Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – The latest session of the trial of the 85-member terrorist cell accused of being responsible for the 2003 Riyadh Compound Bombings took place in Riyadh on Tuesday. The Special Criminal Court in Riyadh, which specializes in overseeing terrorism and national security cases, heard the confessions of 6 defendants who are accused of being members of the Al Qaeda organization and traveling to Afghanistan, in addition to possessing arms and explosives and attempting to murder security officers.
One of the defendants in the Riyadh Compound Bombing trial denied the charges made against him by the Saudi Public Prosecutor, including allegations that he had met with known terrorist figures in Afghanistan. The defendant also claimed that there was no truth to the allegations that he was in possession of false passports and a large amount of money when arrested. He also claimed that he had not been arrested, but had rather handed himself over to the authorities. This is contrary to the Saudi Public Prosecution’s allegations that the defendant was given up by his father.
In addition to this, the six defendants explained that they had travelled to Afghanistan after being inspired by religious fatwas issued by Saudi clerics.
This trial is part of the trial of the Turki al-Dandani terrorist cell which was responsible for the 2003 Riyadh Compound Bombings, resulting in 35 people being killed, and 160 injured. The defendants being tried on Tuesday were defendants’ number 8, 12, 16, 17, 28 and 36 of the al-Dandani cell.
The 6 defendants being tried, out of 85 defendants who are being tried as part of the al-Dandani terror cell, were granted additional time by the presiding judge to read their replies and confessions. The 6 defendants are facing a total of 117 charges.
The Saud Public Prosecutor, responding to some of the defendants denials, stressed the evidence of their guilt, as well as the defendants own confessions.
As for the defendants’ claims that these confessions were taken under duress, the prosecutor called on the defendants to provide evidence to back up their claims.
Asharq Al-Awsat published information in 2010 that the Riyadh Compound Bombings had sought to replicate the 9/11 attacks in terms of coordinating the timings of the attack, and targeting more than one target.
A Saudi Human Rights Commission representative, in addition to local media, was present at the hearing on Tuesday.
In a previous Riyadh Compound Bombings trial last year, Defendant number 1 – of 85 – pled guilty to all charges against him. The defendant, a senior militant, described Osama Bin Laden as a martyr and wished his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, success. The defendant said that he expected to be given the death penalty.