On Saturday, Saudi Arabia executed 81 people in the kingdom’s largest known mass execution in modern history.
Saturday’s mass execution surpassed the record of a January 1980 mass execution of 63 militants convicted of seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979.
During the height of the pandemic, regular executions by Saudi Arabia were less common. However, King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were still directing the executions of criminals who challenged the kingdom’s leadership.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) announced Saturday’s executions, saying they included those “convicted of various crimes, including the murdering of innocent men, women and children.”
“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organizations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda, and the Houthis,” the report stated.
The kingdom said that some of the executed criminals were members of al-Qaida, the Islamic State group, and also backers of Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
According to the SPA report, those executed included 73 Saudis, seven Yemenis, and one Syrian.
“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process, which found them guilty of committing multiple heinous crimes that left a large number of civilians and law enforcement officers dead,” the SPA report said.
“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.
Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was held in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia beheaded 37 Saudi citizens in a mass execution for alleged terrorism-related crimes.
Executions in Saudi Arabia are most often carried out after midday Islamic prayers. Public display of the bodies of those executed lasts for around three hours until late afternoon prayers.