The trial of 85 Al-Qaeda suspects accused of taking part in three major terrorist attacks in the Kingdom began at a special security court Sunday, SPA reported.
The defendants face charges of belonging to Al-Qaeda, of taking part in attacks on public buildings and residential compounds, and of smuggling and possession of weapons, SPA said.
Thirteen of the group are accused of participating in the May 2003 car bombings of three residential compounds that left 129 people dead or wounded, including women and children.
They are also charged with killing members of the public and security officers. Charges also include staging armed resistance against the state security apparatus.
The militants had reportedly formed a cell named after Turki Al-Dandani, who was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Al-Jouf. SPA said the arrests of the 85 suspects had foiled plots to attack two air bases, a residential compound in the Eastern Province and on Saudi Aramco.
Six defendants are also accused of plotting to attack King Khaled Airbase in Khamis Mushayt, Asir Region. Eight others are accused of involvement in planning to attack Prince Sultan Airbase in Al-Kharj, Riyadh Region.
According to a report presented by the prosecutor, Al-Dandani had wanted to carry out major terrorist operations inside the Kingdom quickly and leave the country. Terror cells have been discovered in Riyadh, Al-Qassim, Al-Kharj, Asir, Al-Ahsa, Al-Jouf and Dar’iya.
Penal regulation to fight terrorism approved
Meanwhile, in its first closed-door session, which continued for six hours, the Shoura Council approved the penal regulation for terror crimes and financing, which was presented by the Ministry of Interior.
Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learnt that it took the Shoura Council five years to study the regulation and 58 articles were discussed during the period. The regulation focuses on countering terrorism and drying up the sources of its financing, according to what was announced in April by Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
According to Al-Turki, in the war against Al-Qaeda 11,527 suspects have been arrested since May 12, 2003. Of them, 5,831 have been released while authorities are still holding 5,696 suspects.
Only 616 are still being detained pending investigations while the dossiers of 5,080 people have been handed over to the Bureau of Investigation and Prosecution (BIP) in preparation for referring them to the special court for terror crimes and state security.
Shoura supports women’s franchise
In another development, the Shoura Council dropped an objection by several members against allowing women to vote in municipal council elections. Eighty-nine members voted for women to participate in voting in these councils while 35 objected. Saudi Gazette