RIYADH, March 7 (Reuters) - A Saudi Arabian court has sentenced three men to death and jailed two others for up to 17 years for their part in a series of militant attacks including the deadly bombing of a foreign housing compound in 2003, state news agency SPA reported.
SPA said that, among other charges, a man identified by the court as “suspect number one” was convicted of involvement in the bombing of the al-Muhaya compound, where expatriates lived, in the capital Riyadh, one of a series of al Qaeda attacks in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia faced a militant insurgency from 2003 to 2006 in which al Qaeda targeted residential compounds for foreign workers and Saudi government facilities, killing dozens of people.
The kingdom responded by arresting thousands of suspected militants and launching a media campaign to discredit their ideology with the backing of influential clerics and tribal leaders.
In the 2003 attack, suspected al Qaeda suicide bombers posing as Saudi police blew up their explosives-laden car in a Riyadh compound housing mostly Arab foreigners, killing 11 people and wounding 122, including 36 children.
The charges in the case also included belonging to an al Qaeda-linked cell, firing on policemen, loading cars with explosives to use in “terrorist” attacks and possessing weapons including rocket-propelled grenades and SAM-7 rockets, SPA reported late on Thursday.
Although convicted, one of the two men sentenced to a prison term will be released after serving time behind bars pending the trial, due to health considerations. (Reporting by Rania El Gamal in Dubai; Editing by Mike Collett-White)