Saudis Fight Extremism With... Rehab?

Saudis rehabilitate terrorists using ideological approach
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2008 1:12 PM CST
If the Saudi rehabilitation program succeeds, it could reduce the ranks of dangerous extremists, achieve domestic and regional stability, and increase safety for potential targets in the West.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – 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.