A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced five men to death for their involvement in a suicide attack campaign on expatriate residential compounds that killed hundreds, according to the country's state news agency.

The men were sentenced on Sunday for their involvement in attacks in 2003, which were part of a three-year al-Qaeda campaign aimed at destabilising Saudi Arabia.

The court sentenced 37 others to terms from three to 35 years in prison for assisting attacks in the capital, Riyadh.

The campaign ended in 2006 and more than 11,000 people were arrested and held in Riyadh's security prisons. Those who were not captured fled to Yemen and, in 2009, joined local fighters to form al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Saudi Arabia has tried hundreds of accused fighters in recent months, jailing some and sentencing others to death for involvement in the 2003-2006 campaign.

Earlier in April, a court sentenced to death Faris al-Zahrani, the "chief strategist", a decade after his reported arrest.

He had been in custody since his arrest near the Yemeni border in 2004, according to the Al-Madina newspaper. 

Saudi's King Abdullah in February issued a royal decree imposing prison terms of three to 20 years on any Saudi citizen who travelled to fight overseas and terms of five to 30 years on anyone who supporterd groups that the government considers to be extremist.

Saudi Arabia has become increasingly concerned about new al-Qaeda attacks due to the ongoing war in Syria, which it says has bred extremism.

Source: Reuters