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.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 28 min 2 sec ago

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com