A special Jeddah court trying 16 defendants accused of supporting terrorists through methods such as collecting donations illegally and using them to recruit youths through deviant ideology started its hearings Tuesday.
The prime suspect, identified as Defendant No. 1, and No. 15, were tried in the sitting. Defendant No.1 denied accusations that he spread deviant ideology, followed Al-Qaeda and made calls to incite trouble in the Kingdom.
The public prosecutor produced evidence including audio and video recordings against the accused. The defendant requested the judge to appoint a suitable defense attorney for him.
He said parts of his statement of confession were prevarications and fabrications added by investigators and that he was forced to make a statement of confession under duress.
On the other hand, the Defendant No. 15 denied his confessional statement in which he said Defendant No. 1 had links with armed groups in Iraq and collected donations for terror financing.
Defendant No.1 said: “My statement is the invention of officials who do not hesitate to forge official statements.” He wanted his original statement so that he could point out the false charges.
Answering questions about illegal fund collections, the defendant told the judge that he sought permission from the rulers to collect funds. He said a sheikh had advised him to go to an adviser at the crown prince’s court to get permission for his fundraising for relief operations.
When the judge asked the defendant to produce evidence for his claim, the defendant requested the court to summon the adviser at the royal court as a witness.
The defendant also requested to let him be free so that he could find an attorney for him. The judge said the court would help him find a lawyer.
When the judge asked him whether he distributed a videotape about a militant unit called “The Islamic Army,” Defendant No. 1 said he did not distribute the tape but handed it to another defendant to obtain the opinion of reliable scholars on it.
The judge also asked him to comment on two video clips in which he expressed his support for jihad, Al-Qaeda and militants in Iraq. He said investigators tampered with the original video to portray him as an extremist.
However, according to information received by Arab News, the tape was recorded before the defendant was arrested and he arranged to smuggle it out of the country as it was strongly incriminating evidence in the event of his arrest.
The court also produced Defendant No. 15 as a witness against the prime accused as he said in his confession statement that Defendant No. 1 used to collect donations for terror funding and also visited Iraq frequently.
He also said he heard a man visiting the Defendant No. 1 asking No. 15 if he thought the ruler and government was kafir (infidels).
He also stated in his confession that meetings were conducted at the house of Defendant No. 1 where Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab was strongly criticized. Members of these meetings also used to criticize the government’s appointment of judges.