Saudi Arabia tries seven al Qaeda-linked suspects: report
Oct 2, 2011, 8:16 a.m.
JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia is trying seven Saudis accused of creating an al Qaeda-linked "terror cell" and setting up a training camp on the mountains near the country's southern border with Yemen, al-Watan daily newspaper said on Sunday.
The trial is taking place in a special criminal court in Riyadh and is open only to selected local media.
After al Qaeda militants launched attacks on Saudi Arabia in 2003, the authorities arrested thousands on suspicion of links to militant groups. Critics say the 12,000-30,000 people that rights groups say were imprisoned included political activists.
"The court held its fifth hearing yesterday for the case against seven Saudi suspects... accused of setting up a terror cell with the aim of spoiling the land and implementing plans and goals of al Qaeda," al-Watan said.
Al-Watan said the cell was discovered in 2003 after a local spotted the training camp and told the authorities. The militant group is believed to be the most long-standing in the country, set up in 2002, al-Watan quoted anonymous sources as saying.
The group was accused also of attempting a suicide bomb attack at an airport in the north-eastern city of Arar, near the Iraqi border, in coordination with "terror members" outside of the country.
In August, the Interior Ministry said 5,696 people had been detained by the authorities in "militant" cases, of whom 5,080 had already appeared in court.
Last month 41 suspects accused of forming an al Qaeda-linked cell to attack U.S. forces based in neighboring Kuwait and Qatar were put on trial. The verdicts have not yet been announced.
(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Angus McDowall and Louise Ireland)