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Rehabbing in Riyadh, Al-Qaeda Style


According to AFP, the Saudi royal family recently completed the construction of a rehab facility for suspected terrorists they’re planning to release, and it sounds pretty lush. The details:

Saudi Arabia is hoping to wean jailed Al-Qaeda militants off religious extremism with counselling, spa treatments and plenty of exercise at a luxury rehabilitation centre in Riyadh.

In between sessions with counsellors and talks on religion, prisoners will be able to relax in the centre’s facilities which include an Olympic-size indoor swimming pool, a sauna, gym and a television hall.

The new complex is the work of the Prince Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Counselling and Care, a body set up seven years ago to rehabilitate extremists jailed during a Saudi crackdown on the local branch of Al-Qaeda.

“Just under 3,000 (Islamist prisoners) will have to go through one of these centres before they can be released,” interior ministry spokesman General Mansur al-Turki told AFP during a tour of the new centre.

Another centre has already opened in the western port city of Jeddah, and three more are planned for the north, east and south of the desert kingdom.

The new facility in Riyadh, however, is the first to offer inmates a taste of luxury as an incentive to moderate their beliefs.

The director of the rehabilitation centers, Said al-Bishi, explained that it’s not all seaweed facials and saunas, though – the detainees also have to go through “seminars on religious affairs, aimed at steering them away from thoughts of jihad.” The guests include some detainees who have been transferred there from Guantanamo Bay after the U.S. has decided they won’t be charged with crimes, in addition to detainees the Saudi government has swept up.

It’s widely known that such detainees, when released, commonly return to their deadly trade, but the Saudi authorities claim their Canyon Ranch with Korans has been effective: The director says that “the percentage of those who rejoin the deviant minority [the Saudi term for AQ] does not exceed 10 percent,” calling that mark “encouraging.”


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