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Saudi Court Tries Militants for Planning Attacks on U.S. Troops

By Glen Carey
September 19, 2011 11:30 AM EDT

A Saudi Arabian court is trying 41 suspected al-Qaeda militants for their alleged roles in planning attacks against U.S. troops based in Qatar and Kuwait and fighting with insurgents in Iraq.

The charges against the defendants, including 38 Saudis, range from training in militant camps in Pakistan, fighting in Iraq with Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and financing terrorism, the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a court hearing. An Afghani, Qatari and Yemeni are also being tried by a Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh, the news service said.

Islamic militants started a series of violent strikes in the country that aimed to weaken the ruling family’s control of the world’s largest oil reserves and break the kingdom’s relationship with its U.S. ally. Militants targeted Western nationals in a campaign of kidnappings and bombings from 2003 until a crackdown, led by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, suppressed militant activity in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia arrested 11,527 people since Sept. 11, 2001, for their alleged involvement in terrorism, the ministry said on April 24. In July, a Saudi court started trials against 85 suspected al-Qaeda militants for their alleged roles in attacks against three housing compounds in Riyadh in May 2003, the official Saudi Press Agency said. As many as 239 people were killed or injured in the assaults, it said.

Other charges against the 41 defendants include transporting weapons, forging documents, inciting militants to fight in Iraq and harboring suspected terrorist, the news service said. The news service didn’t say when the Islamic militants had planned to attack U.S. forces in Qatar and Kuwait.

One of the defendants was a Saudi sergeant working in the military, Arab News reported, citing an unidentified official at the Saudi court. The Saudi used his experience in wireless communications to develop a code for the terrorists’ wireless equipment, the Jeddah-based newspaper reported.

To contact the reporter on this story: Glen Carey in Jeddah at gcarey8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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