Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can Jihadis Be Rehabilitated?

By Bobby Ghosh

It's been described as the Betty Ford Center for terrorists: Saudi Arabian officials boast that the Care Rehabilitation Center, outside Riyadh, has successfully deprogrammed scores of former jihadis, including more than 100 ex-inmates of the U.S.'s Guantánamo Bay military prison. As recently as last fall, Saudi officials claimed the program had a 100% success rate.

That claim was dashed last week, when two alumni of the rehab program proudly announced to the world that they had returned to the jihad. In a video posted online, Saudi nationals Said al-Shihri and Abu al-Hareth al-Oufi — former detainees at Guantánamo Bay — boasted that they had become leaders of al-Qaeda in Yemen. (See pictures of the Care Rehabilitation Center.)

The video could hardly have come at a worse time for the Obama Administration, which has just announced that it will close Gitmo within a year and is already being accused by some Republicans of jeopardizing U.S. security. But it is doubly discomfiting for the Saudi government. Officials in Riyadh now say they have rearrested at least nine other men who had previously been rehabilitated; it's not clear how many of those are ex-Gitmo detainees.

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