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Al-Qaeda Targeting Saudi Rehabilitation Program | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Saudi Interior Ministry has affirmed that the Al-Qaeda organization is striving to strike at the ideological programs that the authorities have adopted to rehabilitate the thinking of the repentant members of the organization.

The ministry pointed out that Al-Qaeda wanted to strike at these programs by exploiting them in an evil way, particularly the measures related to the voluntary surrender of Al-Qaeda elements.

In its efforts to correct the thinking of the Al-Qaeda elements, Saudi Arabia relies on three methods: The counseling program directed toward those who are in prison; the rehabilitation program for detainees prior to their final release; and the measures related to the voluntary surrender to senior officials of those that are wanted by the security organs. This is a purely ideological process since it depends basically on the policy of “containment” of the repentant members of Al-Qaeda. Questions are always raised regarding the futility of these methods adopted by the Saudi authorities to correct the thinking of the Al-Qaeda members after each case of regression by some that return to join the organization after having earlier changed their thinking.

However, Major General Mansour al-Turki, the security spokesman of the Saudi Interior Ministry, says that the cases of regression of some that profited from these programs that were begun as soon as the war on terror erupted “represent attempts by Al-Qaeda to undermine these programs that have demonstrated their success”. In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Turki said that the counseling and rehabilitation programs succeeded in changing the thinking of a number of Al-Qaeda members and exposed the lies of this organization. He emphasized that these programs are a source of worry and concern for the organization. Othman Hadi al-Umari is a case in point. He is an Al-Qaeda member that renounced his earlier thinking but later rejoined the organization and was captured this year along with the cell of 11 terrorists. The figures show that Saudi Arabia has succeeded in changing the thinking of 80 percent of those that participated in the counseling programs inside Saudi jails. A study conducted by an Interior Ministry adviser, only 10 percent that repent and renounce their wayward ways rejoin the Al-Qaeda organization.

Since this program began operation, the counseling commissions have held more than 5,000 sessions for about 3,200 individuals suspecting of harboring takfiri thinking. According to statement by a member of the counseling commission, 1,500 persons that went through the counseling program were released after the commission became convinced that they have renounced the ideas that had led to their arrest. In the recent period, Al-Qaeda has tried to create a kind of confusion related to the methods adopted by the Saudi authorities to combat deviant thinking by luring penitents back to the organization. Al-Qaeda has managed to lure back about 11 returnees from Guantanamo that had benefited from the programs run by Mohammed Bin-Naif. The names of these have appeared on a list that consists of 85 fugitives abroad. The Interior Ministry security spokesperson affirms that Al-Qaeda tried to harm the ideological rehabilitation programs by exploiting them in a very bad manner. He pointed that Al-Qaeda’s exploitation of the measures related to the voluntary surrender of the wanted was an attempt to reach the person that has exerted a lot of efforts to follow up the implementation of this program on the ground. He was referring to the failed attempt to assassinate Prince Mohammed Bin-Naif more than a week ago.