Saudi Arabia charges nearly a thousand with terrorism

Saudi authorities have indicted 991 suspected militants on charges that they participated in terrorist attacks carried out in the kingdom over the last five years, Interior Minister Prince Nayef said Oct. 21. “In the past few years, the kingdom has been the target of an organized terrorist campaign linked to networks of strife and sedition overseas,” Prince Nayef said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The militants have been responsible for more than 30 attacks in the kingdom since May 2003, the statement said. Those attacks killed 164 people, including 74 security officials, and wounded 657 security officials and 439 civilians. Another 160 attacks were reportedly foiled. Nayef’s statement did not specify whether all the suspects were in custody, or their nationalities.

Observers say the charges mark a significant step in Saudi Arabia. Authorities have been reluctant to hold trials for terrorism charges that could result in death sentences until they had shown the public that every effort had been made to give suspects a chance to repent. (AP, Oct. 33)

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