Saudi executions: Who were Nimr al-Nimr and Faris al-Shuwail?

Both were among the 47 men executed on terrorism charges, the Saudi interior ministry said

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Prominent Shiite preacher Nimr al-Nimr and leading al-Qaeda ideologue Faris al-Shuwail were among the 47 men executed on terrorism charges, the Saudi interior ministry said on Saturday.

56-year-old Nimr was a driving force behind the protests that broke out in 2011 in the kingdom’s east.

Full story: Saudi Arabia executes 47 terrorism convicts

He was arrested in 2012 and did not deny the political charges against him.

At the time, the Saudi interior ministry had described him as an “instigator of sedition” during his arrest in the eastern village of Awamiya after being wounded.

In October 2014, Nimr’s death sentence was confirmed after he had been found guilty of seeking "foreign meddling" in the kingdom, among other charges.

Meanwhile, Shuwail had been described by Saudi media outlets as the top al-Qaeda ideologue. He is believed to have been conducting research in support of the organization and its operations.

He was arrested in August 2004 during a massive crackdown on the group following a series of deadly attacks.

Shuwail’s role as an al-Qaeda ideologue was seen in his writings, in which he attempted to justify the strategies and tactics employed by the militants.

Most of the 47 men executed were involved in a series of attacks carried out by al-Qaeda from 2003-06 that killed Saudis and foreigners in the kingdom, the interior ministry said.

45 of those executed were of Saudi nationality, alongside one Chadian and one Egyptian, according to a list of names and nationalities published by the Saudi Press Agency. The 47 men were based across 12 regions in the kingdom, the interior ministry statement added.

They were convicted of plotting and carrying out terrorist attacks targeting civilians and security forces in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries.

Saudi Arabia in 2015 suffered a series of further bombing and shooting attacks by militants sympathetic to ISIS. Those attacks killed dozens, increasing pressure on Riyadh to show it was taking strong action.

(With Reuters and AFP)

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