Jihadis, Iran-Backed Militias Slam Saudi Crown Prince's Interview With Fox News

September 27, 2023

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On September 20, 2023, U.S. cable news channel Fox News aired an interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS). The interview, which aired on an episode of Special Report with Brett Baier, touched on several topics, ranging from personal hobbies to domestic and foreign policy.

After the interview aired, several Telegram channels associated with jihadis and Iran-backed militias shared portions of the interview, criticizing MBS's response and stated support for normalized ties with Israel.

Pro-ISIS Outlet

On September 21, the pro-Islamic State (ISIS) Bariqa Telegram channel shared a short clip from the interview in which MBS discussed the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel and the importance of the Palestinian issue.[1]

The post was highly critical of the Saudi royal family, MBS himself, and the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. It said:

"The apostate tyrant bin Salman gave an interview to the U.S. Fox News, denying reports of a Saluli suspension of talks to normalize relations with the Jewish statelet." Saluli is a pejorative used by jihadis to mock the Saudi royal family.

Bariqa also accused MBS of exploiting Palestinians for political gain, noting that in his reference to the Palestinian cause, he addressed it from a nationalist perspective, which ISIS deems unislamic. It said sarcastically: "Of course, he did not forget to use the idol of the Palestinian issue."


Syria-based jihadi cleric Abu Yehya Al-Shami shared a portion of the interview on his Telegram channel in which MBS discussed his passion for video games. Commenting, Al-Shami lashed out, accusing the Crown Prince of oppressing clerics while enjoying idle and worldly pleasures.

He wrote: "The fool, he spends his time playing video games while the nation's top scholars are in his prisons."[2]

Gaza-based jihadi Ahmad Qanitah published a Telegram post mocking the interview and accusing Saudi Arabia of allowing the corruption of Islamic holy sites.[3]

According to Qanitah, MBS suggested that Saudi Arabia was moving closer and closer each day to achieving peace with "the Zionist occupation, which usurps the Muslims' first qiblah and their third-holiest site."[4]

Syrian jihadi cleric Sheikh Majid Al-Rashid posted a portion of the clip with Arabic subtitles, in which MBS discussed a man who was sentenced to death for calling for reform of the Saudi judicial system in his social media posts. In his response, MBS expressed dissatisfaction with the death sentence, but claimed he cannot interfere to stop it. [5]

Commenting on the video, Al-Rashid wrote: "I admit my inability to comment on it, because it is the lowest foolishness and blatant hypocrisy. He is without a care for anyone."

Iran-Backed Militias

On September 20, "Sonia," a Telegram channel linked to Iran-backed militias in Iraq, posted two clips from the interview and a follow-up conversation between the Fox News interviewer and the studio anchor.[6]

The interview question pushed MBS to consider discussion with the U.S. regarding the possibility of normalization of Saudi-Israeli diplomatic relations. In his response, MBS appeared to express support for such normalization.

Commenting on the clip, the channel described Israel as "the Zionist entity" and mocked MBS's stated support for a potential Israeli role in the region. Other users reacted angrily to the post.

In the second video, interviewer Bret Baier described the interview in largely positive terms, noting the credible allegations of human-rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, while also mentioning MBS's attempts to modernize portions of Saudi law.

Commenting on the video, "Sonia" wrote that the Crown Prince attempted to avoid answering the question, casting doubt on Baier's stated impression that MBS was forthright during the interview.

In another post, "Sonia" claimed that Israeli media was "heavily circulating the Crown Prince's statements to Fox News regarding normalization with the Zionist Entity."[7]

On September 21, Al-Khanadiq, a news website linked to Lebanese Hizbullah, published an article downplaying the significance of the interview.[8]

The featured image above the article superimposed a Star of David on MBS, insinuating that the Crown Prince serves Israeli or Jewish interests. The article claimed that the interview, which was conducted in English, was an attempt "to enter again through the [U.S.] door that was closed to him," noting the strain in Saudi-U.S. ties following the killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The article also mocked MBS's decision to appear on a conservative TV network and derided the difficulties faced by the Saudi startup city Neom, the brainchild of MBS.

[1] Telegram, September 21, 2023.

[2] Telegram, September 25, 2023.

[3] Telegram, September 20, 2023.

[4] The direction which Muslims face during their daily prayers.

[5] Telegram, September 21, 2023.

[6] Telegram, September 20, 2023.

Telegram, September 20, 2023.

[7] Telegram, September 20, 2023.

[8] September 21, 2023.

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