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Published: Monday January 13, 2014 MYT 5:45:02 AM
Updated: Monday January 13, 2014 MYT 5:45:59 AM

Court sentences leader of 2004 Saudi attack to death

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi court on Sunday sentenced the leader of a militant cell involved in a suicide attack on the offices of a foreign company in the Red Sea city of Yanbu nearly 10 years ago in which five Westerners were killed, Saudi media reported.

State news agency SPA said 10 others received sentences of three to 12 years for assisting the attack.

The May, 2004 attack was part of a campaign launched by al Qaeda in 2003 intended to destabilise the U.S.-allied kingdom. Saudi captured or killed many militants in 2006.

Gunmen killed two Americans, two Britons and an Australian at the firm's offices in the Saudi oil and petrochemical hub.

SPA did not name the man sentenced to death or the other convicted militants, identifying them only by numbers.

"Suspect number one was convicted of participating with the terrorist cell that carried out the suicide operation at one of the companies in Yanbu," SPA said, without elaborating on his position in the cell.

The other members of the group were convicted on lesser charges, including receiving one of the participants in the attack when he infiltrated across the border from Yemen.

The court gave the men 30 days to appeal the sentences.

The Yanbu attack was one of a series of bombings and shootings launched by al Qaeda against expatriate compounds, Westerners working in the kingdom and Saudi security forces.

Riyadh crushed the al Qaeda campaign in 2006, detaining more than 11,000 people in its security prisons, it has said.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi; editing by Andrew Roche)

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