Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Terrorist defendants turn on Takfiri Imams | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – There has been a surprising development in the trial of those accused of involvement in the 2003 Riyadh Compound Bombing, with a number of defendants calling for the prosecution of all those who incited them to undertake jihad and urged them to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight, in a development that may result in a new round of arrests.

5 of the 85 defendants accused of being involved in the 2003 Riyadh Compound Bombings – in which 34 people were killed and over 160 wounded – appeared before the Special Criminal Court in Riyadh – which specializes in terrorism cases – on Monday. A number of the defendants stressed the importance of the “list” of sheikhs and religious figures who exploited their youth, issuing fatwas whether via the internet or Friday sermons, supporting and advocating jihad.

One of the 85 defendants asked the Riyadh Special Criminal Court why the prosecution had brought them to trial, but ignored those that had urged and incited them to undertake “jihad”. He stressed that those religious figures and sheikhs who previously issued fatwas against watching television are now appearing on satellite television and making millions of Saudi Riyals [SR].

This comes as a number of defendants in the 85-strong terrorist cell are calling for the prosecution of the sheikhs and religious figures who issued fatwas and deceived them into traveling and fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Monday, defendants’ no. 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, appeared in court to respond to the charges against them. Defendant no. 6 asked the Riyadh Special Criminal Court for more time to respond to the charges against him, as did Defendant no. 8, whose lawyer failed to attend the court session. Defendant no. 7 responded to the charges against him by reading a short statement in which he acknowledged that he had made a mistake, although he said that this was a small mistake. He admitted to meeting with those who carried out this terrorist operation, but claimed that he did not know what they were planning. He also denied to the prosecution’s claim that he met with the terrorist cell in an apartment, claiming not to know anything about this.

The lawyer representing defendants’ no. 9 and 10 read out their response to the charges against them. The lawyer submitted that there is no substantial evidence to back up the charges against defendant no. 9. He acknowledged that his client did flee from officers of the law when the apartment in which he was staying was raided, but he stressed this was not an indication of his guilt, but rather due to his fear and young age. The lawyer stressed that defendant no. 9 was not involved in the actual terrorist attack, and denied the charges of money laundering made against him. As for his time in Iraq and Afghanistan, defendant no. 9’s lawyer acknowledged that his client had traveled, received training, and fought there, but stressed that this does not mean that he is a terrorist or member of Al Qaeda. The lawyer also said that his client was deceived by sheikhs and preachers who issued fatwas calling on Saudi youth to travel abroad and fight, and called on these figures to be prosecuted.

Defendant no. 7 stressed that he never believed that merely being friends with and having dinner with one of the other 85 defendants would result in him facing such charges. He reportedly told the court “a member of the Dandani cell invited me for dinner…when I met him for dinner I saw people holding weapons and involved in terrorists cases.”

Whilst another of the defendants said that he had witnessed a fire-fight at the Al-Roshan apartment complex, and that he had voluntarily surrendered himself to the Saudi security apparatus to give evidence and prove that he had no connection with terrorist operations.

The five defendants rejected claims that they were members of Al Qaeda, stressing that not all military camps in Afghanistan had ties to the terrorist organization. They also reiterated their allegiance to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.