BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic militants and their supporters celebrated the death of Saudi King Abdullah on social media Friday, many of them describing him as a "servant" of the Americans who conspired with the West to kill Muslims.
Abdullah, who died at the age of 90, began battling al-Qaida militants around a decade ago when extremists launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. Backed by the kingdom's top ally, the United States, Saudi officials responded with a massive crackdown and has imprisoned suspected militants and sentenced others to death.
Many Islamic extremists consider the Saudi royal family to be corrupt. The Islamic State group, an al-Qaida breakaway group that currently holds a third of Iraq and Syria, often cites Islam's holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, as one of its targets. Saudi Arabia is also part of a U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group in airstrikes.
A man who identifies himself as an Islamic State supporter who uses the name Abu Azzam al-Najdi criticized the late king on Twitter, saying: "He sent his warplanes to kill Muslims in (Syria). He imprisoned Muslim men and women and wherever there was a war against jihadis, he was the first."
Some loyalists of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group also used a hashtag that translate from Arabic into "Death of a Tyrant."
Social media provides a forum for militants and their supporters to air their statements and propaganda videos. Such users typically do not give their full names, if at all, using instead nicknames and pseudonyms.
A jihadi supporter who identifies himself by the name of Omar wrote in English: "The dog that was occupying (the land of the two holy shrines) has finally kicked the bucket, no Bush or Obama to save you from Allah."
One user posted a photo illustration of King Abdullah wearing an orange uniform as a masked man stood behind him carrying a knife to behead him.
"We don't want him to die. We want to slaughter him this way," the post said, referring to Saudi Arabia's tradition of beheading criminals.