince Turki is the recipient of the Crans Montana Forum medal.[65] Prince Turki also received an honorary doctorate in law from the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland in 2010 and an honorary doctorate in Middle Eastern studies from Shanghai International Studies University (SISU) in China in 2015.[66]



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  2. ^ a b c d e f g de Borchgrave, Arnaud (2 August 2005). "Saudi Arabian princes that match 007 and George Smiley". Mathaba. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Seminar: A Saudi National Security Doctrine for the New Decade" (PDF). University of Oxford. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Winberg Chai (22 September 2005). Saudi Arabia: A Modern Reader. University Press. p. 193.  
  5. ^ "Saudi Arabia mourns passing away of princess". Kuwait News Agency. 12 February 2000. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "Transcript of Prince Turki’s speech at Princeton". Saudi Embassy. 7 December 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
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  8. ^ a b Wright, Lawrence, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Knopf, August 2006
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  14. ^ Joseph J. Trento (21 March 2006). Prelude to Terror: The Rogue CIA And The Legacy Of America's Private Intelligence Network. Basic Books. p. 238.  
  15. ^ "2001 Public Statement". Saudi Embassy. 24 May 2001. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
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  17. ^ [Agence France-Presse, 31 August 2001; Wall Street Journal, 22 October 2001; Seattle Times, 29 October 2001]
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  20. ^ a b c I Believe I Can Beat President Obama;" "Slurpee Summit" Rescheduled; New House Leaders Chosen""". CNN. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  21. ^ "A Conversation with Prince Turki Al Faisal Council on Foreign Relations". CFR. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
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  33. ^ a b Dudney, Robert S. (December 2001). "Verbatim Special: War on Terror" (PDF). Air Force Magazine: 40–48. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
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  36. ^ a b No relations with Israel until return to ... JPost – Middle East"'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
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  39. ^ Gulf States fear losing power after Iran deal DW
  40. ^ Iran negotiations force Middle East to rethink alliances Jazeera America
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  42. ^ a b "Prominent Saudi royal blasts Obama on Israel". The Washington Times. 23 October 2010. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
  43. ^ Turki Al Faisal (23 January 2009). "Saudi Arabia's patience is running out". Financial Times. Retrieved 30 July 2012. 
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  46. ^ "Nuclear Debate in Davos". Fox News. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  47. ^ Saudi Prince praises Livni at Munich Security conference, Jerusalem Post
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  49. ^ "Deal firmly with source of WikiLeaks cables: Turki". Gulf News (Manama). Reuters. 7 December 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  50. ^ Kapiszewski, Andrzej (2006). "Saudi Arabia: Steps Toward Democratization or Reconfiguration of Authoritarianism?". Journal of Asian and African Studies 41 (5–6): 459–482.  
  51. ^ Cordesman, Anthony H. (21 April 2011). "Saudi stability in a time of change" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies. pp. 1–29. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  52. ^ "Prince Turki Al Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud". IISS. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  53. ^ "Prince Turki Al-Faisal: Issue of Mideast Free of Nuclear Weapons Tops Agenda of ICNND Meeting". Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  54. ^ a b "Prince Turki bin Faisal elected Vice President of ACI&'s Asia-Pacific Region". SPA. 18 May 2010. Retrieved 14 April 2013. 
  55. ^ "HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud to speak at the Maxwell School". Maxwell School of Syracuse University. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  56. ^ "Ex-Saudi envoy presses Washington on peace process". Politico. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  57. ^ Harvey, Fiona (19 October 2012). "Saudi Arabia reveals plans to be powered entirely by renewable energy". The Guardian (Rio de Janeiro). Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  58. ^ Sabri, Sharaf. The House of Saud in Commerce: a Study of Royal Entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. New Delhi: I.S. Publications, 2001. Print.
  59. ^ "Abdulaziz wins". Saudi Gazette. 16 November 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  60. ^ Fatany, Samar (2007). Saudi women. Towards A New Era (PDF). Ghalnaa Publications. 
  61. ^ "USF Welcomes His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al Faisal". USF. 28 October 2010. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  62. ^ Curiel, Jonathan (10 December 2006). "Saudi Arabia's influential ambassador to U.S. steps down". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  63. ^ "International Relations". Saudi-US relations. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  64. ^ Henderson, Simon (16 December 2006). "Talking Turki". The Washington Institute. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  65. ^ "List of recipients" (PDF). Crans Montana Forum. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  66. ^ "Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia awarded Honorary Doctorate from SISU". Retrieved 23 April 2015. 

External links

  • Veto a State, Lose an Ally
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Preceded by
Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz
Director of Intelligence of Saudi Arabia
Succeeded by
Muqrin bin Abdulaziz
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