Report: Saudi Arabia Has Beheaded More Than 100 People In Six Months

| by Michael Allen

The Saudi Arabian government has reportedly beheaded 102 people in the past six months, which could end up breaking the country's former record of 192 in 1995.

The Daily Beast notes that Saudi Arabia's recent executions included a Syrian, Ismael Al-Tawm, who was allegedly a drug smuggler, and a Saudi, Rami Al-Khaldi, who was accused of stabbing another Saudi to death.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa director, said in a press release:

"Saudi authorities have been on a campaign of death this year, executing more people in six months than all of the previous year It’s bad enough that Saudi Arabia executes so many people, but to execute people convicted in nonviolent drug offenses shows just how wanton these executions are."

Human Rights Watch claims 14 people executed this year were Pakistani citizens who were allegedly smuggling heroin.

The condemned people wear black bags on their heads, which are cut off with a long sword. Earlier this year, the Saudi government put an ad online looking to hire executioners.

The Saudis claim these are executions of criminals, but the country uses the same execution method and legal justification — claiming it is based on Shariah law — used by Islamic State group, a terrorist organization.

One woman was executed for allegedly "practicing witchcraft and sorcery" in 2011, reported Al Jazeera.

It's been speculated that the executions have increased based on the orders of King Salman, who assumed leadership after his half-brother King Abdullah died in January. 

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution, told The Daily Beast via email:

"The (Saudi) Kingdom is a police state, one of the most severe in the world. It has two major terrorist threats, ISIS and AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). This sends a signal that terrorism and dissent will not be tolerated."

Sources: The Daily Beast, Al Jazeera, Human Rights Watch
Image Credit: U.S. Department of State