Saudi Arabia executed 37 men, almost all of them from the country’s minority Shiite community, on terrorism-related crimes, the kingdom’s official news agency announced Tuesday. The killings, which were carried out in multiple cities, including Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina are thought to amount to the largest mass execution of Shiites in the Sunni-majority country’s history. The majority of those executed, according to Amnesty International, were “convicted after sham trials that violated international fair trial standards which relied on confessions extracted through torture.”
“The individuals were found guilty of attacking security installations with explosives, killing a number of security officers and cooperating with enemy organizations against the interests of the country, the Interior Ministry said,” according to the Associated Press. “Executions are traditionally carried out after midday prayers. Public displays of the bodies of executed men last for around three hours until late afternoon prayers, with the severed head and body hoisted to the top of a pole overlooking a main square.”
In addition to the gruesome beheadings, one man was crucified after being beheaded, the country’s Interior Ministry said in a statement. “Executions are usually carried out by beheading,” the BBC reports. “Crucifixion following an execution is reserved for crimes seen by the authorities as even more serious.” By Amnesty’s count, the Saudi regime has executed at least 104 people so far this year, a dramatic increase in the number of executions from the previous year. That rise, the AP notes, likely has something to do with U.S. support for the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s regime. “The kingdom and its Sunni-led Arab allies have also been emboldened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s unwavering dedication to pressuring Iran’s Shiite clerical leadership, which includes his decision to pull out of a nuclear agreement with Iran and re-impose punishing sanctions to cripple its economy,” the Associated Press notes.