Technically, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman missed the actual Holy Week when planning his all-too-real reenactment, but he made up for that slight error on his calendar with 37 executions in a single day. Those included the execution of a student who had been arrested at the airport on his way to Michigan at the age of 17 and of a man who had previously been given a sentence of eight years in jail after the U.N. complained about arbitrary executions and Saudi Arabia agreed to reduce his sentence. It executed him anyway.
According to the Washington Post, those executed were charged with “terrorism-related offenses.” But in Saudi Arabia, that only means expressing an unapproved ideology. Fourteen were charged with taking part in public protests. In the case of the student Mujtaba al-Sweikat, who was taken on his way to visit Western Michigan University and held for seven years before he was beheaded, “terrorism” actually meant a charge of “disobeying the Saudi monarch.” Al-Sweikat was just one of three of those executed who were arrested as a minor. The youngest was 16.
While the Washington Post report mentions that prisoners are executed in Saudi Arabia in public displays of beheading, it doesn’t mention that one of these 37 executions was extra special. As CNN reports, while 36 of the men were beheaded, one was crucified “as a deterrent to others.” According to human rights group, almost all of those executed admitted to their crimes after being subjected to torture in Saudi prisons.
Not only has Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner made multiple visits to bin Salman, but he also used his security clearance to provide the Saudi dictator with the names of suspected enemies. How many people whom Kushner turned over have since been beheaded—or crucified—isn’t clear.
In October 2018, bin Salman lured Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi into the Saudi consulate in Turkey, ambushed him, beat him, tortured him, dismembered him, and murdered him. In addition to sending an agent with a bone saw to begin carving Khashoggi up while he was still alive, the execution team included a body double who wore the dead journalist’s clothing around Istanbul in an effort to confuse investigators. Evidence has since emerged that Khashoggi’s body may have been burned to ash in a specially constructed oven at the home of the Saudi consul.
Both Kushner and Trump have continued to support bin Salman, and provide the weaponry needed to support the Saudi war in Yemen. Last week, Donald Trump issued only his second veto when he overturned a congressional vote to end U.S. involvement in Yemen. The executions this month followed a record number of executions in 2018.