Jihadists go to rehab at ‘5-star’ Saudi center
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AFP)– With its indoor pool, sun-splashed outdoor patios and liveried staff, the Saudi complex has the trappings of a luxury resort, however it is in fact a rehab center– for violent jihadists.
Riyadh’s Mohammed bin Nayef Therapy and Care Center, a cushy midway house between prison and flexibility, highlights a controversial Saudi strategy for tackling homegrown extremists.
While the international battle against terrorism is frequently related to drone strikes and torture, the philosophy that underpins the center’s method is that extremism requires not coercion but an ideological cure.Overseen by clerics
and psychologists, it works to avoid convicts who have actually served their sentences from going back to jihad, through what it calls religious counselling and ideological cleansing.”Our focus is on remedying their thoughts, their mistaken beliefs, their variance from Islam, “Yahya Abu Maghayed, a director at the center, stated while offering AFP a golf cart trip of the vast, palm tree-lined complex.The clinic of the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Therapy
and Recommendations, a rehab center for jihadists, on October 4, 2017, in the Saudi capital Riyadh.( AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)The convicts are housed in a series of low-slung structures, equipped with large-screen tvs and king-size beds, all framed by manicured lawns.Many connected to groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban stroll around freely in streaming white bathrobes, and have access to a roomy fitness center, a banquet hall and furnished houses scheduled for sees from spouses.” We make the’recipients’feel they are typical people and still have an opportunity– a possibility to go back to society
,”Abu Maghayed said, insisting the center avoided calling them prisoners or inmates.’Talking remedy’for terrorists Saudi Arabia, long implicated of exporting its ultraconservative Wahhabist Sunni doctrine all over the world, is itself a victim of domestic
horror attacks.The gym of the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Counseling and Recommendations, a rehabilitation center for jihadists, on October 4, 2017, in the Saudi capital Riyadh.( AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has actually looked for to roll back the influence of the ultra-conservative religious establishment, this week jump-started a 41-nation military union to combat Islamist extremism, pledging to wipe terrorism from the face of the Earth.But the rehabilitation facility, established in 2004, is among the centerpieces of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to expunge violent extremism at home.It claims to have actually dealt with more than 3,300 men convicted of terrorism-related crimes, including repatriated Guantanamo Bay detainees.The center possesses a”success rate of 86 percent,”Abu Maghayed said, determined by those males who did not go back to jihad for at least
a decade after finishing from the center.Of the remainder, he stated, most only showed signs of”deviant habits “and just a small number relapsed into violent jihad.An American terrorism expert who has carefully studied the Saudi program stated the recidivism rate was higher, pointing out media reports of graduates from the center who have actually appeared on battlefronts.”Saudis are to be applauded for trying something different– they were one of the first to try a ‘talking cure’for terrorists,”John Horgan, another specialist at Georgia State University, told AFP.The fitness center of the Mohammed bin Nayef Center for Therapy and Recommendations, a rehabilitation center for jihadists, on October 4, 2017, in the Saudi capital Riyadh.(AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)”(However)without higher transparency about its individuals … it’s impossible to understand what worth included, if any, this program brings in reducing the risk of re-engagement in terrorism.”‘Ideas can fight ideas’AFP was offered an opportunity to interview” recipients “if they agreed, but when two bearded, gym-buffed men were approached in their living quarters, they decreased to talk.Critics state there is an ethical threat in treating jihadists, lots of with blood on their hands, with extravagant centers and financial incentives.But Saudi authorities state the threat of sanction is constantly hanging over them.Those who refuse to reform after a minimum stay of 3 months at the center are gone back to”the judicial procedure,”Abu Maghayed said.But more than browbeating, the center pushes for increasing familial bonds, motivating marital relationship and children, a mental tether suggested to make it more difficult to return to violent ways.” You can not counter terrorism by force,”said Ali al-Afnan, an educational psychology specialist at the center.
“Only ideas can fight ideas.”The center uses art treatment as one of its tools.
Comparisons between portraits in the early days of incarceration and those at later stages are used as a metric to study inmates’frame of mind.Abu Maghayed revealed AFP one early painting, which he stated depicted a dismal “Guantanamo mindset”– with splashes of orange, the color of one-piece suits at the notorious prison.Another canvas painted weeks later showed vibrant brushstrokes and sparks of color, depicting hope.As Afnan spoke with AFP, he fielded an abrupt phone call from a former “beneficiary “who when took a trip to Afghanistan to eliminate along with the Taliban.Now wed and with kids, he was looking for advice from Afnan over returning to university for a graduate program. “This man is our function model,” Afnan said after hanging up.
“A shining example of how people should have a second opportunity. “