Although Prince Naif denied the charges of torture in Saudi prisons, it continues to be a common tool of interrogations approved and ordered by the highest security officials, including Prince Naif. The government claims torture is banned, but it is occurs daily, according to released prisoners and several members of Saudi Mabahith who spoke to the Institute. Some of the following torture methods were used with Mr. Sampson. They include the following:

The state was founded on 22 September 1933, after the land under the control of AbdulAziz was renamed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 15 years before the state of Israel.

Torture in Saudi Arabia is widely used by secret police and other security apparatus. The main focus here is what takes place in Mabahith prisons. Information are so scares and are usually are obtained from released prisoners, who are forced to sign affidavits to stay silence of anything the experience or witness inside prison. Another source is security personal who object to torture but powerless to stop it. Both Saudi citizens are foreigners are subjected to torture, but its severity varies based on racial, tribal, religious, national and other considerations. Political and religious prisoners are the main subject for torture.

Torture is used with knowledge of senior officials as a tool of interrogations, punishment of prisoners, and part of judicial sentences. It is widely known to occur, and has been confirmed in all human right reports written by international organizations and governments.

Police, Mabahith, intelligence, religious police, and military forces all commit acts of torture, which can be by physical and psychological methods.

Political Environment

The country is the largest absolute monarchy in the world ruled by royal decrees. There are no elections, or formal representation. Women, who make up 57% of population, are excluded from the limited political process.

All non Sunni minorities are also excluded from the political and religious institutions.

The vast majority of the political apparatus is made up from members of the royal family and the family of Mohamed Ben AbdulaWahab, the founder of Wahhabism.

The political positions are denominated by members of the royal family, who enjoy automatic special financial and legal privileges. The presence of members of the royal family in government positions is at its highest in history.

The religious institutions are dominated by AbdulWahabi family. These institutions which include the justice system, ministry of Islamic Affairs, religious police, and others are limited to Wahhabi Muslims, which excludes the majority of Saudi population.

Legal Environment

The country depends on Sharia law as interpreted by the Wahhabi denomination of the Hanbali Sunni Islam. All judges in the country are Hanbali (Wahhabi) and graduates of religious institutions like Imam Mohamed Bin Saud University. There are no Maliki, Shafey or Shia judges in the country. This has proven especially hard on Shia citizens who have to face judges deeming them as heretics. Saudi judges do not accept Shia testimonies against Sunnis, or in matters effecting Sunnis.

The Saudi council of ministers approved Monday October 2nd 2001 the new law regulating lawyers licensing, which allows defendants to appoint lawyers to represent them before courts and other government agencies.

The decree also restated that defendants are not to be tortured physically or physiologically by security forces. The law also limited the arrest of defendants to five days if charges were not filed.

A major point of concern is the new law gives unlimited powers to the minister of interior to detain people indefinitely. Also the law doesn’t clarify probable cause needed to hold prisoners over five days. Both powers would be a source of abuses of the rights of prisoners.

The law allows for secret trials which is the norm in the country until the writing of this report. The law allows for flogging and other forms of punishments administratively and judicially.

The law apparently sanctions the harming of prisoners. It reads as follows:

“Banning the physical and physiological harming arrested persons and no punishment can be given except for crimes prohibited by Shariah law and Saudi regulations”.

Although the law was passed in October 2001, lawyers have not been allowed to represent defendants so far except in the case of British and Belgian defendants accused of bombing and alcohol charges.

Confessions are the primary mean to confect defendants in Saudi courts. This legal structure encourages officers to extract confessions from defendants through torture and deception.

There are no cases of remedies or compensations for torture victims. Judges have been powerless to prevent and address torture incidents.

Extra Judicial Flogging

Although they don’t have any judicial powers members of the royal family, local governors, and many security officers ordered flogging for reasons that vary from interrogation, extracting information, punishment to pure revenge.

Interior minister: Prince Naif like many members of the royal family order flogging of citizens as a punishment or “to teach a lesson” to the victims.

On the night of August 12, 1980 which was the night of Muslim feast Eid Al-Fiter, hundreds of prisoners in Dammam Mabahith headquarters started to sing in jubilation for the happy occasion. The prison authority tried to stop the singing by moving 10 prisoners to individual cells. The situation escalated after police started beating prisoners who objected to the movement of their cellmates. On the next day Prince Naif ordered the flogging of all prisoner 100 lashes on their backs.  His orders were read to prisoners prior to the flogging.

Provincial Governors:  Prince Salman Ben AbdulAziz governor of Riyadh has ordered torture by lashing without judicial process. Al-Riyadh newspaper reported on Tuesday 25 September 2001 Issue No.12146 Year 38, that prince Salman, the governor of the capital city Riyadh ordered the doubling of lashes form 15 to 30 to a teenager who harassed women. The lashes were ordered against 13 young men by a committee of religious police, Riyadh governorship, and Riyadh police, none of which have any judicial authority according to Saudi law. Prince Salman also ordered the immediate lashing of four youths who were accused of harassing females in public, according to Al-Riyadh news paper Thursday 17 January 2002 No.12260 Year 39.

Prince Meqran Ben AbdulAziz of Madina ordered the lashing of a dozen Shia high school students who got into a fight with a teacher who insulted their religious beliefs inside class. They were all flogged 300 times. In another incident, an Egyptian man was flogged after he was accused of harassing an Indonesian woman. Arab News said “The Egyptian was flogged before the rioters upon the orders of Madinah Governor Prince Muqrin, and then forwarded to the local court for questioning. ArabNews added “Special security forces were deployed to contain the riot. The Egyptian man was arrested and flogged before the rioters in a bid to defuse the tension.”  (ArabNews March 2002).

A similar action was taken by Prince Meshael Ben Saud of Najran, who ordered the lashing of high School students: Ali Mahdi Al-Masaad, Mubarick Salim Al-Misaad, Ali Yahia Al-Salim, and Ali Siraj Al-Saloom.

Torture Methods

Rotisserie Chicken (Farooj): The victim is shackled and cuffed. The hands and feet of the victim are tide together, while he is lifted by a wooden bar and suspended in the air in close resemblance to a rotisserie chicken. The helpless victim is then severely beaten by sticks and cables and electric shocks are applied.

Saudi Hanging: Also known as “Carcass Hanging.” The victim is cuffed then lifted by his handcuffs from a special hook on the wall or ceiling, and from the metal doors. The victim is hanged from his hands as long as 16 days, such as one case of Ismaili religious prisoner in Al-Hair prison in Riyadh. The victim is beaten all over the body and on the gentiles while hanged.

Blood Circulation: The handcuffs are tightened to cut off blood circulation for hours which causes terrible pain. Several prisoners reported temporary paralysis, or weakening of limps after this torture.

Falaqah: The legs are shackled and lifted by a special wooden bar. Cables and stick are used to beat the sole of the feet for hours at the time. Bleedings are common in these sessions. The victim will crawl for weeks after the beatings.

Severe Beatings: The victim is tied to and beaten by sticks, cables, and any hard objects such as chairs or machine guns. Several prisoners said they were beaten continuously for a week from morning until night.

Penis Blocking: Tying the penis with a thin string to prevent urination for hours or days while the victim is Saudi-hanged.

Anal Molestation: A broomstick in inserted in the anal canal while the victim is hanged from his cuffs or in the Farooj position. General Suliman A-Alwan and Thafer Al-Shehri subjected several prisoners to this torture in Dammam.

Sleep Deprivation: The victim is sleep deprived for up two weeks such as the case of Shaikh Habeeb Hamada from Qateef, who was sleep deprived for two weeks by Thafer Al-Shihri in Dammam Mabahith headquarters. The victim is beaten, soaked with water, and forced to stand. The victim will start hallucinating in few days.

Deprivation of Bathroom Privileges: The victim is not allowed to use the bathroom facilities for days. Shaikh Mohamed Al-Khudair was a victim to this method, which lead to a colon surgery in Al-Markazi hospital in Dammam.

Torture in Saudi prisons is common and a tool of investigations. Torture is carried out with the knowledge and consent of the highest Saudi security officials.

We have confirmed that the following Saudi citizens have been continuously tortured daily for months by Saudi investigators in Riyadh and Dammam.

Torture Victims:

1-     Ahmed Turki Al-Saab, 42, a tribal leader of the Ismaili tribe of Yam in Najran. He was arrested Tuesday January 15 form his house. Several witness reported seeing him in King Khalid hospital in Najran suffering from bruises which indicates torture. Al-Sa’ab was arrested a week after Wall Street Journal published his comments on the religious persecution and demographic mutilation his tribe faced.

2-     Nedhal AlMarzooq (AlShawykhat): 19, from Saihat city arrested 11 September 1996. The former Mabhith chief in Dammam, Sulimam AlAlwan and chief investigator Thafer AlShehri tortured him by cross hanging from his right foot and left hand combined with severe beatings and electric shocks. AlAlwan now serves as the Mabhith chief in Qaseem since 1997.

3-     Wajeeh Al-Khatim: from Saihat arrested 11 September 1996, was tortured by Major Mesfer Al-Ghamdi. He was hanged upside-down and was severely beaten by several soldiers with metal cables at same time.

4-     Abdullah Al-Jafaal: from Saihat arrested 11 September 1996 and tortured in Dammam and Riyadh AlHair prison by severe beatings and Saudi hanging.

5-     Basil Abu AlSaud: from Qateef was tortured severely using different methods, which drove him to try to commit suicide. He was threatened with rape by Colonial Suliman Al-Alwan.

6-     Nasir Abu Al-Liraat: 24, from Qateef was arrested June 28 and transferred to Riyadh after he was tortured in Dammam.

7-     Abdullah AlJarash: 35, teacher from Qateef was tortured in Dammam and Riyadh in the presence of several senior interior ministry officials to confess responsibility to Khober bombing. He remains in Al-Hair maximum-security prison since his arrest in August 1996.

8-     Shaikh AbdulLatif Mohamed Ali: 42, from Dammam arrested September 1996. He spent two years in solitary confinement and was tortured severely. He was taken to hospital several times due to torture.

9-     Syed Mostafa AlQasaab: from Qateef arrested April 1997. He was tortured daily for 6 months. He remains in Al-Haier maximum-security prison in Riyadh.

10- Shaikh Ali Abu Taaki: from Qateef was arrested 26April 1996 then was transferred to Riyadh after Khober bombing. He was tortured by electric shocks and hanging. His torture was sever he had to be carried in a blanket after torture sessions.

11- Shaikh Saeed AlBahar: 34, was tortured by Lieutenant Salah AlMehtersih AlOtaibi. Shaikh Albahhar was kept in solitary confinement for two years.

12- Ali Al-Qattan: 34, teacher from Qateef arrested in August 1996 was tortured in Dammam before was transferred to Riyadh. He had three surgeries due to torture in Alhair prison in Riyadh. A senior Mabahith official who conducted contacts with US officials tortured AlQattan.

13- Mohamed Al-Rabaabi: was tortured in Dammam and Riyadh and lost two teethes. He was tortured to confess responsibility to Riyadh bombing in 1995. He was taped giving that false confession.

14- Hussain Mughais: from Qateef arrested August 1996. He was tortured in Dammam and transferred to Riyadh. He was tortured by hanging and electric shocks on his chest.

15- Shaikh Ali Al-Ghanim Shia Jafari, 36, from Safwa was arrested August 11, 2000 from Saudi-Jordanian borders. He was interrogated in Dammam Mabahith headquarters and tortured severely on daily bases for 5 months. An interior ministry official sentenced him to 5 years in a 10-minute kangaroo court. The institute contacted Dr. Saleh Al-Hujailan, a prominent Saudi lawyer to represent Al-Ghanim but he declined the case.

16- Hussain Marzook Al-Ghobary is 47 year old employee of minister of agriculture from Najran was arrested after the police attack on the main Ismaili mosque in Al-Mansoorah April 23, 2000. He was tortured severely and was beaten on his head and body, which resulted in a mental breakdown. He spent three months in King Khalid hospital in Najran after his release October 2000.

17- Shaikh Salim Al-Qurad tribal leader from Najran was sentenced to 1500 lashes in September 2001 after writing poetry praising the supreme Ismaili leader Shaikh Hussain Al-Makrami.

18- Kamil Abbas, 30, unemployed from Safwa was arrested in September 15 2001 in Safwa police station. He was sleep deprived for 3 days beaten by Officer Ali Al-Motairi in Safwa police station. He remains held incommunicado in Mabahith Dammam headquarters. He has not been allowed a lawyer or family visitation. Famous Saudi lawyer Dr. Salah Al-Hujailan, who is representing Britons in bombing case declined to defend Abbas.

19- Four Ismaili students were flogged because they had a fight with a teacher that follows the official Wahhabi sect who insulted their religious beliefs in the classroom. They were sentenced between 2 to 4 years and 500 to 800 lashes. They were lashed inside their school. They are: Ali Mahdi Al-Masaad, Mubarisk Salim Al-Misaad, Ali Yahia Al-Salim, and Ali Siraj Al-Saloom.  Ali Siraj Al-Saloom, and Ali Yahya Al-Salim, both Ismaili prisoners were released January 22 after they served their sentences. They were arrested 20 months ago and were lashed 500 times.

Death by Torture

The Murders of Mohamed Al-Hayek, AbdulAzizi Al-Tamimi, and Myatham Al-Baher:

1-     AbdulAziz Al-Tamimi, 28, a government employee was arrested with his younger brother from Hawtat Bani Tameem in late 1996 after a murder case. The healthy Al-Tamimi died in February 1997 in Al-Hair maximum prison in Riyadh, and was buried in Al-Oud cemetery in Riyadh, according to his cousin Qanas Al-Tamimi.

2-     Mohamed Hassan Al-Hayek: A government employee, 28, from Qateef was murdered by severe torture in early September 1996 inside Al-Hair prison in Riyadh in the presence of a senior Mabahith officials. Al-Hayek was arrested 27 June 1996 from his office in Jubail and was transferred to Riyadh 3 July 1996. He was buried in undisclosed location somewhere in Riyadh, and his body was never returned to his family. Lieutenant Colonel Al-Hamaad Mabahith chief in the Dammam informed his family in 21 June 1998 of Al-Hayek death and burial.

3-     Maytham Al-Baher: 19, college student from Qateef was tortured by Major Mohamed Ibrahim Al-Aseeri of Mabahith in Dammam. He was tortured by hanging from his cuffs and severe beatings his back and kidneys. Al-Baher died while he was cuffed to his deathbed in Dammam Central hospital 14 October 1996. He was refused any medical treatment for two weeks prior to his hospital admission. He was arrested 13 September 1996. A cellmate of Al-Baher said he was beaten with sticks and kicked on his back, which lead his illness and subsequent death at the Al-Markazi hospital in Dammam.

4-     Ali Al-Malblab, 70, from Al-Jaffer, a Shia prayer caller was arrested by religious police from the mosque sometime in November 1998. He was beaten to death in few hours, and his body was left in front of the mosque. The body then was taken by the government and returned for burial a year after his killing. The killers of Al-Malblab were transferred to Al-Oyoon headquarters as punishment. His family wrote to Prince Naïf and Crown Prince Abdullah and got no response or compensation.


Although lashing is part of Islamic penal code, it was prescribed in Koran for only two very specific situations. 100 lashes were prescribed for adultery. Adultery is only satisfied after four credible witnesses seeing the actual act. The 2nd situation 80 lashes are prescribed for libeling of female honor. Both punishments were mentioned in Koran Chapter 24 (Al-Noor) verses 2 & 3.

40 to 80 lashes for alcohol consumption were prescribed in tradition of the

Prophet Mohamed. The Islamic penal code call these corbel banishments (Had), which means limit or maximum. In Legal terms it means it is the maximum punishment prescribed. In another word, the maximum flogging prescribed in Islamic law is 100 lashes with soft straps or small branches. In addition flogging was prescribed only in the above three situations.

Saudi Arabia however has expanded the use of flogging beyond what is prescribed in Islam to penalize persons such as, rowdy high school students and political dissidents. The Saudi practice of flogging victims thousands of times is beyond any previous Islamic tradition in 1400 years of Islam, and is only practiced in the Kingdom. Surpassing the ‘Had” limit of 100 lash is in violation of Islamic rules, according to prominent Shia and Sunni Muslim clerics contacted by the institute.

Ismaili Yam Tribe leader Shaikh Ahmed Turki Al-Saab, 42, was sentenced to torture by  floggings 1200 times and seven years in prison at  Najran city court (South) on Tuesday April, 23, 2002, less than four months after his statements to the Wall Street Journal. Shaikh Mahdi Theeb Al-Mahaan, 50, Ismaili cleric was arrested prior to the April 23, 2000 government attack on the main Ismaili mosque in Najran. Al-Mahan was charged with sorcery and sentenced for three years and 3000 lashes. He was released in early January from Al-Malaz prison in Riyadh. A court in Jeddah sentenced a Saudi man 4750 floggings for having sex with his sister-in-law. (Al-Iqtisadia newspaper, January 1, 2002).

Tools of Flogging

Islamic law calls for using soft leather straps, robes, and small branches for executing such lashings. Flogging is done for the purpose of humiliation not injury or torture. The government has exceeded these Islamic limitations by using ½ wooden sticks or metal cables and canes that cause injury, skin and bone damage, extremes pain and bleeding.

The execution of lashing as Islamic code prescribes is done with mild force. The arm of the executer (the person holding the strap) should not by lifted high enough to expose his armpit. The tradition calls for holding a Koran underneath the armpit while executing a lashing to prevent harsh force from being applied. Lashing must be light and shouldn’t break skin, cause bleeding, and break bones. Lashing according the Head of Islamic Figh Council of America, DR. Taha Jaber Al-Alwani and AyotAllah Syed Mortaza Shirazi, is meant to humiliate and send a message not to torture, injure flesh and destroy skin.

Due to the work of international organizations on torture in Saudi Arabia, the government took several steps to shield the practice of torture.

Methods of torture have shifted from sever beatings and electric shocks which have caused deaths and physical markings to less obviously physical means, but equally cruel methods. The victims are blindfolded during torture sessions.

It has also taken measures to hide the identity of torturers by giving perpetrators of torture numbers instead of using their real names. Salah Al-Mehtrish Al-Otaibi has been used officer # 118 in his dealing with prisoners instead of his real name. Al-Otaibi is notorious interrogator in Dammam Mabahith headquarters.

Recommended Action:


Contact your local representatives to express your objection to torture in Saudi Arabia. Ask your government to make torture a permanent agenda item in all talks between your government and the Saudi officials. Call and write the provided address below of Saudi embassies and officials.


Make torture a permanent agenda item in all talks with Saudi officials. Make public statements to object to torture in Saudi jails. Require all Saudi security and military officials to answer questioners about torture when applying to visas. Ban all Saudi officials accused of torture from visiting your country, and publish their names. Investigate torture cases and claims. Offer grants to Saudi torture victims for treatment and rehabilitation. Hold workshop on torture at your embassy in Riyadh fro Saudi public. Ask Interior minister Prince Naif, who is currently in Geneva to return the body of Mohamed Al-Hayek to his family for burial.

Useful Addresses:

Send your Faxes directly to interior minister Prince Naif who is currently in Geneva, Switzerland, and ordered the arrest. FAX:  41-22- 758- 0000

Call Adel Al-Jubair at the Saudi Embassy in Washington DC. USA.

Phone: 202-342-3800 Ext. 3000

601 New Hampshire Ave NW

Washington DC 20028

Call prominent Saudi lawyer Dr. Salah Al-Hujailan to ask him to represent Al-Saab. His number is:  966-1- 479-2200.

Time Differences: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia + 7 hours – Geneva + 5 hours. All time Eastern.

Useful links: