Saudi Arabia has a particular brand of counter-terrorism: a cozy detention center where captured militants share their feelings, practice art therapy, snack on Twix, rumble on PlayStation, and leave with the prospect of a wife. The retreat, Katherine Zoepf writes in the New York Times magazine, is part of the kingdom’s rehabilitation program for jihadis, often age 18-36.
Saudi schools feature jihad-focused curricula in a country founded on the doctrine. But now the Saudis are adopting a decidedly softer approach, trying to “fight thoughts with thoughts,” one teacher said, and prevent militants from turning against them. Scholars disagree over whether new al-Qaeda recruits join for purely religious reasons, but many agree they leave because of fear and disillusionment.