Saudi Arabia Executes 37 Nationals on Charges of Terrorism

Saudi Arabia Executes 37 Nationals on Charges of Terrorism

The mass execution that took place Tuesday was ratified by a royal decree. The king, who has empowered his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has asserted a bolder and more decisive leadership style than previous monarchs since ascending to the throne four years ago.

It also comes on the heels of Sri Lanka's Easter Day attacks that killed over 300 people, including two Saudi nationals.

While many of those killed were accused of being members of militant groups such as Al-Qaeda, among those executed was the popular Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said Tuesday's executions were carried out in accordance with Islamic law, using language that indicated they were all beheadings.

Saudi authorities arrested 13 "terrorist" suspects the next day, but they did not say where the arrests took place or if they were linked to Sunday's attack.

Numerous Saudi analysts and pro-government writers appeared on al-Ekhbariya and saw the executions as a powerful sign that the kingdom will not hesitate to punish those who go against the country's security.

"The death penalty was implemented. on a number of culprits for adopting extremist terrorist ideologies and forming terrorist cells to corrupt and disrupt security as well as spread chaos and provoke sectarian strife", the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

The Saudi government does not release official statistics on the number of executions it carries out, but state media does report frequently on executions. Opening with a verse from the Quran that condemns attacks that promote disharmony, the statement "warns of great punishment" for those who carry out this violence, according to ABC News. Among those executed was a young man who was convicted of a crime that took place while he was under the age of 18.

The statement named all those executed, which included several from large families and tribes in Saudi Arabia.

Last year, the oil-rich Gulf state carried out the death sentences on 149 people, according to Amnesty International, which said only Iran was known to have executed more people. One of the men, who was sentenced to be crucified, had his body and severed head publicly pinned to a pole as a warning to others, according to AP.

Saudi Arabia has been a target of extremist attacks over the years.

Security forces in the kingdom have been a frequent target of attacks perpetrated by the al-Qaeda and Islamic State groups, Bloomberg reported.

The last major attempted attack is believed to have been in 2016. Al-Ahmed said the sheikh publicly spoke of the need to work closely with Saudi Arabia's Sunni majority and would lead small prayer groups among Shiites.

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