Saudi convicts 22 on militant charges, sentences 1 to death

Saudi convicts 22 on militant charges, sentences 1 to death
King Abdullah has decreed prison terms for people giving support to extremist organisations or going overseas to fight.

DUBAI - A Saudi court sentenced one person to death and 21 others to various jail sentences after they were convicted of a range of militant crimes, including setting up training camps and identifying oil locations to hit, state news agency SPA said on Wednesday.

Riyadh's concern about Islamist militants has increased over the past two years as conflicts in Syria and Iraq have attracted more of its own citizens to travel there to join groups fighting in the name of jihad.

Of the 22 people convicted, the man sentenced to death was a citizen of Chad, SPA said. The rest, which included another Chadian and a someone described as Bengali, were given prison sentences of between five and 28 years.

The group was convicted of embracing militant ideology, the possession of ammunition in their apartment and firing on security services during a raid on their apartment in Mecca, killing one security officer.

In February, King Abdullah decreed long prison terms for those who travel abroad to fight or who give material or moral support to groups deemed "extremist", including al Qaeda, Syria's Nusra Front and Islamic State.

The conservative Islamic kingdom, a regional ally of the United States, has detained thousands of its own citizens and sentenced hundreds to jail after a campaign of bombings and attacks in the last decade by militants.

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in the kingdom, has described al Qaeda and Islamic State and the ideology they represent as the biggest enemy of Islam.

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