(MENAFN - Arab News) A special criminal court yesterday began trying 22 terror suspects who allegedly belonged to an Al-Qaeda terror cell.
The 21 Saudis and Bahraini were accused of being associated with Al-Qaeda, financing terrorist operations, preparing to carry out terrorist activities, recruiting young men to join the cell headed by Yousuf Al-Ayeeri, training them on military weapons and possessing and selling weapons without licenses.
Yesterday's session was attended by Defendant Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 who received a copy of the charges against them. They were told to present their replies in the next session, and were informed that they have the right to appoint lawyers to defend their cases and the Justice Ministry would pay for it. Defendant Nos. 2 and 3 said they would appoint a lawyer while Defendants 7, 8, 9 and 11 said they would accept the ministry's assistance to appoint lawyers. Defendant Nos. 4 and 15 said they did not have any plan to appoint lawyers and would reply to the charges by themselves.
Defendant No. 1 is accused of transporting and sheltering Al-Ayeeri in preparation for smuggling him out of the Kingdom. He is also accused of using his car for this purpose and providing assistance to Al-Ayeeri despite knowing he was a wanted man.
Defendant No. 1 is also charged with arranging secret meetings between Al-Ayeeri and young recruits and encouraging people to provide financial support to Al-Qaeda and conducting military training for youths. He also fought with security officers in a place between Turba and Leena, alongside Al-Ayeeri.
The charges against other suspects include embracing and spreading the takfiri (branding opponents as infidels) ideology, providing shelter to wanted terrorists, helping to forge travel documents, traveling to crisis-ridden countries.
Defendant No. 5 is accused of transferring SR117,000 to Al-Ayeeri, encouraging militants to kill foreign workers and transferring money to foreign countries using illegal methods. An alleged member of the terror cell's advisory board, he is also accused of inciting inmates in the jail to riot.
The charges against Defendant No. 7 include taking part in a training camp of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on using weapons. He was accused of also destroying his passport to hide information about his journey to places of fighting and his meetings with proponents of terrorism. He obtained a forged passport and Civil ID by paying SR1,500, it was alleged. He allegedly tried to bomb Prince Sultan Air Base.
Defendant No. 8 is accused of supporting and sheltering wanted terrorists such as Khaled Al-Shahri and Turki Al-Qahtani and transporting two terror suspects in his car and hiding them from police. He possessed a computer and CDs containing takfiri material, it was alleged. Defendant No. 11 is charged with possessing 15 boxes full of live ammunition without a license.
By MD AL-SULAMI