Defendants who are Saudi citizens stand behind bars while listening to the charges against them at a state security court in Sana’a on Thursday. The court is hearing the case of five Saudis accused of belonging to Al Qaida. Image Credit: Reuters

Sana’a: Five Saudis accused of belonging to Al Qaida and of plotting attacks went on trial Wednesday in a Yemeni court set up for terrorism cases, the official Saba news agency reported.

The five men face charges of plotting “in association with an armed group belonging to Al Qaida to carry out criminal acts against members of the armed and security forces in Yemen,” Saba said.

They are also on trial for “forging identity documents to obtain passports that enable them to visit Sudan and then Syria,” where foreign Islamists have joined rebel forces, a judicial source said.

All five defendants have pleaded innocent, the source told AFP.

The next hearing is to take place on September 11.

In the latest violence, a senior police officer in the southern province of Shabwa was wounded in a roadside bombing outside his home on Wednesday, a local government official told AFP.

The device, placed at the door of Commander Adlan Al Dalie, exploded as he left his house, said the official, accusing Al Qaida of responsibility.

Late on Tuesday, suspected Al Qaida gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a government official in Hadramawt province of southeast Yemen, Salem Hassan, accused by extremists of “working for Yemeni intelligence services,” a police official said.

Yemen is the ancestral home of Al Qaida founder Osama Bin Laden and home base of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the network’s deadliest franchise according to the United States.

AQAP was formed in January 2009 as a merger of the Yemeni and Saudi branches of Al Qaida.

Its militants took advantage of a decline in central government control during a 2011 uprising that forced veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh from power to seize large swathes of territory across the south.

They were driven back in June 2012 and have been increasingly weakened mainly due to US drone attacks. But they still carry out hit-and-run attacks against security forces.