According to a recent Associated Press report, the Obama administration plans to transfer 30 of Guantanamo Bay's 80 remaining prisoners to other countries in June and July. The administration is quickly running out of time to close the detention center in Cuba, which the president still hopes to do by the end of his term.
One of the options for departing prisoners is a concept known as terrorist rehabilitation. Much like drug rehabilitation, terrorist rehab programs attempt to de-radicalize participants with a multifaceted intervention strategy.
As Jules Suzdaltsev explains in today's Seeker Daily dispatch, the modern concept of terrorist rehab was developed in Egypt in the 1990s. In an effort to fight the growing influence of Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian officials arranged for religious scholars and community leaders to work directly with.terrorist detainees.
Today, the terrorist rehab industry is centered in Saudi Arabia. The approach is to use core Islamic teachings, delivered by respected religious scholars, to impart the message that true Islam does not support violent extremism. This de-radicalization is supported with counseling sessions, educational opportunities, sports and even art therapy.
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In a process similar to parole, prisoners who can demonstrate that they've been rehabilitated earn additional support and privileges. In some cases, the Saudi government offers employment, housing and even large cash stipends.
But does terrorist rehabilitation actually work? As with so many things, it depends on who you ask. For many years, Saudi Arabia reported a 100 percent success rate with their program, but independent reports -- and some high-profile recidivism -- suggested otherwise. Saudi officials have since issued more realistic estimates.
At least 3,000 former prisoners have passed through terrorist rehab programs in Saudi Arabia. Recent studies suggest the approach has the potential, at least, for significant and long-term success.
-- Glenn McDonald
CBS: Terrorist rehab: Rare look inside Saudi de-radicalization program
Washington Post: Saudi Arabia says 12 percent of its 'rehabilitated' terrorists have returned to terror
NPR: A Test For Saudi Arabia's Terrorist-Rehab Program
PRI: 'Ex-terrorists' in Saudi Arabia find peace through rehab