Faisal bin Musaid

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Faisal bin Musaid bin Abdulaziz
BornFaisal bin Musaid bin Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud
(1944-04-04)4 April 1944
Died18 June 1975(1975-06-18) (aged 31)
HouseHouse of Saud
FatherMusa'id bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
MotherWatfa bint Muhammad bin Talal
ReligionHanbali Sunni Islam
Cause of deathExecution by beheading
Known forRegicidal avunculicide (assassinating King Faisal)
Criminal penaltyExecution

Faisal bin Musaid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Arabic: الأمير فيصل بن مساعد بن عبد العزيز آل سعود‎, ِ Fayṣal bin Musāʿid bin ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ʾĀl Saʿūd; 4 April 1944 – 18 June 1975) was the assassin, and nephew, of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Early life[edit]

Faisal was born in 1944.[1] His father was Prince Musa'id, the paternal half brother to six Saudi Arabian kings including King Faisal; his mother was Watfa, a daughter of Muhammad bin Talal, the 12th (and last) Rashidi Emir. His parents divorced. He and his brothers and sisters were much closer to their maternal Rashidi relatives than their paternal Al Saud relatives.[2]

In 1966, his older brother Khaled,[3][4] a Wahhabist, was killed during an assault on a new television station in Riyadh.[5] Wahhabi clerics opposed the establishment of a national television service, as they believed it immoral to produce images of humans.[6] The details of his death are disputed. Some reports allege that he actually died resisting arrest outside his own home. No investigation over his death was ever initiated. Faisal had another brother, Bandar, and a sister, Al Jawhara. Abdul Rahman bin Musaid is his half-brother.


Faisal arrived in the United States in 1966 and attended San Francisco State College for two semesters studying English. Allis Bens, director of the American Language Institute at San Francisco State, said, "He was friendly and polite and very well brought up, it seemed to me."[7] While Faisal was at San Francisco State his brother Khaled was killed. After leaving San Francisco State College, Faisal went to the University of California at Berkeley and then to the University of Colorado at Boulder. He was described by his peers as "[a] quiet, likable, notably unstudious young man".[8] University of Colorado Professor Edward Rozek, who had taught him in three comparative government courses, described him as "academically a D and a C student".[5]

In 1969, while in Boulder he was arrested for conspiring to sell LSD. He pleaded guilty and was placed on probation for one year.[9] In May 1970, the district attorney dropped the charges.[8]

In 1971 he received a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Colorado and then returned to the San Francisco Bay area. At the University of California at Berkeley he enrolled in graduate courses in political science, but did not receive a master's degree.[9]

After the United States[edit]

After leaving the United States, he went to Beirut. For unknown reasons, he also went to East Germany. When he came back to Saudi Arabia, Saudi authorities seized his passport because of his troubles abroad. He began teaching at Riyadh University and kept in touch with his girlfriend, Christine Surma, who was 26 at the time of the assassination.[5] Surma viewed the Saudi interest "in achieving peace with Israel" as positive outcomes "not available with the previous ruler King Faisal".[10]

Assassination and trial[edit]

Royal Palace shooting[edit]

On 25 March 1975, he went to the Royal Palace in Riyadh, where King Faisal was holding a meeting, known as a majlis. He joined a Kuwaiti delegation and lined up to meet the king. The king recognized his nephew and bent his head forward, so that the younger Faisal could kiss the king's head in a sign of respect. The prince took out a revolver from his robe and shot the King twice in the head. His third shot missed and he threw the gun away. King Faisal fell to the floor. Bodyguards with swords and submachine guns arrested the prince.[8] The king was quickly rushed to a hospital but doctors were unable to save him. Saudi television crews captured the entire assassination on camera.[11]

Imprisonment and execution[edit]

Initial reports described Faisal bin Musaid as "mentally deranged". He was moved to a Riyadh prison.[8] However, he was later deemed sane to be tried.[12]

A sharia court found Faisal guilty of the king's murder on 18 June, and his public execution occurred hours later.[13] His brother Bandar was imprisoned for one year and later released.[2] Cars with loudspeakers drove around Riyadh publicly announcing the verdict and his imminent execution, and crowds gathered in the square.[13] Faisal was led by a soldier to the execution point and was reported to have walked unsteadily.[13] Wearing white robes and blindfolded, Faisal was beheaded with a single sweep of a gold-handled sword.[13]


Aside from the death of his brother, other motives have been proposed. Beirut newspapers claimed involvement with drugs as a motivation in the assassination.[citation needed] Saudi officials began to state that the prince's actions were deliberate and planned.[citation needed] Rumours suggested that the prince had told his mother about his assassination plans, who in turn told King Faisal who responded that "if it is Allah's will, then it would happen".[citation needed] Arab media implied that the prince had been a tool of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Israeli's Mossad.[8]

Beirut newspapers offered three different explanations for the attack. An-Nahar reported that the attack may have been possible vengeance for the dethroning of King Saud, because Faisal was scheduled to marry Saud's daughter—Princess Sita—in the same week.[14] An-Nahar also reported that King Faisal had ignored his repeated complaints that his $3,500 monthly allowance ($15,200/month in 2014 dollars, $182,400/year) was insufficient and this may have prompted the assassination.[14] Al Bayrak reported that according to reliable Saudi sources, King Faisal prohibited him from leaving the country because of his excessive consumption of alcohol and other drugs and the attack may have been a retaliation against the ban.[14]


  1. ^ George Fetherling (2001). The Book of Assassins: A Biographical Dictionary from Ancient Times to the Present. New York: Wiley. p. 139. Archived from the original on 9 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.  – via Questia (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Al Rasheed, Madawi (1991). Politics in an Arabian Oasis. The Rashidis of Saudi Arabia. New York: I. B. Tauirs & Co. Ltd.
  3. ^ Ali, Tariq (2001). "Kingdom of corruption: Keeping an eye on the ball: the Saudi connection" (PDF). Index on Censorship. 30: 14–18. doi:10.1080/03064220108536972. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  4. ^ Biography of Faisal bin Musaid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Historystack. Retrieved 25 June 2017
  5. ^ a b c Reported Killer of King Faisal Knew Drugs, Radicals, p. 5, AP The Journal, (Meriden, Connecticut), 25 March 1975. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  6. ^ Boyd, Douglas A. (Winter 1970–71). "Saudi Arabian Television". Journal of Broadcasting. 15 (1).
  7. ^ Saudi Arabia's King Faisal Assassinated, p. 1, Lodi News-Sentinel, 26 March 1975. Retrieved 25 March 2015. – via news.google.com
  8. ^ a b c d e "Saudi Arabia: The Death of A Desert Monarch". Time. 7 April 1975.
  9. ^ a b "Prince tied to drugs as student in U.S." Chicago Tribune. 20 March 1975. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  10. ^ Saudi Prince Beheaded. The News and The Courier, 19 June 1975.[dead link]
  11. ^ Ludington, Nick (27 March 1975) Public Execution is Expected The Daily News, p. 5. Retrieved 25 March 2015. – via news.google.com
  12. ^ UPI (31 March 1975) Faisal's Slayer Will Stand Trial Milwaukee Sentinel, p. 2. Retrieved 25 March 2015. – via news.google.com[dead link]
  13. ^ a b c d "Prince beheaded in public for King Faisal's murder.", The Times, London, 19 June 1975, p. 1
  14. ^ a b c Motives for Slaying Offered The Daily News, p. 5. 27 March 1975. Retrieved 25 March 2015, via news.google.com
  • "Assassin's Fate and Motives Unknown." The New York Times 27 March 1975 : 3.
  • de Onis, Juan. "Motive Unknown." The New York Times 26 March 1975 : 1 & 8.
  • Pace, Eric. "Rumors of a Beheading Draw Crowds in Riyadh." The New York Times 5 April 1975 : 3.