The Saudi royal court has announced that King Abdullah's half-brother Prince Muqrin has been named deputy crown prince, a move that sets out clearly his place as second-in-line to the throne.

Muqrin bin Abdulaziz once headed the kingdom's intelligence agency and is the youngest son of the founder of modern Saudi Arabia. The statement says he will retain his title as second deputy prime minister and adviser to the king.

As head of intelligence from 2005 to 2012, Muqrin focused on confronting al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He was born in 1945.

The world's largest oil exporter and U.S. ally is ruled entirely by members of the Al Saud family. Thursday's appointment puts to rest questions about who would succeed Crown Prince Salman, the king's designated successor.