PARIS: The Saudi prince who fell victim to a spectacular armed raid in Paris, losing ¤250,000 in the process, was the youngest son of the former King Fahd with something of a globetrotting playboy reputation, it emerged yesterday. Sources at Le Bourget airport, where the prince’s private jet was waiting, and police sources said the victim was Abdul Aziz bin Fahd, the multi-millionaire son of King Fahd, who died in 2005.
The 41-year-old prince was the victim of a brazen heist on the Paris ring road on Sunday night when a gang of five to eight heavily armed bandits hijacked the lead car of his 10-car convoy and drove off with three aides. The gang stole ¤250,000 ($335,000) and documents, but released the aides and later torched the prince’s Mercedes and one of their own cars in a village northeast of Paris.
Investigators said yesterday the professionalism of the raid pointed to a possible inside job.
Investigators were impressed by the speed of the attack and the fact they knew exactly which car to hit.“There aren’t that many groups capable of such an attack. We know from the way they acted that they were more than small-time bandits — more so from than the amount of money they stole,” said one investigator.
Meanwhile, considerable mystery continued to swirl around the heist, worthy of a Hollywood movie.
For example, what was the nature of the documents taken?
Local daily Le Parisien said the documents taken in the attack were “sensitive” diplomatic documents but a police source said on Monday this was not certain. “They could be sensitive documents but they could equally well be unimportant,” the source said. But, as one of the detectives now on the investigation pointed out, “the robbers could just have taken the money”.
The Saudi embassy in Paris has remained tight-lipped about the affair but put out a statement that was carried on the official news agency in Saudi Arabia, stressing the vehicle was “hired by a Saudi citizen” and was not an embassy car.
However, the embassy did acknowledge it had “helped the citizen until he left Paris”.
A spokesman for the French foreign ministry, which earlier described the attack as “unacceptable”, said yesterday: “This is a miscellaneous news story, not a diplomatic affair. A police investigation is under way.”
The prince was already at the airport in Le Bourget, north of Paris, when the convoy was attacked. Despite the raid, he took off for an unknown destination. Born April 16, 1973, he was made a minister without portfolio at the tender age of 25 and promoted to head up the office of the council of ministers only two years later. In June 2011, he gave up his council of ministers post and lost his government status in April 2013. In his business career, he has been linked to the Saudi Oger construction group, one of the largest companies in the Middle East founded by former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri.