14 in Saudi Arabia face charges of aiding and abetting wanted person Walid al-Raddadi

Bill of indictment included support for al-Qaeda, joining outside organization, pursuing Takfiri ideology

The trial of 14 suspected militants accused of gunning down four French nationals in 2007 began this week.

The shooting happened near the ruins of Madaen Saleh, in the north-western part of the country.

Madaen Saleh, 90 km from the holy city of Madina, is popular with tourists.

The trial is being held in a special penal court in the capital that was set up as part of the Kingdom’s campaign against militants linked to Al-Qaeda who killed dozens of people between 2003 and 2006.

The defendants were also accused of being part of an Al-Qaeda cell, embracing Takfiri approach that violates the Holy Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah and the consensus opinion of the Ulema and committing numerous crimes, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Accused one to three were accused of direct involvement in the killing while 11 others were charged with aiding and abetting them.

The Prosecutor General said four of the men, led by Walid Al-Raddadi, had carried out the gun attack on a group of nine French nationals who were touring the desert.

Raddadi was killed in a shootout with security forces shortly after the attack, Saudi media reported at the time.

The 14 defendants were also accused of firing at security personnel, hijacking cars, attempting to rob automatic teller machines (ATMs), planning terrorist attacks and terrorist financing. SPA did not report whether the defendants denied the charges.

Seven of the suspects were also accused of smoking hashish and using narcotic pills.

A representative of the French embassy, a member of the Human Rights Commission and two relatives each of the defendants attended the session.