Saudis Behead Three Convicted Terrorists

Saudi authorities on Friday executed three Saudi militants convicted of assassinating several officials two years ago, Saudi authorities said as this Gulf state continued its campaign to stamp out terrorism.

The three men were beheaded in public in the northern Saudi city of al-Jawf where they carried out their crimes, the Interior Ministry said. After the executions, authorities displayed the executed militants in a public square outside a mosque, tying their bodies to poles on top of which were placed their heads.

Their execution marked the first time Saudi authorities announced penalties against convicted terrorists since 1996. The Saudi monarch had announced an amnesty last year promising that repenting militants will not be sentenced to death.

Militants have carried out multiple suicide bombings and kidnappings and fought gun battles with security forces since May 2003. The attacks have been blamed on Al Qaeda (search), the terrorist group headed by Saudi-born terrorist Usama bin Laden (search), and allied militants.

The men executed Friday — Hisham bin Awwad, Mohammed bin Awadh and Amjad bin Abdul Aziz — were convicted in the 2003 killings of a deputy governor, a religious court judge and a police lieutenant.

In May 1996, Saudi authorities beheaded four Saudis who confessed to bombing a U.S.-run military training facility, killing five Americans and two Indians.

Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam under which people convicted of drug trafficking, murder, rape and armed robbery can be executed. Beheadings are carried out with a sword in a public square.