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An executioner's tale

It doesnt matter to me: two, four, 10. As long as Im doing God's will


A Saudi executioner's story


It doesnt matter to me: two, four, 10. As long as Im doing God's will, it doesnt matter how many people I execute.


Saudi Arabias leading executioner has lifted the veil on a taboo in the kingdom, revealing the gruesome reality of the daily beheading of men and women in the name of God.

Muhammad Saad al-Beshi, 42, told Arab News in a rare interview that he will sever as many heads as necessary.

"It doesnt matter to me: two, four, 10. As long as Im doing God's will, it doesnt matter how many people I execute."

Male or female, it's all the same, added the executioner for the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

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

He also shoots dead women found guilty under sharia, or Islamic law, which imposes the death penalty for murder, rape, apostasy, armed robbery, drug trafficking and repeated drug use.

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

He developed a taste for the work at a prison in Taif, handcuffing and blindfolding prisoners before execution.

His first job came in 1998. "The criminal was tied and blindfolded. With one stroke of the sword I severed his head. It rolled meters away."

Before an execution, he visits the victims family to ask for forgiveness for the criminal.

The sword is "a gift from the government. I look after it and sharpen it once in a while, and I make sure to clean it of bloodstains." His children sometimes even help.

"Its very sharp. People are amazed how fast it can separate the head from the body."

His only conversation with the prisoner is to tell him to say the "shahada", an affirmation of Muslim faith.

He also trains executioners and is proud that his 22-year-old son Musaed is already qualified to succeed him.

For amputations of hands and legs he uses a special knife.

"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."

"Me? I sleep very well," Beshi said.

The Saudi authorities report regular public executions, which are condemned by Western human rights groups.


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