No person was house on the dusty brown campus of the reintegration middle for recovering Islamic extremists. The swimming pool was nonetheless. The lights had been on on the gallery of artwork remedy works, however there have been no guests. Not a slip of paper was misplaced on the psychological and social providers unit.
The beneficiaries of the Saudi authorities program, which helps prisoners reenter society, had been on furlough for household visits for Eid al-Adha, the season of the Feast of the Sacrifice, leaving the place eerily empty, like a U.S. faculty campus on Christmas break.
Solely a portray within the gallery supplied a glimpse of the non secular tolerance that could be a hallmark of this system: It was of a lady smelling a flower, her hair uncovered and flowing, towards the evening sky.
This system, with its campus in Riyadh and one other in Jiddah, grew from a counterterrorism marketing campaign that started in 2004 to reeducate residents who had made their approach house from jihadi coaching camps in Afghanistan and others influenced by them.
About 6,000 males have gone via some type of this system, amongst them 137 former detainees of the U.S. army jail at Guantánamo Bay, none of whom had been convicted of struggle crimes.
The final Guantánamo detainee was despatched to this system in 2017, simply earlier than former President Donald Trump dismantled the workplace that negotiated transfers.
Now the query is whether or not and the way the middle suits into President Joe Biden’s efforts to shut the jail at Guantánamo, which opened greater than 20 years in the past to carry terrorism suspects seized across the globe within the aftermath of the 9/11 assaults.
Thirty-six prisoners stay at Guantánamo at the moment.
Over time, the US has held about 780 males and boys at Guantánamo Bay, with about 660 there at its peak in 2003. Saudi residents had been of explicit curiosity as a result of 15 of the 19 hijackers within the 9/11 assaults had been Saudis.
The Trump administration launched only one prisoner from Guantánamo, a confessed al-Qaida operative who’s presently serving a jail sentence in Riyadh underneath an Obama-era plea settlement. The Biden administration repatriated one other Saudi citizen in Might, however underneath an settlement to ship him for psychiatric remedy for schizophrenia, not jihadi rehabilitation.
Greater than half of the detainees presently at Guantánamo have been cleared for launch however should anticipate the Biden administration to discover a nation prepared to take them in with safety preparations. Most are from Yemen, certainly one of a number of nations Congress considers too unstable to obtain males from Guantánamo.
Different detainees are in plea negotiations with discussions about whether or not convicts may serve their sentences in overseas custody.
The Obama administration had tried to close down the jail, and Saudi Arabia was one of many nations that figured prominently within the resettlement plans. One other was Oman, which obtained 28 Yemeni males in a extremely secretive mission that discovered them wives, properties and jobs, as long as they didn’t inform their neighbors that that they had carried out time at Guantánamo, in accordance former detainees.
None of these males who had been resettled had been ever tried for struggle crimes.
The Obama administration despatched 20 prisoners to the United Arab Emirates, principally Yemenis but additionally a number of Afghans and a person from Russia. However the nation basically jailed them after which abruptly repatriated all however the Russian, drawing human rights protests that the returnees risked persecution.
With that program deemed a failure, the Biden administration has been searching for different choices for cleared captives, chief amongst them the Yemenis.
Different exhausting circumstances embody an ethnic Rohingya Muslim who’s stateless; a Maryland-educated Pakistani who grew to become an informant for the U.S. authorities and fears persecution if he’s repatriated; and a Saudi citizen who has been essential of the dominion’s ruling household.
A current go to to the campus within the outskirts of Riyadh highlighted one risk.
This system was based by and named for Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, a former inside minister who had shut ties to U.S. intelligence companies. When he was compelled out by the dominion’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, this system was renamed the Heart for Counseling and Care.
As described by managers, this system blends courses on nonviolent interpretations of Shariah regulation with bodily health, recreation and counseling geared toward returning those that graduate to their households.
Or, as one employees member referred to as it, undoing “the brainwash that happens” when a younger man is drawn to non secular extremism.
A library options advisable studying about profitable Saudis, “the right people, in order to avoid the wrong role models, not the way that turns you into darkness or death,” Wnyan Obied Alsubaiee, this system’s director, who holds the rank of a significant common, mentioned via an interpreter.
One ebook recounts the story of a Saudi man who studied in New York within the Seventies and rose to prominence in civic life again in his homeland, together with a task in a Saudi-American dialogue after the assaults of 9/11. One other is a biography of a former authorities minister, “Building the Petrochemical Industry in Saudi Arabia.”
Alsubaiee mentioned two former prisoners of Guantánamo within the Saudi jail system could be accepted into this system as soon as they accomplished their sentences. One is Ahmed Muhammed Haza al-Darbi, the confessed al-Qaida terrorist launched by the Trump administration. The identification of the opposite will not be identified.
The director bristled at portrayals of this system as a five-star resort for extremists.
“This is not a prize,” he mentioned. “They are not prisoners anymore. They have to go back to society. We want them to feel accepted and that this is another chance.”
Of the 137 males despatched to Saudi Arabia from Guantánamo, some by the use of Saudi jail, 116 rejoined society and have stayed out of bother, 12 had been recaptured, eight had been killed and one is “wanted,” based on a program reality sheet.