Sana’a: A Yemeni court sentenced three Al Qaida members to jail on Sunday for plotting to kill President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and target foreign diplomats, including the US ambassador to Sana’a.

Yemen is battling one of the most active franchises of Al Qaida, known as Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which has carried out a number of foiled attempts to attack US targets, including airliners.

The Sana’a court of first instance sentenced Abdullah Al Kheishani to seven years in prison, Maher Al Ramim to five years and Omar Al Najjar to one year, state news agency Saba said.

The public prosecution had accused Al Kheishani and Al Ramim of monitoring, planning and preparing for the assassination of Hadi outside his residence using booby-trapped vehicles, it said.

Hadi was elected in February 2011 after his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh was eased from power as part of a US-backed power transfer deal which came after months of popular protests that brought the country to the brink of civil war.

Saba said Al Kheishani and Al Najjar were also found guilty of planning and preparing to target military officers and the US ambassador to Sana’a.

Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula last year offered a reward of 3kg of gold for the killing of the US ambassador in Sana’a or 5 million riyals (Dh84,479) for an American soldier in Yemen.

In Libya, US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Benghazi last year when dozens of Islamist gunmen attacked a US diplomatic compound and a nearby CIA annex.

The Sana’a court ordered a fourth member of the militant network, accused of involvement in the plot, to be released because he had already served time in prison, Saba reported.