Saudi Arabia to execute over 50 convicted of terrorism

According to local media Saudi Arabia is set to execute more than 50 people convicted of terrorism in one day

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Demonstrators stage a mock beheading to protest the executions in Saudi Arabia

Updated Nov 27, 2015

Saudi Arabia plans to execute more than 50 people convicted of terrorism in a single day, two Saudi newspapers reported on Thursday, without specifying the time of the executions.

The local newspaper Okaz said that 55 people were waiting their executions for “terrorist crimes,” which killed 100 civilians and 71 security personnel.

The executions appear to be a warning to people who sympathise with the various militant groups operating inside the kingdom.

Human rights group Amnesty International said that the increase in executions this year left no option but to take the reports very seriously.

On Monday, another semi-official newspaper al Riyadh said that Saudi Arabia would execute 52 people soon. However, the newspaper later pulled the report from its website without giving an explanation.

Okaz reported that some of those who would be executed were affiliated with Al Qaeda. Others are from Awamiya, a largely Shiite town in the oil-producing eastern province where the government has suppressed protests for equal rights.

Diplomats in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, said that the government has assured them that Saudi Arabia would not execute Shiites convicted after the demonstrations.

Local activists said that Awamiya residents reacted to the executions by blocking roads leading into the city with burning debris.

Okaz reported that the alleged Al Qaeda affiliated militants were accused of trying to overthrow the government and conduct attacks with small weapons, explosives and surface-to-air missiles.

One of prisoners was accused of attempting to buy nuclear material in Yemen, which cost $1.5 million to use in Saudi Arabia.

Awamiya protesters are also charged with sedition, attacks on security officials and participating in protests in the neighboring Bahrain, which has witnessed unrest since 2011.

Ali al-Nimr, whose case sparked an international outcry, is reportedly among those at risk of execution (AFP)

Amnesty International reported this month that Saudi Arabia has already executed more than 150 people this year, mostly by public beheading, the highest record since 1995.

In recent years, the Saudi monarchy has sentenced to death dozens of people convicted of taking part in Al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia from 2003-2006 and again in 2009.

In 2014, the total number of executions were reported to be 90.

DAESH terrorist group has killed dozens people in Saudi Arabia over the past 12 months in mosque attacks and shootings, which targeted members of the Shiite Muslim minority, as well as security officers and Western expatriates.

The Syria and Iraq-based terrorist group has urged its followers in Saudi Arabia to stay in the country and carry out attacks there, instead of traveling to join its self-proclaimed "caliphate."

Saudi police have detained hundreds of people who are suspected of being members of the group and have joined an international coalition by conducting air strikes against DAESH in Syria. Riyadh has also assigned state-affiliated clergy to denounce the group’s ideology.

This year, Saudi courts also sentenced to death seven Shiites convicted of sedition, for participating pro-democracy protests and attacks on police during demonstrations over discrimination from 2011 to 2013.

The two of those men were minors at the time of the protests and the decision of sentencing them to death and displaying their bodies in front of public sparked an international outcry.

This will be the first time that Saudi Arabia has carried out mass executions since a group of militants seized Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979.

TRTWorld and agencies