Care Rehabilitation Center
The Care Rehabilitation Center is a facility in Saudi Arabia intended to re-integrate former jihadists into the mainstream of Saudi culture. The center is located in a former resort complex, complete with swimming pools, and other recreational facilities, outside Riyadh.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown toured the facility on November 2, 2008, and spoke with several former Guantananmo captives. Brown is reported to have spoken with Ghanim Abdul Rahman Al Harbi and Juma al Dossari.
The Saudis had claimed a one hundred percent success rate, until two former Guantanamo captives released a threatening videos to the Internet in January 2009. Following the release of the video Saudi authorities took nine other former captives back into custody. The names of the nine re-apprehended men have not been made public.
Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, son of a deputy prime minister, and a deputy minister for security, had played a role in setting up the program. In late August Abdullah Hassan Tali' al-Asiri, a suspected jihadist, who had been named on the February 2009 Saudi most wanted list, said he wanted to meet the prince when he surrendered, turned out to be a suicide bomber. Some security officials were injured, but the prince escaped serious injury, and Al-Asiri was the only fatality. Yusef Abdullah Saleh Al Rabiesh, a former Guantanamo captive, who went through the rehabilitation program, went on record to express his gratitude to the prince, and to warn his countrymen against being influenced by extremists.
The core of the program is to return extremists to the "true Islam." The program employs intensive religious instruction by deconstructing extremists’ interpretation of the Holy Qur'an. Following rigorous debate, Islamic scholars and clerics, many employed by Saudi Arabia’s universities, establish a foundation for different interpretation that brings extremists back in line to the true meaning of Islam. Saudi Arabia’s rehabilitation program is modeled after a similar program implemented in Egypt in the 1990s. Indonesia and Singapore, in turn, established rehabilitation programs based on the Saudi Arabian model. Program discussions focus on jihad (military and personal struggles), takfir (unbelievers), bay’at (allegiance) and walaah (loyalty to the Muslim community). The program, for example, focuses on how individuals can only wage jihad with government approval — specifically the head or ruler of state — and not through a fatwa issued by an ideologue aligned with a terrorist organization. Counseling and evaluation follows religious instruction. Determining whether former extremists are suitable for release is the responsibility of the Saudi Ministry of Interior and its security forces personnel. A condition of release is placing former detainees under a monitoring system similar to parole or probation. Many released detainees remain under constant surveillance. In June 2010, the Saudi Ministry of Interior determined that 25 of the 120 former Guantanamo Bay detainees who graduated the rehabilitation program returned to terrorist activities. Eleven of the 25 joined Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen. However, the overall recidivism rate of more than 3,000 program graduates as of 2010 remains about 10 percent. Al-Qaeda had previously announced plans to target a key component of the program, which allows fugitive extremists to voluntarily surrender and become eligible for the program. Al-Qaeda’s announcement was intended to challenge Saudi Arabia’s official interpretation of Islam by attempting to draw wavering extremists who desire to give up terrorism back into the embrace of Al-Qaeda.
Success of the program
In its initial years the program was described as successful. Commentators suggested other countries, like Yemen, should run similar rehabilitation programs. One of the first graduates of the program, Khalid Al Hubayshi, continues to be cited as the model of a successful graduate of the program.
According to Peter Taylor the BBC found that the cohort of Saudis repatriated in November 2007 problematic. Taylor called this cohort "batch 10", and reported that many of these captives were not rehabilitated.
Ghassan Abdullah Al-Sharbi's criticism
On November 29, 2016, citing the transcript from his Periodic Review Board, Fox News reported, Ghassan Abdullah Al-Sharbi asserted, staff members at the centre had a “hidden radicalisation programme”. However, neither Fox or the other sites that repeated this report, explained why they thought Al-Sharbi could offer inside information about the operation of the rehabilitation program, when he was still in Guantanamo.
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- Nancy Durham (2009-01-28). "Attempting to rehabilitate Riyadh's jihadists". CBC News. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
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- Peter Taylor (2010-01-13). "Yemen al-Qaeda link to Guantanamo Bay prison". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2010-01-15.
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The stance of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif, the Prince of Humanitarianism, reinforces our love for him and for the guardians of the nation," Al-Rubeish said. "I was extremely happy when I heard the news that he had survived the assassination attempt and was even happier when I saw him and the King on television right after the news was announced." Al-Rubeish called on the people of Saudi Arabia to be "the first line of defense against terrorism and deviant thought and anyone plotting against this secure and stable nation". "We will not forget the Prince’s efforts from the time of my detention in Guantanamo and outside, and we won’t forget his call to my family to inform them of my release while I was still on the airplane home," Al-Rubeishi told Al-Watan. "He cared for us and gave us financial and moral support which continues to this day, so may Allah reward him and preserve him from all harm and preserve our country and our leadership from all harm and return deviating Muslims back to the correct path of guidance.
- "Rehabilitation and Deradicalization: Saudi Arabia’s Counterterrorism Successes and Failures" by Rob L. Wagner, University for Peace: Peace and Conflict Monitor, July 31, 2010
- Caryle Murphy (2010-09-11). "In Saudi Arabia, re-educating terrorists held at Gitmo". Global Post. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23.
Khalid Al Hubayshi, one of the first Saudis released from Guantanamo, said that he and his family were taken to the home of Prince Muhammad. There, he recalled, the prince told him and two other former Guantanamo inmates: "You are our people and we trust you ... and we hope you learn from the past. We are going to take care of you. You are going to get married. We are going to get you back to your jobs. Don’t worry about anything."
- Sonia Verma (2008-09-11). "Terrorists 'cured' with cash, cars and counselling". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theglobeandmail.com%2Fnews%2Fworld%2Farticle708655.ece&date=2011-02-23.
Mr. Al Hubayshi, now 33, is one of the first graduates of a controversial Saudi program designed to rehabilitate hard-core militants who have begun to trickle back home after serving time in U.S. detention.Check date values in:
- Faiza Saleh Ambah (2008-03-25). "From terror camps to day job; Saudi man fought with terrorists but now supports the political process". Hamilton Spectator.
U.S. government documents and interviews with Hubayshi, now living in Saudi Arabia and working at a utilities company, provide a rare look into the mind of a man who trained for religious warfare, never fought in combat and now says he believes in the political process. But "if the government had not helped me marry and get my job back," he said, "I might be in Iraq now."
- Carlyle Murphy (2008-08-21). "Saudis use cash and counseling to fight terrorism". Christian Science Monitor. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23.
The young Saudi's break with militant jihadi ideology was not as swift. It started in Guantánamo, but ripened only after he returned home in 2005 to an unexpected reception. Mr. Hubayshi was treated to a mix of forgiveness, theological reeducation, psychological counseling, prison time, and cash.
- Andy Worthington (2008-04-28). ""They All Knew He Was Crazy": The Strange Case of Gitmo Prisoner Abu Zubaydah". Alternet. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23.
He explained that, while attempting to return home in 1999, he had been arrested and imprisoned by the Pakistanis, who confiscated his passport, and that he had then returned to his job at a utilities company in Saudi Arabia on a false passport. His return to Afghanistan in 2001 came about when he discovered that he was wanted for questioning by the Saudi authorities, and it was at the camp near Jalalabad, where he "adept at making remote-controlled explosive devices triggered by cellphones and light switches," that he attracted the attention of al-Qaeda.
- Caryle Murphy (2008-08-26). "A creative release for militant minds". The National. Archived from the original on 2011-02-23.
They also have individual sessions with Islamic religious scholars. "A religious adviser speaks with you, and asks you what you believe and they discuss with you on what basis you believe in that, and they try to change your mind by convincing," says Khalid al Hubayshi, who was released from Guantanamo in 2005. "It's helped so many guys in the prison, they like it." Prisoners can request a sheikh to talk with, and request a different one if they do not like the one they are first assigned, Mr Hubayshi says.
- Nancy Durham (2009-01-30). "Attempting to rehabilitate Riyadh's jihadists". CBC News. Retrieved 2009-01-30.
- "A nice haven for terrorists". The Economist. 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-30.