The Corner

U.S. to Fund an $11 Million Yemeni Terrorist Rehabilitation Center

From AEI’s Chris Harnisch:

News has surfaced that the Yemeni government intends to build a terrorist rehabilitation center with an $11 million grant from the United States within the next three months. Reuters reported on January 27, 2010 that the terrorist rehabilitation center will house Yemeni detainees returning from Guantanamo Bay. Currently, Guantanamo Bay is home to 91 Yemeni detainees. Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — the al Qaeda franchise that deployed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to conduct the Christmas Day attack in the skies over Michigan. Recent experience with the better-funded Saudi rehabilitation program and the Yemeni security forces raises serious questions about the reliability of any such Yemeni effort.

 

Yemen’s government, in cooperation with the country’s religious establishment, has operated an extremist rehabilitation program since at least 2006. The program has sought to de-radicalize Islamist militants who had returned home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan and struggled to reintegrate into Yemeni society. The Yemeni government claimed that the program had a 99% success rate, but it failed to meet the standards of the U.S. government, which continuously opted not to send any Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainees to the program.  Yemen’s northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, had developed a terrorist rehabilitation program that satisfied American officials. Yet many Saudi terrorists from Guantanamo have been released into the Saudi rehabilitation program, which reportedly applies a de-radicalization curriculum revolving around sports, art therapy and other leisure activities, only to return to the battlefield — sometimes in key leadership positions. The proposed Yemeni terrorist rehabilitation program will apparently be modeled on the Saudi program. 

The facility will be located either in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, itself home to a large and active al-Qaeda cell stocked in part by jihadists who escaped from the city’s prison, or in the province of Hadramout — Osama bin Laden’s ancestral home.

Marc Thiessen wrote about the “success” of the Saudi rehabilitation program on this blog, and countless others have written — to little avail — on the topic of what it would take to rehabilitate the president’s detention and counterterrorism policies. The first step is admitting you have a problem.

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