DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi security forces have detained eight citizens suspected of inciting young people to go to join militant groups abroad, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday, citing an Interior Ministry spokesman.
Worried about potential threats from citizens who had traveled to join Islamist insurgents in Syria and Iraq, Saudi Arabia has banned them from fighting abroad, donating money to any faction or sympathizing with militant ideologies.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said security forces arrested the eight during a raid on the town of Tumair, north of the capital Riyadh, following complaints from parents of the young men.
The U.S.-allied kingdom, which survived an al Qaeda onslaught on security and energy installations and foreign housing complexes between 2003 and 2006, has been worried about the return of possibly hundreds of hardened militants who have fought in Syria’s civil war, or in Iraq.
Saudi courts have tried several groups of citizens on charges ranging from providing financial support to militants abroad to plotting attacks inside the kingdom.
In the latest trial, a court in Riyadh found 12 people guilty of plotting to blow up a foreign diplomatic mission, adopting extremist ideology and providing financial support for fighters abroad, SPA said.
The 12, comprising six Saudi citizens, five Yemenis and one Palestinian, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 18 months to 20 years in jail.
Another group of five Saudis and an Omani were convicted of plotting to kill Saudi secret police officers, adopting an extremist ideology and proposing to set up a training camp in Sudan and sentenced them to terms ranging from three to 20 years in jail, SPA said.
Reporting by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Alison Williams