|Prince Khaled, right, said his offer was a response to what he said were Israeli threats against the life of cleric al-Qarni|
A member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family has increased to $1m a reward offered by a Saudi cleric to anyone who captures an Israeli soldier to swap him for Palestinian prisoners.
Prince Khaled bin Talal, brother of billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told the kingdom’s al-Daleel TV station by telephone on Saturday that he was raising a previous offer made by Sheik Awadh al-Qarni, a prominent Saudi cleric who promised $100,000 for the capture of an Israeli soldier.
“I tell Sheik al-Qarni that I support you and I will pay $900,000 to make it $1m to capture an Israeli soldier to release other prisoners,” said a voice identified as Prince Khaled, who holds no official position in the government.
Al-Qarni had made the offer in response to a similar reward promised by an Israeli family for anyone who catches the person who killed one of its members in 1998, following the exchange this month of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
“The media reported the news of the Zionist occupiers paying a huge sum to anyone who killed the freed Palestinian prisoners,” Al-Qarni, who is well known in Saudi Arabia for his outspoken views, but is not part of the official clerical establishment, said on his Facebook page.
Prince Khaled said he made the offer in response to what he said were Israeli threats against Qarni’s life. He did not provide any further details.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Joseph Kechichnan, a Middle East analyst, said that Khaled’s comments should not be associated with the government of Saudi Arabia.
“Khaled is a private individual. He does not speak for the government of Saudi Arabia. He is an individual known for making comments like that as well.” said Kechichnan.
“But this one is particularly outrageous because it calls for kidnapping and harming of individuals, which is unbecoming and not Islamic to say the least.”