Little-known militant group claims killing of Saudi king’s bodyguard

Little-known militant group claims killing of Saudi king’s bodyguard
2 min read
01 October, 2019
A self-style extremist Islamist group, Homat al-Tawhid, have claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of King Salman's bodyguard on Sunday despite previous claims of a personal dispute.
Mourners gather at the funeral of Abdelaziz al-Fagham in Mecca on September 29 2019 [Getty]
A previously unknown militant group has claimed responsibility for the killing of Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz al-Fagham, the bodyguard of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

Homat al-Tawhid, or "Protectors of Monetheism", broadcast on messaging app Telegram on Sunday a statement claiming to have orchestrated the fatal shooting earlier that day.

The statement said one of the group’s fighters carried out the assassination "after various reconaissance operations".

The Saudi government did not respond to a request for comment.

In an incident that shocked the kingdom, al-Fagham was killed after being shot in a "personal dispute", the authorities previously said without giving further details.

Just hours after the initial announcement on state television, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said the dispute saw a friend of al-Fagham shoot and kill him, as well as wound another Saudi and a Filipino worker there.

A gunfight erupted as security forces rushed to the home that saw the shooter killed and five members of the security forces wounded, the news agency reported.

Homat al-Tawhid's statement [Click to enlarge]

Homat al-Tawhid claim to be a militant Islamist group, however little is known about their aims or existence.

Their logo includes the black flag emblazoned with the shehada, similar iconography used by jihadi groups.

Traceable only by their channel on Telegram, a messaging app popular with militant groups, Homat al-Tawhid regularly broadcast instructions and methods for carrying out bombings and similar terrorist operations.

Since the 1980s, an array of extremist Islamist groups have waged violent insurgencies in Saudi Arabia.

The government and the royal family have been the main target of their operations, as the monarchy and its regime are deemed illegitimate by fundamentalist groups for ruling an "Islamic state". 

Despite the official state announcement on Fagham's death, details surrounding the incident remained vague, prompting questions and suspicions to surface. 

Foreign journalists said on Twitter that Fagham was dismissed from his post a few days ago, and that this made his death suspicious, with echoes of last year's killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi a year after the tragic murder in Istanbul.

Gun crimes are rare in Saudi Arabia, where convicted killers and drug smugglers are routinely executed. In 2017, there were 419 reported homicides, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

Saudi Arabia is home to over 30 million people.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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