Appeals Court upholds 15-year jail sentence of ‘Al-Qaeda mufti’

Updated 28 November 2013

Appeals Court upholds 15-year jail sentence of ‘Al-Qaeda mufti’

A special criminal court has upheld a 15-year prison term that was handed to Sulaiman Al-Alwan, also known as the “Al-Qaeda mufti,” in October.
The sentence was upheld after Al-Alwan appealed the preliminary ruling.
Al-Alwan was arrested on April 28, 2004, and released on bail in December 2012 for trial.
The Court of Appeals ruling is final and should be implemented immediately, which means he has six more years in jail and will be banned from traveling for 10 years on completion of his sentence.
The presiding judge of the special court in Riyadh had earlier convicted Al-Alwan of charges of visiting Al-Qaeda members and sanctioning suicide operations.
He was charged with abusing the nation’s judges and bureaucrats and accusing them of being more loyal to the country’s rulers than to divine rules and Prophetic traditions.
He described the religious scholars as “sultans” who only issue fatwas that suit the country’s leaders.
Charges against him also included questioning the legitimacy of the country’s rulers and financing terrorism through Al-Qaeda by collecting for and providing financial aid to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda's leader.
He also called on security personnel not to follow orders from higher authorities to protect them from blasphemy, in addition to supporting 9/11 and breaking parole terms by visiting the houses of suspects arrested in security raids.
The 15-year prison sentence includes eight years for money laundering according to Article 16 of the law against money-laundering.
Al-Alwan is banned from traveling abroad for 10 years.
The defendant is to decide the means of atonement at the end of his sentence and will be subject to new lawsuits if he is found to be in violation of the law once again.

Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 36 min 4 sec ago

Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.