RIYADH, Aug 27, (AFP): A Saudi court has sentenced 18 militants to up to 20 years in jail on charges that included plotting attacks in the kingdom, local media reported Wednesday. In a trial on Tuesday, six Saudis, five Yemenis, and a Palestinian were sentenced to between 18 months and 20 years in prison, the Al-Watan daily reported.
They were convicted of planning attacks “against a foreign consulate in the kingdom”, “disobeying authorities”, supporting jihadists abroad, funding “terrorism” and possessing weapons, among other charges, it said. The same court — which specialises in terrorism cases — jailed five Saudis and an Omani for between three and 20 years after convicting them of “establishing a fighting training camp in Sudan”, the Al-Hayat daily said.
They were also guilty of “plotting to assassinate officers” in Saudi Arabia and of adopting an extremist ideology, the paper added. In July 2011, the kingdom began a series of prosecutions for alleged offences committed during the peak of al-Qaeda violence in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006. King Abdullah in February decreed jail terms of up to 20 years for citizens who travel to fight abroad, as the country struggles to deter young Saudis from becoming jihadists, after Syria’s conflict attracted several hundred Saudi nationals.
Meanwhile, Saudi authorities on Wednesday beheaded three citizens after they were convicted of murder in separate cases, the interior ministry announced, bringing to 41 the number of executions there this year. Nawaf al-Mutairi was executed in the western city of Medina for the machine-gun killing of fellow Saudi Adel al-Harbi in a dispute, a statement published by the official SPA news agency said.
Another Saudi, Naji Al-Mutleq, was beheaded in the southwestern city of Najran for shooting dead fellow tribesman Abdelhadi al-Mutleq, also with a machine gun, SPA reported. In neighbouring Jazan, authorities executed Musa Dhafiri for stabbing to death Yehia Hamdi following a disagreement, the news agency added.
The beheadings increased to 41 the number of executions carried out in Saudi Arabia this year, according to an AFP tally. Human Rights Watch expressed alarm this month at the surge in the number of executions. Some 19 people were beheaded between Aug 4 and 20. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of Islamic sharia law.