Riyadh: Saudi Arabia executed 81 men on Saturday, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian, for terrorism and other offences including holding "deviant beliefs", authorities said, 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 ... were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said, citing a statement from the interior ministry.
“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS (Islamic State or Daesh), Al Qaida and the Houthis,” it added.
Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, SPA said.
The ministry statement did not say 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 report added.
“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.
The kingdom executed 63 people in one day in 1980, a year after militants seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, according to state media reports.
An announcement by Saudi state television described those executed as having “followed the footsteps of Satan’’ in carrying out their crimes.
SPA said the accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.