Friday, September 18, 2009

The Saudi Executions: UnIslamic and Extra-judicial Killing

It may seem quite disingenuous to some that so many Somalis have expressed sadness, outcry and anger regarding the recent Saudi executions. No foreign friend or foe has ever inflicted upon us as much misery and destruction as we, Somalis, brought upon ourselves. Therefore, if we, Somalis, are, indeed, serious about restoring our dignity and protecting our citizens and natural resources from the injustices and toxics of the foreigners, let us put our house in order and build a nation state that would safeguard our rights at home and abroad.

This short comment is not intended to discuss the position or view of the western legal systems towards the punishment imposed on these six young men. Suffice to say that the methods by which these executions are carried out amount physical torture and are contrary to the Bill of Rights, Charter of Freedoms and other safeguards enumerated in the constitutions, statutes and laws of the Western countries. Instead, I will attempt to examine whether or not these punishments are reflective of the Islamic legal doctrines and injunctions.

The Islamic Law and the Saudi Executions
Since the majority of the provisions in the Saudi Penal Code are based on Islamic law, at least in theory, I would like to examine the Saudi actions under both the strict interpretations of the classic Islamic Law and in light of the expositions by the early Islamic Jurists.

According to the statement by the Saudi Interior Ministry, the six Somali gangsters were convicted of “abducting and robbing taxi drivers”. Thus, there were no allegations of murder in the statement.
Now, based on the above facts, the only possible crime, under Islamic law, which these men can be charged with and which they might be found guilty of is the crime of Hirabah, a crime similar to the Highway Robbery.
Linguistically (Arabic), the term Hirabah comes from the root Hariba, a verb that means to become angry and enraged. By derivation the noun harb (pl. hurub) means variously “war” and “enemy.

In Islamic legal terminology, the term Hirabah is broadly defined as “spreading mischief in the land,” but its precise meaning is “killing by stealth and targeting a defenseless victim in a way intended to cause terror in society.”
This crime , being one of the Hudud crimes, and its punishment is described in the holy Quran as Surah al-Maidah 5 verse 33-34 states “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crufication, or the cutting off the hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter. Except for those who repent before they fall into the power: In that case, know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving and Most Merciful”

The Jurists from the four major schools of jurisprudence in the Sunni Islam have interpreted the punishment contained in the above verse as following:

(A) A Jail time or discretionary punishment (Ta’zir) not leading to death penalty but might include exile will be imposed where Hirabah was committed without seizure of property or causing death.

(B) First strike: With amputation of the right hand from the wrist and the left foot from the ankle where property was seized, but death was not caused.

(C) In the event of a Second strike, that is where the Hirabah is committed for the second time, the offender will face the imputation of the left hand from the wrist and the right foot from ankle.

(D)Where murder occurs in the course of committing Hirabah but no property was seized, the offender will face the death penalty.

(E) The most severe punishment will be imposed where the offender commits murder and seizes property, in which case he will face death penalty and or including crucification.

In the absence of any credible and fair sentencing guidelines, appeal process and competent legal defense in the Saudi justice system, the Saudi executions are, therefore, from Islamic law perspective, unusual, appallingly inhumane, cruelly disproportionate punishment to the crimes allegedly committed by these young men.

I am not questioning the solemn duty of the Saudi government to protect its citizens and maintain law and order rather, my point is that even under the most strict Islamic law interpretations, the charges brought against these young men carry maximum punishment of amputation of their hands and legs and NOT executions.

I wonder if the Saudi authorities would find the guts to impose the same punishment had the offenders were its own citizens or those of powerful foreign country, a sad fact that speaks volumes about the state of administration of justice in the Muslim world today!

The execution of six Somalis in Saudi Arabia is poignant, and would hang on the hearts of Somalis every where in the world.

Saudi authorities executed six Somalis on Monday the 4th of April, 2005 without consent from government or well known mission representing Somalis expatriate in Saudi -Arabia. Despite some Somalis believed that the Saudi authority made dealt with freeloaders who don’t care about their people and country. It was not first time the regime carried out such merciless execution against Somalis in Saudi-Arabia, They also executed five Somalis in same manner in the mid of 1997. . Saudi regime accused the victims armed robberies against taxi drivers, forming a gang which dragged taxi drivers to remote places, but that was false allegation. Saudi secret services failed to capture the genuine culprits and criminals who carry out such operations in Jeddah. They are well known gang; leads by Saudi man based in north Jeddah, the ring leader works with secret service men and shares whatever was stole or robbed. Somalis were scapegoat and denied lawyers represented them. People visited them before they were convicted, and indicated they were tortured physically and mentally and forced them to sign confessions. The investigations were conducted by ruthless interrogators. None of them was guilty of what they were charged, there was not enough evidence supporting the action that had been submitted the court. The court decision was not poetic justice. Saudi authority should pay compensation for the families of the victims and apology before international community; otherwise this could cause severe damage to the bilateral relation in both countries. We are asking Saudi authority and Saudis to stop humiliation, intimidation and respect human dignity. We are asking international human rights to join us and condemn this inhumane action against Somalis living in Saudi –Arabia.

Finally I believe God loves the victims because they were punished on the earth in order to purify them. I am begging from my God to reserve a place for them in the paradise where there will no executions or fear of injustice.

"Six Somalis were suddenly executed in public on 4 April without being informed in advance that their five-year prison sentences, which they had served - and also been lashed - by May 2004, had apparently been changed later to death sentences by a secret procedure," Martin Hill, Horn of Africa researcher for AI, said on Thursday.

Ali Sheikh Yusuf, Abdel-Fatar Ali Hassan, Abdullah Adam Abdullah, Hussein Haroon Mohamed, Abdul-Nur Mohamed Wali and Abdullah Hassan Abdu had been detained in a prison in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's largest city, since their conviction for theft in May 1999.

AI said that the trial of the men, said to be migrant workers from Somali capital Mogadishu, had been inconsistent with international standards on fairness.

The six Somalis were unaware that they were at risk of death, according to AI, which said it had written to the Saudi minister of interior regarding the men's status, but had received no response.

Decrying the secrecy surrounding the Saudi Arabian criminal justice system, the human-rights watchdog said that most defendants and their families were not informed of the charges against them, nor of the progress of legal proceedings.

It further stated that defendants could be convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress, torture or deception.

Trial proceedings took place behind closed doors, AI said, and those accused had no right to legal representation - while in the case of foreign nationals, inadequate or no access to consular assistance was allowed.

AI put the total number of people executed in Saudi Arabia in the last four months at 51, almost two-thirds of which were foreign nationals.

It called on Saudi Arabia's King Fahd to commute all outstanding death sentences, and to bring Saudi trial proceedings into line with international standards.

According to the Somali press, human-rights groups in Mogadishu have also condemned the executions as illegal and contrary to both Islamic Shariah law and international law.

The right to justice, administration of justice and fair trial are all principles that had been set out in the constitution of all Countries,nevertheless, the Saudi regime that claims to be the flag bearer of Islam had clearly demonstrated in action that they have no respect for the values enshrined in the holy book" Qur'aan Akariim" or abide & adhere to any other known international doctrine or rule of law.

The International Convention on the Protection of the rights of all Migrant workers and members of their families, which the United Nations General assembly adapted on December,18,1990 & entered into force on July,1,2003, & The convention establishes basic principles for the treatment of migrant workers and their families, and provides international standards to protect the rights of migrants in Countries of origin,transit & destination. The Convention guarantees the full range of internationally recognized human rights to all migrant workers and their families.

These rights are stipulated in part Three of the treaty & includes the right to life, the right to not be subjected to torture,rape or any other forms of in-humane treatments & atrocities and to the right to due process. Article 16(2) guarantees to migrants and their families" effective protection by the state against violence, physical injury, threat and intimidation.

Beheading of criminals with a Sword or Axe was a common practice of punishment by all ancient civilizations for thousands pf years, and recently the civilized world & even uncivilized ones for that matter, except the Saudi regime abandoned this cruel practice of capital punishment. This barbaric method of punishment is very widely used by the Saudi regime, where not too long ago Six(6) young innocent Somali nationals were unjustly & inhumanly murdered" beheaded" by the tyrannical, atheistic Saudi regime for a crime they did not commit & not found guilty by an independent, genuine court of law. Even if those murdered Somali nationals had actually committed the alleged crime, the punishment for snatching a purse or a wallet could not have carried a death sentence in Islam or any other religion or law that I know of, let alone a barbaric act of beheading, unless of course this punishment by the Saudi regime of beheading the innocent Somalis and other atrocities against the migrant
workers is derived from a Badawiin culture of deceit & dishonest, and in any case the Saudi regime should never in anyway, shape or form pledge or claim allegiance to the Islam & it's holy book"Qur'aan"

The Qur'anic verse that the Saudi regime claims to have based on the murder of the young Somali nationals is in Surat alma'dah, ayah:33 and is as follows;
5:33- (The punishment of those who wage war against Allah & his messenger and shrine with might & main for mischief through the land is: Execution or Crucification, or the cutting off of hands & feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land-------.)

I do sadly recall how an American "Mr Johnson"civilian migrant worker was kidnapped and mercilessly murdered( beheaded) by Saudi terrorists whom I would genuinely advocate not only to be brought to justice but for their sentence to be carried out in the same manner as Mr.Johnson.

Why would the international community want to differentiate between a Saudi Terrorist organization, a Saudi individual terrorist & a Saudi terrorist regime?
Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly most culpable for the terrorist act of Sept.11, 2001 as 15 of the 19 hijackers hailed from Saudi Arabia, furthermore, Osama bin ladin is born to, bred, reared by a close friend of the ruling family, and was later funded & supported by the Saudi regime.

There is a German in which details of atrocities against migrant workers by the Saudi regime was documented & the books' title is:( Saudi Arabien:Die tyrannei der tarsend prinzen) which would translate to " Saudi Arabia: The tyrant of thousand princes" Women from Indonesia, Philippine, Somalia,Palestine, Egypt, Bangladesh and many other Countries who all work as maids in Saudi Arabia have to work 24 hours a day for years without pay, and on top of that they get raped by their bosses, relatives & friends of the boss, and are more often than none stoned to death by the unjust Saudi regime which punishes the innocent migrants for a crime committed by Saudi nationals.

A maid from Bangladesh was convicted to death by stoning, because she wanted to flee the atrocity and slave like treatment of her Saudi employer, she was raped by the son of her employer & got pregnant. Another woman from Bangladesh was raped by a ranking police officer who was a relative of her employer and later deported to her Country bewildered, broke & against her will.The police officer who raped her was hailed & acquitted by verdict issued by the Minister of interior as brave innocent Muslim. A Moroccan woman was enslaved by the family of the Minister of defense and was constantly raped by the security guards of the Minister. The Atrocities & other inhumane treatment against the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia goes on unabated.

Saudi State Executed 6 Somalis Outside The Law
The Saudi Kingdom of Saudi Arabia brutally slaughtered like sheep six young Somali men without due process of law in the port city of Jeddah last Friday of April first 2005. The Interior ministry said that the Somalis were caught while in the process of robbery and piracy in which they wanted to seize a Taxi but the Saudi government had failed to produce any hard evidence in this regard or allow the young Somali men to have access to legal representation.

It is not clear what legal procedures or justice system the Saudis had applied because in accordance with Islam, you cannot kill people without due process of law and you cannot certainly execute people on unproven and dubious grounds. In the cases of robbery etc, the death penalty does not apply on Islamic jurisprudence. So it will be interesting to know what justice systems the Saudi state had applied to finish off the young Somalis.

Somalis at home and around the globe were saddened and dismayed by the cruel and heartless action taken by the Saudi state against 6 Somali men who were virtually refugees in Saudi Arabia.

To conclude, the Saudi state must give believable explanations as to why they executed the 6 Somali youths without fair and open trial. Similarly, the Saudis must alter their aggressive and merciless policies against the Somali people who happen to be in their country for whatever reason otherwise relations between the two peoples and nations will be severely damaged. This does not mean that the law should be overlooked but the manner in which the Saudi police and the security apparatus behave and deal with foreigners is most barbaric, uncivilised and utterly inhumane to say the least.

If I were the president of Somalia, I would have severed all relations with the Saudi government until they apologised and changed their bad treatments against the Somali people. The Saudis must understand the values of human dignity, the importance of God given life and the sacrosanct of God's justice.

Saudi executioner tells all

Saudi Arabia's leading executioner says he is "very proud to do God's work" and does not lose sleep over beheading several people in one day.

In a rare interview, Muhammad Saad al-Beshi, 42, told the Saudi daily Arab News that he had executed numerous women, as well as men.

"Despite the fact that I hate violence against women, when it comes to God's will, I have to carry it out."

He expressed indifference about the number of beheadings he was required to carry out.
I sleep very well... I live a normal life like everyone else
Muhammad Saad al-Beshi

"It doesn't matter to me: two, four, 10 - as long as I'm doing God's will, it doesn't matter how many people I execute".

Under the Gulf kingdom's strict Islamic Sharia laws, the death penalty can be imposed for murder, rape, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking and repeated drug use.

The Saudi authorities report public executions regularly - and are condemned by Western human rights groups.

Choice of death

Mr Beshi said he sometimes shot dead women convicted under Sharia.

"It depends what they ask me to use. Sometimes they ask me to use a sword and sometimes a gun. But most of the time I use the sword," he said.

When they get to the execution square, their strength drains away
Muhammad Saad al-Beshi

His job at a prison in Taif, where he had to handcuff and blindfold prisoners facing death, gave him a taste for executions, he told Arab News.

Back in 1998, when he carried out his first execution in Jeddah, he was nervous, because many people were watching. But now he no longer suffers from "stage fright," he explained.

"The criminal was tied and blindfolded. With one stroke of the sword I severed his head. It rolled metres away," he said, recalling his first beheading.

"There are many people who faint when they witness an execution. I don't know why they come and watch if they don't have the stomach for it," he said.

"No one is afraid of me. I have a lot of relatives, and many friends at the mosque, and I live a normal life like everyone else. There are no drawbacks for my social life."

Treasured sword

He is a contented father of seven.

Beshi trains the next generation of executioners (photo: Arab News)

Mr Beshi said his sword was a gift from the government.

He keeps it razor sharp and sometimes his children help him clean it.

"People are amazed how fast it can separate the head from the body," he said.

Before an execution he visits the victim's family to seek forgiveness for the criminal, which can lead to the criminal's life being spared.

"I always have that hope, until the very last minute, and I pray to God to give the criminal a new lease of life."

Once an execution goes ahead, his only conversation with the prisoner is to tell him or her to recite the "Shahada" - an affirmation of Muslim faith.

"When they get to the execution square, their strength drains away. Then I read the execution order, and at a signal I cut the prisoner's head off," he said.


As an experienced executioner, Mr Beshi now trains others for the grim task. He is proud that his son was taken on as an executioner.

Training focuses on how to hold the sword and where to bring the blade down.

Sometimes he also has to carry out amputations of hands or legs.

"I use a special sharp knife, not a sword. When I cut off a hand I cut it from the joint. If it is a leg the authorities specify where it is to be taken off, so I follow that."