- By Ty McCormickTy McCormick is the Africa editor at Foreign Policy. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, he has reported from more than a dozen countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was the bronze medal recipient of the 2016 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize from the U.N. Correspondents Association and a finalist for the 2015 Kurt Schork Award for international freelance journalism. Prior to joining FP in 2012, he was a freelance Cairo correspondent. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and National Geographic, among others. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and master’s degrees from Oxford University and the Queen’s University Belfast, where he held Clarendon and George J. Mitchell scholarships, respectively.
For the time being at least, the Saudi Arabian jewel thieves slated for execution Tuesday appear to have dodged a bullet — or multiple, for those who were sentenced to go before a firing squad. In the case of Sarhan al-Mashayeh, the lead defendant in the case, the news that the executions would be delayed by at least a week meant avoiding a three-day crucifixion.
Ironically, it may have been the grisly practice itself that bought the defendants their extra week, as the flurry of media attention no doubt played into the Royal Court’s last-minute decision to stay the executions. After all, the entire story of the thieves’ conviction — which involved the alleged torture of minors — is not one the Kingdom wants to see plastered on broadsheets all over the world. Topping it all off with a three-day crucifixion was only asking for a media drubbing.
So how exactly does Saudi Arabia typically carry out its crucifixions? Back in 2009, the Telegraph‘s Damian Thompson explained what fate awaited a similarly unlucky subject: "he will be beheaded first, and his head will be stuck on a pole separately from his crucified torso."
Sends a message, I guess, but not one that wins King Abdullah many points in Washington. Anyway, hasn’t it been a bad enough news day for Saudi Arabia’s royal family?