First Published: 2009-01-27

 
Saudi defends its ‘Soft Counterterrorism Strategy’
 

Riyadh hails success of program to rehabilitate repentant jihadis despite return of Saudi citizen to Al-Qaeda’s ranks.

 

Middle East Online

By Habib Trabelsi - PARIS

Ex-jihadists repenting on television

The Saudi authorities defend their rehabilitation program of ex-jihadis, or "Soft Counterterrorism Strategy", despite the return of a Saudi citizen to Al Qaeda’s ranks - an ex-Guantanamo prisoner who has undergone brainwashing in a rehabilitation center of "lost" repentants.

"The program 'Mounasaha' (coaching) has succeeded in 80 or 90% to rehabilitate ex-detainees in Guantanamo Bay and prisons in Iraq in addition to the lost (i.e. members of the Saudi branch of Al-Qaeda in Saudi phraseology) held in the kingdom," said an official of the Saudi Interior Ministry.

According to the official, quoted Sunday by the local press, 109 Saudis have been transferred, from the US detention camp in Guantanamo (Cuba) where 140 Saudis had been imprisoned since 2001, to the kingdom where they have undergone a rehabilitation program."

Rehabilitation center or earthly paradise with "virgins" as bonus

The official listed "the efforts" made by the Saudi government to put these repentant jihadis back on track.

"The state has provided all the moral and material support to these repentants" in the five rehabilitation centers which were created in 2003 and hosted more than 3,200 patients surrounded by a hundred specialists, including psychotherapists and theologians.

"Some of them have even tied the knot at the expense of the State which is also in charge of paying a monthly salary to someone who is jobless while waiting to be reintegrated into the active life," added the official.

According to local press, this program has already cost the government tens of millions of dollars. In addition to housing conditions, worthy of a luxury hotel, the ex-jihadist patient gets an apartment, a car worth $ 30,000 on his leave.

Shihri and Awfi, two false repentants

“All former Guantanamo detainees have been reintegrated into society. Most of them are married. Some occupy public jobs, others work in the private sector. Others went back to university. Only two: Said Ali al-Shihri and Mohammed Al-Awfi who joined Al-Qaeda,” the official stressed.

Shihri was released in November 2007 from Guantanamo where he was held since 2001. Having received a "good" religious training in a rehabilitation center in Saudi Arabia where he had tasted the pleasures of marriage, he preferred to return to the bush ... in Yemen.

The Saudi, renamed Abu Sayyaf Al-Shihri, said in an online video on Islamist websites he had sworn allegiance to the Yemeni Abu Bassir Nasser Al-Wahishi, the former secretary of Osama bin Laden, and actually the "emir of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

A promotion that plays into the hands of Republicans!

Shihri was promoted “Number 2” of the terrorist group, now based in Yemen after the noose was tightened on the network’s Saudi branch.

Shihri has already begun to get ready for the fray in Yemen where he is involved in an attack which targeted the US embassy in Sanaa last September (16 dead, including 6 attackers).

"The ink of the signature made by the new American president Barak Obama (January 22), ordering the closure of the Guantanamo prison, has not yet dried," a Saudi expert in Islamist groups told “Saudiwave”.

This will bring grist to the mill of Republicans who strongly criticized the (Guantanamo) decision taken by the new Democrat president," added the expert who requested anonymity.

Saudi provides the evil and the remedy

"This should not call into question Saudi Arabia’s program - known in the West as 'Soft Counterterrorism Strategy '- which was adopted by many countries including the United States who have applied it to Arab and Muslim prisoners in their prisons in Iraq," said the expert.

Many Saudis, speaking via print or electronic media, were glad that their country, the birthplace of Wahhabism, a masterpiece of anti-communist jihad of the 1980s and which provided the largest contingent of suicide bombers on September 11, 2001, is now giving lessons in fighting terrorism.

"It is a great pleasure to see big countries, such as the United States and Britain and other Arab and Muslim countries, copying from the country of the two Haramain," hailed Ali Al-Doussari.

Yemen: Home rehabilitation

Yemen, whose nationals constitute nearly half of the 245 prisoners who are still held in Guantanamo Bay, also intends to implement the Saudi recipe, but on its territory, said The Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Saturday.

According to Saleh, the country will receive in the next three months 94 Yemenis who are being held at Guantanamo.

“Our government has asked the US to extradite Yemeni detainees. The previous US administration argued that it will extradite them to Saudi Arabia in order to rehabilitate them.

“But, we have rejected this proposal because we will establish a rehabilitation center in Yemen,” Saleh added.

Burnt child dreads the fire

Saleh, however, promised to ensure that the detainees will not escape to join terrorist groups.

In February 2006, twenty-three detainees escaped from the high-security prison in Sanaa. Among them was Jamal al-Badaoui, considered the mastermind of the attack against the American destroyer USS Cole in Aden in October 2000 which killed 17 US sailors.

Among the fugitives, was also the same Nasser Al-Wahishi, then in command of the "Brigades of Yemen," the new version of Al-Qaeda in Yemen before its recent merger with the Saudi branch of the terror network.

Translated by Dr. Saad Guerraoui, Senior Editor at Middle East Online

 

Turkish MPs back controversial bill bolstering Erdogan powers

Egypt court voids deal to transfer islands to Saudi Arabia

10 Guantanamo prisoners arrive in Oman

Trump criticises ‘obsolete’ NATO

Palestinians, Israelis look ahead to Trump's America

Hamas rejects ‘absurd’ Paris peace conference

Israeli army shoots dead Palestinian in West Bank clashes

Obama warns Trump against undoing Iran deal on anniversary

Turkish policeman who assassinated Russian ambassador buried in unmarked grave

EU foreign affairs chief says bloc will stand by Iran deal

UN judge caught in Turkey coup probe leaves Rwanda court blocked

Tunisia receives two more US patrol boats

Libya forces retake Benghazi district from jihadists

Turkey roadside bomb kills three policemen

Iraq forces retake IS-bombed shrine in Mosul

Heavy snow traps 1,000 motorists in Tunisia

CIA chief warns Trump to watch his words

Burundi begins withdrawal of AMISOM troops

Saudi doubts need for oil output cap extension

Saudi budget airline signs deal for 80 Airbus planes

Palestinians can’t stop US embassy move says Israeli minister

Turkey’s unemployment rate highest since 2010

Syria rebels say will attend Astana negotiations

Hamas to release those arrested over electricity protests

Iranian corruption fugitive caught after international manhunt

In Morocco, reforms stalled with no government formed

Qatar Emir pledges $12m to solve Gaza's electricity crisis

Bahrain building torched in ongoing protests over executions

Clashes near Damascus after negotiator's killing

Iran says US 'hostility' growing despite nuclear deal

Spanish King in Saudi as warship sale mooted

Fighter jet shot down over Libya's Benghazi

French summit tries to revive Middle East peace

Jordan interior, foreign ministers unseated in reshuffle

IS gain ground in oil-rich Syria province

Israel fires on Hamas post in Gaza

Bahrain executes three Shiites over police killings

Over 30 dead as IS attacks city in east Syria

Abbas opens Vatican mission, warns over US embassy move

26 killed as Yemeni forces push rebels back

Civilians killed in Syria air strikes

Turkey suspends pro-Kurdish lawmaker for 'genocide' comment

Saudi Arabia cleric warns of cultural 'depravity'

Russia bypasses Obama, invites Trump to Syria talks

Turkey arrests two over nightclub massacre