Preacher imprisoned for praising IS
Riyadh’s special criminal court has sentenced a Saudi preacher to five years in prison for praising and supporting terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS), during an Eid sermon at a local mosque in Riyadh in August 2013.
The defendant was also slapped with a five-year travel ban. The defendant was convicted of using Friday sermons to provoke and encourage dissidence, while glorifying terrorist groups and extremist ideas propagated by Al-Qaeda terrorists.
He was also convicted of financially supporting terrorism with more than SR1 million and harboring wanted terrorists. The defendant had previously received a letter from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs ordering him to stop delivering sermons at the mosque.
He was arrested at the end of the Eid sermon he had delivered. The preacher had called on Islamic scholars and the Muslim Ummah to support young people fighting in revolutions during the sermon.
The preacher had also prayed for the release of a Saudi woman, known as the “Lady Al-Qaeda,” who was imprisoned for 15 years for ties with Al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen.
“The defendant had been banned from delivering sermons in mosques or public spaces,” said Tawfik Al-Sudairy, undersecretary at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
The defendant’s lawyers said they plan to appeal the ruling.
“His calls to release terrorists from prison and for Muslims to support fighters militarily and financially defy Islamic principles,” said Al-Sudairy.
The defendant had also told followers that the Egypt crisis could not be resolved through the ballot box, but rather, through providing weapons and launching attacks on legal authorities.
He had also referred to the situation in Iraq, boasting that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, IS leader, is a student of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who was killed by an American airstrike in 2006. He said Al-Baghdadi fulfilled his promise and obligations to release “jihadists” by attacking prisons so that they can continue in their so-called line of duty.
A royal decree issued earlier this year calls for imprisoning anyone involved in fighting abroad for three to 20 years.