RIYADH - A Saudi Arabian court on Wednesday sentenced a top al-Qaida strategist to death and jailed 15 others for their role in a series of attacks in the kingdom last decade, Saudi newspapers reported on Thursday.

The judge ordered that the body of Faris al-Zahrani, also known as Abu Jandal al-Azdi, be displayed in public after his death in the most severe form of punishment available under the kingdom's Islamic law, al-Madina and Arab News dailies reported.

From 2003 to 2006 the militant group attacked residential compounds for expatriates and government facilities, killing dozens of Saudis and foreigners in an effort to end the reign of the al-Saud family and expel non-Muslims from the country.

The Saudi authorities ended the campaign by arresting thousands of suspected militants and launching a media campaign to discredit their ideology with the backing of influential clerics and tribal leaders.

Zahrani was found guilty of offences that included embracing extremist ideologies, shedding the blood of Muslims and others, targeting security officials, harbouring fugitives and planning the overthrow of Gulf monarchies.


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