Speculation About Saudi Plans

Is Ali al-Nimr About to Be Executed?

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There are two things about Ali Mohammed al-Nimr that we know today (December 6, 2016), and they are the same two sad, maddening things that we know about Ali al-Nimr every day: He remains in prison and he is awaiting his fate. Anything else, everything else, is speculation. Today, speculation about Ali al-Nimr is drowning out the few things we actually know.

Ali al-Nimr is the young Saudi protester who faces a sentence of death by beheading followed by a posthumous crucifixion (the public display of his dead body), and we know one other solidly reported thing about him today: he phoned home this morning.
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#SaveThe3: More Saudi Executions Loom

Yesterday, Amnesty International, Reprieve, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, and other major human rights groups began to publicize the horrifying fear that the executions of Dawood al-Marhoon, Abed allahhassan al-Zaher, Ali Mohammad al-Nimr will likely take place today, March 12. The source is a report in Saudi Arabian media which does not name the three, who were teenagers when they were arrested at protests and were convicted of charges up to and including “terrorism,” but which states that mass executions of “terrorists” are impending in the Kingdom.

Okaz, a newspaper in Saudi Arabia is quoted: “The four terrorists awaiting the implementation of the death sentences complement the first group of 47.” That group of 47 included Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, ‪Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s uncle who was a Shiite cleric who encouraged peaceful protest, and 46 others who were beheaded on January 2, as reported here. This is sufficiently similar to how Saudi Arabian authorities published information last autumn in advance of the mass executions in January to lead to human rights organizations sounding their alarms as loudly as possible.
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Saudi Youths Sentenced to Die: Updated 10/12

What is known is that as of today, October 12, ‪Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a 20-year-old Saudi sentenced to death by beheading, has not been beheaded. His body has not been crucified and then displayed, which is the second horrifying part of his sentence. Because corporal and capital sentences in Saudi Arabia are usually implemented on Fridays—after public prayers—dread accompanies the approach of each Friday for friends and family of those sentenced, and then with the confirmation from Ali’s family that his odious sentence was not carried out, a tense non-relief follows. But he is not the only under-age prisoner in Saudi Arabia who has been sentenced to death by beheading.

The European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) has been publicizing three stories: Ali al-Nimr’s and those of Dawood Hussain Almarhoon and Abedallah al-Zaher. All three were arrested before they were 18 years of age, all three have been held in prison since the arrests (each young man was arrested in 2012), and all three have been almost certainly tortured.

As of Saturday, Ali and the other teenagers were moved to the Saudi capital. No advance notice was given to their families, who learned about it after the fact. What this means or portends is not clear.

Ali’s father is quoted in tonight’s Guardian online as saying, “I’m very worried now because they’ve moved my son to a prison in Riyadh and he is in solitary confinement. I expect that this can only mean bad news and I fear he could be executed at any moment. Dawoud al-Marhoon also faces the same fate as my son, but so do six others. So in total there are eight young men who have been sentenced to death. My son is completely innocent.”
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