Two relatives of Saudi Arabian King Salman were detained by authorities over an alleged coup attempt, The Wall Street Journal reports. Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the king's brother, and the king's nephew Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al Saud (MBN) have both been accused of treason for plotting to unseat the king and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). During their arrest Friday morning, masked guards of the royal court reportedly took them into custody at their homes, searched their properties, and arrested one of MBN's brothers. Details of the alleged coup attempt are unclear, but both men could either face life in prison or execution.
According to the Journal, the men had once been in line for the throne and both spent time as the interior minister. MBN, who was known to have close ties to U.S. intelligence, was considered first in line for the throne until 2017—when MBS rose to power as crown prince and started handing the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom. This isn’t the first time the king and MBS have moved to check potential rivals within the family: in 2017, the duo ordered the detention of dozens of princes, ministers, and other relatives and senior figures of the Saudi elite at the five-star Riyadh Ritz Carlton amid accusations of corruption—a move that critics called a naked play to consolidate power in MBS’ hands.