Sixteen women, tortured and strangled with their headscarves. This murderous killing spree was accomplished by a construction worker, a true believer of Islamism, a true believer of God, named Saeed Hanaei, a citizen of Iran.
He was corrupted by the wrong kind of beliefs and thoughts. The killing spree was also famous as Spider Killings as referred to by the people and the media that lasted for a year between 2000-2001.
The Cleanser- Saeed Hanaei
Saeed was born to a regular middle-class family in 1962 in Mashhad, Iran. He was a strong believer in sacred forces and was a construction worker by profession. He did not have a traumatic past.
After he married Fatemah, one day a taxi driver mistook his wife for a prostitute while on the roads. In anger, he stashed the driver and abused his wife verbally on reaching home.
He stated that the reason why women are termed as sex workers is that their souls are not pure but are instead filled with dark wrongful desires. This was the turning point of Hanaei’s life from a construction worker to a serial killer.
Criminal Career of Saeed Hanaei
After the incident with the driver, Saeed started planning his modus operandi for the crimes that followed. It started with one night in November 2000, while returning from the construction site he met a prostitute who reminded him of the incident he had encountered with the taxi driver.
He lured her to his home. But on reaching she was strangled with the headscarf she wore until the last breath. Her corpse was tied up wrapped in chadors, a typical black gown-like dress worn by Muslim women, and threw it at the roadside.
This soon became a practice. Or in his words, a holy practice. He continued to lure more women sex workers and kill them. All of them were killed with their headscarves and covered in chadors, knotted the chadors to form a body bag, and thrown at the roadside or in open sewers.
He did not follow any particular type of age category or appearance. As long as she was a prostitute she would be killed by him. All of his victims were of different age groups consisting right from 18 years to 50 years.
Serial Killer Turned Hero
Saeed Hanaei had killed 14 prostitutes and even then he was not arrested yet. Because a lot of people in Iran supported him. According to them, he was cleansing the world free from sins.
Prostitution is a sin and it needs to be cleared off from the world so that the world would be ready for pure lives. This was his exact statement.
Some of the scholars who worked in Mosques quoted a line from the holy Islamic criminal code which stated; “If the killer can prove that the victim was a ‘waste of blood’ then there will be no charge against him”.
The victims indeed were a waste of blood for Saeed. With people around Iran supporting him and promoting his spider killings as a cleansing phenomenon it was never easy to arrest him. People were inspired by him. They even tried copy killings. His wife left him but his son did not.
His 14-year-old son justified his father’s actions by stating, “If my father is executed, dozens will replace him without a doubt. As of now many of the residents had already asked me to continue his actions to create a huge chain to eradicate the sinners”.
Firoozeh, his 14th victim, had a daughter Sarah. While reporting to the authorities and media, Sarah explained the horror she faced there. She was scared and her whole body shivered, apparently her mother alone was not killed at Saeed’s home instead of at their own home.
With supporters and followers increasing, Saeed continued his cruel murder spree until the 16th one, As he was trying to lure the 17th woman to his home, she escaped his grip and went straight to the police station. Saeed was arrested.
However, the story did not end there. Smart, excellent advocates came to represent him in front of the judiciary. The trial went long. In 2002 the court-ordered capital punishment and he was hanged in the same year.
Many of them including his son were shocked at this order and the whole country protested in favor of him. Nonetheless, the execution continued.
Iran is an extremely religious country that has faced oppression among women in a wide range. There was never a question of what the women wanted.
The case of Saeed considered as a hero signifies the narrow-mindedness and lack of moral thinking among the people. Post his death people continue to be inspired by him.
A movie titled “spider killings” was made on Saeed which was banned in Iran by the people as it portrayed the crimes against him and was not supporting prostitution as a sin.