Saudi Arabia executed 81 men on Saturday, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian, for terrorism and other offences including holding “deviant beliefs,” authorities informed, in the biggest mass execution in decades.
The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in all of 2021 and the 27 in 2020. “These individuals, totalling 81, were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” the interior ministry announced in a statement.
“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations, such as ISIS (Islamic State), al Qaeda and the Houthis,” the ministry added. Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organizations,” the statement further added.
The ministry, however, did not elaborate how the executions were carried out. The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the ministry added.
A total of 47 people, including prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr, were executed in one day in 2016. Rights groups have accused Saudi Arabia of enforcing restrictive laws on political and religious expression and criticized it for using the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.