A Saudi court has sentenced one man to death and another 19 to jail for the deadly attack on the US consulate in the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2004, in which nine people were killed.

Tuesday’s court decision also sentenced the 19 others to up to 25 years in jail for various charges, including supporting the attack on the US mission and plotting other ‘terrorist attacks’, SPA state news agency said.

The suspects were all being tried on charges of belonging to a "deviant group", SPA said, an apparent reference to al-Qaeda.

The 2004 attack on the US consulate killed four Saudi security personnel outside and five staff within. Three of the attackers were killed in the assault and two were captured. 

The SPA state news agency has said that, among other charges, the man sentenced to death, was convicted of participating in killing five people at the consulate, and in planning another attack against foreigners in Tabuk in northern Saudi Arabia.

The authorities will publicly display the body of the man after he is executed.

SPA said all defendants were given 30 days to appeal.

The Jeddah attack followed other deadly bombings and shootings against expatriate compounds, Westerners working in the kingdom and other targets that were part of an al-Qaeda campaign aimed at ousting the ruling Al Saud family.

The series of assaults convinced the Saudi authorities to take the threat posed by al al-Qaeda seriously, which some leading members of the ruling family had previously disregarded, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks show.

Riyadh crushed the al-Qaeda campaign in 2006, detaining more than 11,000 people in its security prisons, it has said.

Families of some of those imprisoned have staged protests accusing the government of jailing them without fair trial, holding prisoners without charge, failing to release them after their terms were served, and torture.

International human rights groups have also accused the authorities of locking up peaceful activists who demanded political change, under the pretext of their battle against al al-Qaeda. Riyadh has repeatedly denied both sets of accusations.

Source: Agencies