Saudi police said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Sunday that Major General Abdul Aziz al-Fagham, who was frequently seen by the king’s side, died Saturday night in the western city of Jeddah.
According to the statement, trouble broke out when Fagham was visiting a friend who was receiving guests at his home in Jeddah’s al-Shatee district, several kilometers north of the palace where the king usually spends much of the summer.
The gunman was himself shot dead by security forces, but five officers were wounded in the melee, it said.
Saudi state television also announced the bodyguard’s death in a single tweet.
“Maj. Gen. Abdulaziz al-Fagham, bodyguard of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was shot dead following a personal dispute in Jeddah,” the tweet read.
Official narrative raises suspicions
Despite the official state announcement, details surrounding the killing remain scarce, prompting suspicions.
Some foreign journalists suspected the official narrative about Fagham’s death. They also drew a resemblance between his death and the state-sponsored murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi operatives last year.
Saudi dissidents have also challenged the official account on the death of the king’s personal bodyguard.
Ali al-Ahmed, an investigative journalist, said in a posting on Twitter that, “Fagham was dismissed from his post a few days ago, and that this made his death suspicious.”
“Al-Fagham was a repository of secrets, and he has been the personal bodyguard of King Abdullah since 2002,” he wrote in another message, referring to the previous Saudi king. “For this reason, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman saw him as a threat to himself, especially as al-Fagham was the head of the royal palace’s guards that assassinated Khashoggi.”
Hamzah al-Hassan, a prominent Saudi dissident, also accused the House of Saud and its supporter of covering up the real circumstances of Fagham’s death.
“We cannot accept the narrative of the Saudi regime that al-Fagham was killed for personal dispute, because the killer and the victim are both the king’s protectors,” he said on Twitter, adding, “The official Saudi account of events is a sheer lie and the true story story with impartiality needs to be presented.”
Khashoggi, a former advocate of the Saudi royal court who later became a critic of bin Salman, was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.