Six Kuwaitis and stateless Arabs, accused of joining a terrorist group that planned to attack U.S. troops in Kuwait, were convicted and sentenced to death on Tuesday. They were captured after clashing with Kuwaiti police in January. The defendants are among 37 Kuwaitis and other nationals accused of joining the Lions of the Peninsula, a group the prosecution claimed was planning the attacks.
One of the group was given a life term, 23 others were ordered jailed for terms ranging from four months to 15 years. Seven members of the group were acquitted. After the January clash with police, which was an unprecedented incidence of terrorist violence in the tiny oil rich country, the group was found to have bombs and chemicals that could be used for making explosives.
The defense had argued the six sentenced to death, three Kuwaitis and three stateless Arabs who live in Kuwait, were planning to go to Iraq and asked for leniency from the court. "I believe those young men have been deceived, and the way to deal with it is not tough sentences," their lawyer, Khaled al-Abdul-Jalil, told the three-judge panel last month.
"They readied themselves only for jihad (holy war) in Iraq," he said. After seeing the "crimes of the Americans in Iraq," including killing Muslim children and women, they believed that "jihad was their duty." Kuwait was a launch pad for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and remains a logistics base for the international coalition, which is fighting an Iraqi insurgency that includes Islamic militants from other Arab nations. Scores of Kuwaiti Islamic fundamentalists have fought in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia and Iraq, reports the AP. I.L.