BEIRUT

Middle East

Saudi Arabia sentences Al-Qaeda militant to death over U.S. firm attack

Cars drive past a building under construction in the Saudi coastal city of Jeddah on March 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO/KHALED SAAD

RIYADH: A Saudi court has sentenced to death an Al-Qaeda militant and jailed 10 others over a May 2004 attack that killed six Westerners and a policeman, state media reported.

The defendants, seven of whom are brothers, were convicted of aiding assailants who attacked a US company in the northwestern port town of Yanbu, killing two Americans, two Britons, an Australian and a Canadian, as well as a Saudi, SPA news agency said late Sunday.

The defendant who was sentenced to death was convicted of making explosives used in the attack and receiving training by a member of the group who was killed in the assault, SPA reported.

The others were sentenced to between 3 and 12 years in prison.

SPA did not name any of the defendants who were also charged with sheltering one of the assailants, possessing weapons, and financing the attack, among other charges.

The trial opened in May 2011 and involved four other militants who had been killed in the operation.

A wave of deadly Al-Qaeda attacks in the kingdom between 2003 and 2006 prompted authorities to launch a crackdown on the local branch of the group founded by Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a US commando operation in May 2011.

This had prompted many of the network's militants to shift base to neighbouring Yemen.

The merged franchise they formed, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is regarded by Washington as the jihadist network's most dangerous branch.

The kingdom began in July 2011 a series of prosecutions for alleged offences committed between 2003 and 2006.

 

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