Anonymous Attacks Saudi Government over Crucifixion of Protester
By Carey Wedler
(ANTIMEDIA) Hacker group Anonymous claims it has attacked the Saudi government over a high court’s recent decision to crucify and behead a teenage boy because he protested the regime. Amid tacit approval from the West, Anonymous hackers moved to fight the young man’s execution directly by shutting down official Saudi government websites. Anonymous claims its hackers will continue to launch attacks until justice is served.
On Saturday evening, Anonymous posted a video condemning the Saudi regime for its final decision to execute Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was seventeen at the time of his arrest and conviction during the Arab Spring in 2012. It was a follow-up video to one released on September 22 that discussed al-Nimr’s case specifically and warned the Saudi regime to release al-Nimr. The second video, released Saturday evening, noted the hacker group had launched a cyber-attack several days earlier and was displeased the regime had not responded.
“[I]t seems you have ignored our letter and video directed to you,” Anonymous said in the second video. “Since you have ignored our wishes, we will now take action for your ignorance.”
The Saudi Ministry of Justice’s website and other government pages were taken offline Saturday evening. According to the Telegraph, the websites were up and running again by Sunday afternoon. Anonymous reportedly told International Business Times, however, that another “huge attack” is on its way.
Al-Nimr was convicted of ‘encouraging democracy’ with his Blackberry by inviting people to the protest — a charge that has sparked global outrage. Nevertheless, last week the Saudi Special Criminal Court (SCC) rejected al-Nimr’s final appeal to the charges and solidified the crucifixion and beheading sentence — which they can now carry out at any time. The final ruling was made in secret.
The Saudi government also charged al-Nimr with other defiant actions, including possession of a firearm, and has used the weapons accusation as the basis for his harsh conviction. The young man and his family have consistently denied the gun claim — one the government never provided evidence to substantiate. As Anonymous noted in its first video, “After being detained at a juvenile offenders facility, Ali was allegedly denied access to a lawyer and subjected to torture. Campaigners also claim he was forced to sign a confession, which has formed the basis of the case against him.”
British legal aid group Reprieve has also accused the Saudi authorities of torturing al-Nimr to force the confession (Reprieve additionally noted the difficulty of obtaining details about the charges against him due to the SCC’s “opaque” nature). Further, some believe al-Nimr was prosecuted because his uncle is also a dissident.Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, a Shia cleric, was sentenced to death on charges of terrorism and “waging war on God” last year.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the young man’s recent sentencing, the Saudi court’s final decision to crucify Ali Mohammed al-Nimr angered human rights activists, who point to the Saudis’ record number of beheadings and ongoing suppression of human rights. As Anonymous said, “Hundreds of innocent people die each year because of the Saudi Arabian government and they will now be punished for their actions.”
The Special Criminal Court’s finalization of al-Nimr’s execution coincided with the United Nations’ move to make Saudi Arabia a leader in its international panel on human rights — a particularly stark contradiction considering U.N experts specifically condemned al-Nimr’s sentence last week:
“We call upon the Saudi authorities to ensure a fair retrial of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, and to immediately halt the scheduled execution,” U.N. experts said. “We urge the Saudi authorities to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, halt executions of persons convicted who were children at the time of the offense, and ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into all alleged acts of torture.”
The Saudi government is notorious for executing activists who question the monarchy, including pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 cane lashings as punishment for his attempts to speak freely. The U.N. issued an unsuccessful last-minute appeal against Badawi’s punishment, but small gestures like these are ultimately inconsequential when the U.N. itself endorses the Saudi monarchy as an authority on human rights. Powerful Saudi allies, including the United States, praised the appointment and continue to invest in the Saudi government’s human rights violations.
None of the reasons listed for al-Nimr’s execution — from false gun charges to dissent to being related to a dissident — seem to justify the public crucifixion of a young man who advocated democracy, and outrage continues to grow throughout the globe.
The second Anonymous video released over the weekend is addressed directly to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. It states, “We will continue to do this to other government websites…it was not a good idea to anger us, Saudi Arabian government. We hope you listen to us this time and release the young man. You will be treated as a virus and we are the cure.”