Bandar bin Sultan
|Prince Bandar bin Sultan|
|In office||19 July 2012 – present|
|Predecessor||Muqrin bin Abdulaziz|
|In office||16 October 2005 – present|
|In office||24 October 1983–8 September 2005|
|Successor||Prince Turki Al Faisal|
|Spouse||Haifa bint Faisal|
|Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud|
|House||House of Saud|
|Father||Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz|
2 March 1949 |
Bandar bin Sultan (Arabic: الأمير بندر بن سلطان بن عبدالعزيز آل سعود) (born 2 March 1949) is a member of the House of Saud and was Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. In 2005, he was named as Secretary General of the National Security Council. He was appointed Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency by King Abdullah on 19 July 2012.
Early life 
Bandar was born officially on 2 March 1949 in Taif. His actual date of birth is reportedly later according to himself and Western think tanks. He had reportedly faked his birthday to enter the Royal Saudi Air Force,
His mother: Khiziran, was a sixteen-year old commoner from Asir Province and his father, Sultan bin Abdulaziz, was in his early twenties at the time of Bandar's birth. His mother was a concubine. She later learnt to read and write. Bandar lived with his mother and his aunt in his early years, and he had little contact with his father when he was very young. His first close contact with his father occurred when he was eight years old. Bandar's isolation ended when he was eleven years old, a few years later when King Abdulaziz died. It was decided that he and his mother should live with his paternal grandmother Hassa al Sudairi in the palace.
Bandar graduated from the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell in 1968. He received additional training at Maxwell Air Force Base and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He is a trained pilot and has flown numerous fighter aircraft. Bandar's military career ended in 1977 after he crash-landed his jet and suffered a severe back injury. Afterward, he received a master's degree in International Public Policy at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Initial political career 
His diplomatic career began in 1978. As the King's personal envoy, he successfully lobbied the United States Congress to approve the sale of F-15s to Saudi Arabia. At the Oval Office, President Carter told him to win the support of California governor Ronald Reagan. He did and in exchange helped Carter win the support of South Dakota Democratic Senator James Abourezk for the Panama Canal treaty. Fahd made Bandar an emissary to Carter and granted him permission to act independently of the Saudi-U.S. ambassador.
In 1982, King Fahd made him the military attache at the Saudi Embassy. a move which could have ended his diplomatic career. However, in 1983, Fahd appointed Bandar as Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
Ambassador to the United States 
On 24 October 1983, Prince Bandar was appointed ambassador to the United States by King Fahd. During his tenure as ambassador, he dealt with five U.S. presidents, ten secretaries of state, eleven national security advisers, sixteen sessions of Congress, and the media. He had extensive influence in the United States. At the pinnacle of his career, he served both "as the King's exclusive messenger and the White House's errand boy". For over three decades, he was the face of the Saudi Arabia lobby.
Reagan era 
During the Reagan presidency, he secured the purchase of AWACs surveillance aircraft despite opposition from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. After the United States rejected an arms order, he arranged the delivery of intermediate-range nuclear-warhead-capable missiles from China. This angered the Central Intelligence Agency and the United States Department of State. He was exposed for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. He had arranged $32 million in Saudi financing for the Nicaraguan Contras. Nancy Reagan used him to relay messages to the Cabinet.
Bush presidencies 
Bandar formed close relationships with several American presidents, notably George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, the latter giving him the affectionate and controversial nickname "Bandar Bush" His particularly close relationship with the Bush family was highlighted in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. He was so close to George H. W. Bush, that he was often described as a member of the family. He advocated Saddam Hussein's overthrow in Iraq. He encouraged military action against Iraq and supported Dick Cheney's agenda for "The New Middle East", which called for pro-democracy programs in Syria and Iran. His children attended school with Cheney's grandchildren.
Clinton era 
Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, had asked him to help pay for the Middle East Studies Center at the University of Arkansas. In the 1990s, he persuaded Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi to turn in two suspects allegedly involved in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. He privately described Gaddafi as "a Jerry Lewis trying to be a Churchill".
On 26 June 2005, Bandar submitted his resignation as ambassador to the United States for "personal reasons". On the other hand, the official end date of his term is 8 September 2005. Bandar bin Sultan returned to Saudi Arabia weeks prior to the death of King Fahd, upon which Bandar's father, Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz, became the nation's Crown Prince. It was rumored that Bandar's return was timed in order to secure a position in the new government. He was succeeded as ambassador by Turki al Faisal.
Secretary-General of National Security Council 
Bandar bin Sultan was appointed Secretary-General of the National Security Council by King Abdullah on 16 October 2005. The council was established in October 2005. His term was extended for four years on 3 September 2009.
Prince Bandar visited Damascus and met president Bashar Assad in mid-November 2005. He also secretly met with U.S. officials in 2006 after resigning as ambassador. In other words, in his new post, he is reported to continue to meet privately with them, for instance, senior White House officials made several visits to Saudi Arabia, some of them not disclosed.
On 25 January 2007, Saudi Arabia sent Prince Bandar to Iran for discussions on the crisis in Lebanon and the Kingdom even held talks with Hizballah leaders, whom he had invited for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.
Director General of Saudi Intelligence Agency 
Bandar bin Sultan was appointed Director General of Saudi Intelligence Agency on 19 July 2012 replacing Muqrin bin Abdulaziz. Although no official reason for the appointment was provided, the appointment occurred after growing tension between Sunnis and Shiites in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. It was also considered as a move of Saudi Arabia to display more aggressive foreign policy given the regional challenges that comes from Iran and Syria. Prince Bandar is also a member of the Military Service Council.
Bandar endured controversy over allegations in the book Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward that President George W. Bush informed him of the decision to invade Iraq ahead of Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Bandar helped negotiate the 1985 Al Yamamah deal, a series of massive arms sales by the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia worth GB£40 billion (US$80 billion), including the sale of more than 100 warplanes. After the deal was signed, British arms manufacturer British Aerospace (now BAE Systems) allegedly funnelled secret payments of at least GB£1 billion (US$2 billion) into two Saudi embassy accounts in Washington, in yearly instalments of up to GB£120 million (US$240 million) over at least 10 years. He allegedly took money for personal use out of the accounts, as the purpose of one of the accounts was to pay the operating expenses of his private Airbus A340. According to investigators, there was "no distinction between the accounts of the embassy, or official government accounts [...], and the accounts of the royal family." The payments were discovered during a Serious Fraud Office investigation, which was stopped in December 2006 by attorney general Lord Goldsmith. In 2009, he hired Louis Freeh as his legal representative for the Al-Yamamah arms scandal.
Disappearance and rumors 
Bandar's last major public appearance before his return to the Kingdom was on 10 December 2008 in a meeting with King Abdullah. After King Abdullah renewed his post for another 4-year term in September 2009, he did not provide the customary public allegiance to the King. He did not show up with his friend Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for the opening of the new Cowboys Stadium. In October 2009, he was not present in King Abdullah's delegation for the watershed Damascus visit. In December 2009, he was not present for the return of his father, Crown Prince Sultan, from Morocco.
According to Iran's PressTV, Bandar was under house arrest for an attempted coup, while opposition sources said he was in Dhaban Prison. Some rumors alleged that his coup was exposed by Russian intelligence services because of his frequent trips to Moscow to encourage cooperation against Iran.
In July 2012, the rumors of his assassination were reported by Voltaire Network and DEBKAfile and later published in Press TV and Tehran Times. This news was denied by Arab News and the journalist David Ignatius.
In what was perceived as a return to prominence, in March 2011, Bandar was sent to Pakistan, India, Malaysia, and China to gather support for Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Bahrain. In April 2011, Bandar was present in meetings when U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visited King Abdullah and in a separate visit by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon.
The other goal of his late March 2011 visit to Islamabad (Pakistan) was to raise the prospect of a return engagement for the Pakistan army. The goal was achieved and Pakistan quickly approved the proposal. His visit to China during the same period resulted in the issuing of lucrative contracts in return for political support. Since China is not a friend of the Arab Spring, it is eager for Saudi oil and investment. Bandar secretly negotiated the first big Saudi-Chinese arms deal. Thus, Bandar is the Kingdoms's premier China expert.
Personal life 
In 1972, Bandar married Haifa bint Faisal, with whom he had eight children: four sons and four daughters. The youngest three (Fahad, Hussa, and Azus) attended Potomac School in McLean, Virginia, while living in the town from 2001 to 2005. His daughter Princess Reema bint Bandar, who was formerly married to Prince Faisal bin Turki, organized the world's largest pink ribbon event in Saudi Arabia to raise awareness for breast cancer. His son Khalid is married to Lucy Cuthbert, niece of Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland.
Habits and health concerns 
Known for his cigar smoking, he usually wears European clothes, and he likes American colloquialisms and American history. In Washington, he earned a reputation for partying and drinking. He may have recently abandoned alcohol after a death scare in the family. In the mid-1990s, he suffered his first depression.
Bandar considers himself an American Hamiltonian conservative. Before the 2000 U.S. presidential election was decided, he invited George H. W. Bush to go pheasant shooting on his English estate in a "Desert Storm reunion". After the September 11 attacks in 2001, in an interview in the New York Times, he stated, “Bin Laden used to come to us when America—underline, America—through the CIA and Saudi Arabia, were helping our brother mujahideen in Afghanistan, to get rid of the communist secularist Soviet Union forces. Osama bin Laden came and said ‘Thank you. Thank you for bringing the Americans to help us.’ At that time, I thought he couldn’t lead eight ducks across the street.”
Bandar argued some researchers “learn to speak a few words of Arabic and call themselves experts about the affairs of my country.” In 2007, during his tenure as National Security Secretary, Bandar proposed that the Kingdom have greater contact with Israel, because he regarded Iran as a more serious threat than Israel.
A few months after 9/11, Bandar went to Aspen, where he has a thirty-two-room mansion. He bought the land in 1989 and built the residence in 1991. On 12 July 2006, it was reported that Prince Bandar was seeking to sell his 56,000-square-foot (5,200 m2) mansion in Aspen, Colorado, for US $135 million. The palatial vacation home, called Hala Ranch, is larger than the White House, is perched on a mountaintop of 95 acres (380,000 m2), and includes 15 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms featuring 24-karat gold fixtures. In December 2006, the mansion was still listed for sale at $135 million. In December 2007, the 14,395-square-foot (1,337.3 m2) guesthouse was sold for a reported $36.5 mm. The purported reason for the sale is that Bandar was too busy to enjoy the mansion. Finally, he sold his Aspen ranch for $49 million to Starwood Mountain Ranch LLC in June 2012. It is reported that billionaire John Paulson bought Hala Ranch, and Paulson confirmed it.
In 1990, Prince Bandar donated an unknown amount to finance construction of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS).
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