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.
The legal proceedings mark a significant step in Saudi Arabia’s fight against terror. Authorities had 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 the men a chance to repent.
“In the past few years, the kingdom has been the target of an organized terrorist campaign linked to networks of strife and sedition overseas,” said Interior Minister Prince Nayef.
“This campaign targeted the way of life, economy and principles of Saudi society and sought to create chaos,” he added. “It has direct links to a deviant group that adopts the (mind-set) of al-Qaida.”
The militants have been responsible for more than 30 attacks in the kingdom since May 2003, Nayef said. Those attacks killed 164 people, including 74 security officials, and wounded 657 security officials and 439 civilians…
The government fears a public backlash against its crackdown if it takes overly harsh measures against the militants, and it wants to avoid accusations that it is just trying to please the United States.