Prince Khaled bin Salman, son of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the Saudi Arabian throne, has started receiving death threats for his participation in the airstrikes launched by the U.S. and its Arab allies against the ISIS.
The young prince, an air force pilot, was among eight airmen who carried out attacks this week against ISIL militants in northern Syria. His father, also a former fighter pilot, is Saudi Arabia's defense minister.
Various reports citing Twitter accounts said the air force men were being hunted and "wanted by IS," presumably because they killed fellow Islam brothers. Their throats "will sooner or later be slit," one Twitter quoted as saying an ISIS post on the social media platform.
Another broader threat from another Twitter user posting called for the killing of police as well as military men.
The identities of the Saudi Arabian airmen were revealed after the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) publicized their photos. Some of the pictures showed them standing together and clad in green flight suits with arms around each other while in front of one of their fighter jets.
A photo showed two pilots sitting in a two-man fighter jet. Additional shots of the pilots examining helmets and other equipment in a dressing room were also shown.
Prince Khaled bin Salman was positively identified by local Saudi newspapers, who was shown seated in the cockpit of his F15 fighter, every inch looking like "Saudi Arabia's answer to Top Gun."
The crossed swords ensign of the Royal Saudi Air Force marked their respective fighter jets.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) September 24, 2014
"Quite a number of the brighter and more hard-working Saudi princes are fighter pilots - trained in Britain or America and happy to get up at dawn to go out on patrol. They see it as being in the tradition of their grandfather, Abdul Aziz, the great warrior of the desert who created the Kingdom. He built it with camels. They defend it with Typhoons and F-15s," Robert Lacey, author of The Kingdom: Arabia and the House of Sa'ud, told the Daily Beast.
The truth of the young prince's participation in Tuesday's airstrikes against ISIS in Syria resulted to divided sentiments among the Saudi people. A number of worried citizens said on Twitter the Saudi government has effectively made itself "an enemy of Islam" for bombing ISIS.
Apart from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Jordan also confirmed participation in Tuesday's raids.
The SPA defended the actions of its country's pilots. "The Saudi pilots returned safe and sound on Tuesday morning after having accomplished their duty in carrying out successful and effective strikes against the Islamic State extremist organisation in Syria."
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud express utmost pride for his son as well as the other Saudi air force men for their professionalism and bravery. "My sons, the pilots, fulfilled their obligation toward their religion, their homeland and their king."
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