Saudi Arabia executes a Shiite cleric and 43 Sunni jihadists


Sheikh Nimr al-NimrScores of Shiite Muslims marched through the Qatif district of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Saturday in protest at the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, an eyewitness said.

Cleric Nimr al-Nimr and three other members of Saudi Arabia’s minority sect were executed earlier alongside 43 Sunni jihadists.

The protesters chanted “down with the Al Saud”, the name of the ruling Saudi royal family, as they marched from Nimr’s home village of al-Awamiya to the region’s main town of Qatif, the only district in Saudi Arabia where Shi’ites are a majority.

Most of those executed were convicted of al Qaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia a decade ago, but four, including prominent cleric Nimr, were Shiite Muslims accused of shooting policemen during anti-government protests in recent years.

The executions took place in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia, four prisons using firing squads and the others beheading. The bodies were then hanged from gibbets in the most severe form of punishment available in the kingdom’s Sharia Islamic law.

Riyadh’s main regional rival Iran and its Shi’ite allies immediately reacted with vigorous condemnation of the execution of Nimr, and Saudi police raised security in a district where the sect is a majority in case of protests, residents said.

The executions seemed mostly aimed at discouraging Saudis from jihadism after bombings and shootings by Sunni militants in Saudi Arabia over the past year killed dozens and the Islamic State group called on followers in the kingdom to stage attacks.

The simultaneous execution of 47 people on security grounds was the biggest mass execution for such offences in Saudi Arabia since the 1980 killing of 63 jihadist rebels who seized Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979.

The 43 Sunni jihadists executed included several prominent al Qaeda figures, including those convicted of responsibility for attacks on Western compounds, government buildings and diplomatic missions that killed hundreds from 2003-06.

However, the execution of four Shiites, including Nimr, who were convicted of shooting and petrol bomb attacks that killed several policemen during anti-government protests in Qatif district from 2011-13, provoked an immediate response abroad.

A top Iranian cleric warned the kingdom’s Al Saud ruling family would be “wiped from the pages of history”, Yemen’s Houthi group described Nimr as a “holy warrior” and Lebanese militia Hezbollah said Riyadh had made “a grave mistake”.

Saudi police increased security in Qatif district of Eastern Province, residents said, a Shiite majority area and site of the protests from 2011-13 in which several police were shot dead as well as over 20 local demonstrators. Bahrain police fired tear gas at several dozen people protesting against the execution of Nimr, a witness said.

Sending a message

In a statement issued on state television and other official media, the Interior Ministry named the dead men and listed crimes that included both involvement in attacks and embracing jihadist ideology.

Mustafa Alani, a security analyst close to the Interior Ministry, commented: “There is a huge popular pressure on the government to punish those people. It included all the leaders of al Qaeda, all the ones responsible for shedding blood. It sends a message.”

Analysts have speculated that the execution of the four Shiites was partly to demonstrate to Saudi Arabia’s majority Sunni Muslims that the government did not differentiate between political violence committed by members of the two sects.

However, human rights groups have consistently attacked the kingdom’s judicial process as unfair, pointing to accusations that confessions have been secured under torture and that defendants in court have been denied access to lawyers.

Riyadh denies practising torture, rejects criticism of its legal process and says its judiciary is independent.

The conservative Islamic kingdom, which usually executes people by public beheading, detained thousands of militant Islamists after the 2003-06 al Qaeda attacks, and has convicted hundreds of them.

However, it also detained hundreds of members of its Shiite minority after protests from 2011-13, during which several policemen were killed in shooting and petrol bomb attacks.

Activists angry

At least three other Shiites were executed alongside Nimr, including Ali al-Rubh, who relatives said was a juvenile at the time of the crime for which he was convicted, Mohammed al-Shayoukh and Mohammed Suwaymil.

Activists in the Shiite district of Qatif have warned of possible protests in response to the executions. However, Nimr’s brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, said he hoped any response would be peaceful.

“My mobile is getting non-stop messages from friends, all shocked and angry. We know four of the names on the list. The fear is for the children among those detained,” an activist in Qatif told Reuters.

The Interior Ministry statement began with Koranic verses justifying the use of execution and state television showed footage of the aftermath of al Qaeda attacks in the last decade. Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh appeared on television soon after to describe the executions as just.

The executions are Saudi Arabia’s first in 2016. At least 157 people were put to death last year, a big increase from the 90 people killed in 2014.




4 responses to “Saudi Arabia executes a Shiite cleric and 43 Sunni jihadists”

  1. He was a murderer when he killed two police officers, that is the death penalty in Saudi land as well as in Iran. Iran is extremely upset that one of their operatives was executed and are threatening retaliation, but they would have done the same if it happened in their country. Hypocritical at it finest when you practice death penalties for murder but don’t like it when it happens to your agents.

  2. wargame1 Avatar

    Saudi Arabia executed 47 Al-Qaeda terrorist including this Nimr ass Nimr AKA Nimr Square in the Chop Chop Square.

    1. I am unsure what is worse, Iran or the Saudis. Saudis are head-choppers and Iranians prefer multiple public hangings like some sick baby mobile hanging about their crib. Another obscure execution still practiced in Iran is stoning to death.

      Sick indeed. And some twisted individuals actually support this.

      Click link to see …

      1. wargame1 Avatar

        Its a form of punishment which is an essential part in the law and order in order protect the innocent. Beheading and hanging was very popular in Europe and many other execution style such as balls cutting tongue cutting, shoving a pointed rod through the ass etc.
        In the modern time we have electric chair, lethal injection. The main important matter is whether the criminal was punished or a innocent was branded as criminal and punished.

        Government can apply any form of punishment but as a citizen we must not take the law in to the hand. We see Al-Qaeda daesh executing people who ever oppose them. These people have no authority to punish people but they are doing it by force.

        As a citizen one may not worried about those punishment if he abide by the law and mind his own business. However injustice can happen sometimes but we have to take the government in confidence and be positive.
        If Saudi wants to switch to electric chair and lethal Injection they may do so. But I support hard punishment for the crime which are severe. Those Al-Qaeda killed a lot of civilian and if they end up in the chop chop square then they asked for it. I do not know about Iran and those who are hanged i.e. about their crime. Iranian mullah are corrupt themselves who regularly do muta. They all should be hanged. I believe the Iranian corrupt regime do a lot of political killing just like those Daesh dogs

Leave a Reply