Saudi opens trial of 50 Qaeda suspects
Riyadh - A trial opened in Saudi Arabia on Saturday of 50 al-Qaeda suspects accused of carrying out and plotting attacks in the kingdom, including targeting US and British interests, state news agency SPA reported.
It said 47 Saudis, a Syrian and a Yemeni national went on trial in the specialised criminal court in Riyadh.
They are accused of "joining a terror cell in the country belonging to al-Qaeda terrorist network, plotting... to blow up" residential compounds and a public building, and killing an American citizen.
They also face charges of plotting to "blow up the US and British embassies in Riyadh, planning to assassinate a top Saudi state official and top security officers, as well as opening fire on security forces," SPA reported.
The defendants, five of whom appeared in court on Saturday, allegedly possessed weapons and smuggled heavy arms from Iraq into the kingdom "to serve the terrorist network", it added.
In June last year, 85 suspects facing similar charges also went on trial in a special Saudi security court.
In April 2011, a judicial source said 5 080 terror suspects either faced trial or had already been tried before the special court which has come in for criticism from lawyers.
Saudi Arabia was the target of a wave of deadly attacks by al-Qaeda between 2003 and 2006, prompting authorities to launch a crackdown on the local branch of the jihadist network.
Al-Qaeda remains active in neighbouring Yemen, where the Saudi and Yemeni franchises of al-Qaeda has joined forces under the banner of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
It is classified by the US as the most active branch of the global terror network.