Care Rehabilitation Center

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The Care Rehabilitation Center is a facility in Saudi Arabia intended to re-integrate former jihadists into the mainstream of Saudi culture.[1] [2] [3] The center is located in a former resort complex, complete with swimming pools, and other recreational facilities.[4] [5]

The Mohammed bin Nayef Counseling and Care Center is based in Riyadh. 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 2007 after a series of terrorist attacks including bombings and kidnapping.[6]

Program goals

Suspected terrorists currently enrolled in the program have either been caught by the Saudi security forces, surrendered themselves or are Guantanamo detainees.[6][7] In June 2017, Mohammed bin Salman took over the leadership of the program. Detainees spend up to 6 months at the center, however if there are no clear signs of reform after 3 months, they are sent back to prison and answer to the judicial system. Guantanamo detainees undergo a specific program that lasts around 18 months due to the psychological trauma they experienced and the fact that they may represent a security threat.[6][8]

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.

Rehabilitation program

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).

Program results

As of 2017, the program claimed to have treated over 3,300 men convicted of terrorism-related crimes with a 86% success rate. This success rate is measured by the number of men who did not return to jihad for at least 10 years after graduating from the center’s program.[7]

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.[9] [10][11] [12] [13] [14]

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown toured the facility on November 2, 2008, and spoke with several former Guantananmo captives.[15] [16] [17] Brown is reported to have spoken with Ghanim Abdul Rahman Al Harbi and Juma al Dossari.

The Saudis had claimed 100% success rate until 2009. 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.[18]

On February 4, 2009, the Associated Press reported that Saudi authorities had listed eleven former Guantanamo captives who attended the Rehabilitation Center on a list of 85 most wanted terrorist suspects.[19]

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. 11 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.[20]

Known issues

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. Some of these captives arrived before the rehabilitation center was opened.[21]

In January 2009, two former Guantanamo captives released a threatening video online.[22] Following the release of the video Saudi authorities took nine other former captives back into custody.[23] The names of the nine re-apprehended men have not been made public.

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.[24] [25] [26] Some security officials were injured, but the prince escaped serious injury, and Al-Asiri was the only fatality.

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.[27][28]


  1. ^ Bobby Ghosh (2009-01-27). "Can Jihadis Be Rehabilitated?". Time magazine. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  2. ^ Andrew O. Selsky (2009-01-27). "U.S. Defends Transfers as Ex-Detainees Vow Terror". Washington Post. p. A08. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  3. ^ Worth, Robert F. (2009-01-22). "Freed by U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-23.
  4. ^ Nancy Durham (2009-01-28). "Attempting to rehabilitate Riyadh's jihadists". CBC News. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  5. ^ Nancy Durham (2008-01-14). "Can therapy 'cure' terrorism?". CBC News. Retrieved 2009-02-08.
  6. ^ a b c Jack Moore (29 November 2017). "Five-star Jihad: Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters receive luxury treatment in Saudi Arabia". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b Anuj Chopra (29 November 2017). "Jihadists go to rehab at '5-star' Saudi center". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  8. ^ Molly O'Toole (28 November 2017). "Saudi Arabia is freeing a new batch of former Gitmo detainees". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  9. ^ 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."
  10. ^ Sonia Verma (2008-09-11). "Terrorists 'cured' with cash, cars and counselling". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 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.
  11. ^ 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."
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Brown meets ex-Guantanamo detainees in Saudi". Agence France Presse. 2008-11-02. Archived from the original on 2008-11-02. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  16. ^ Rosa Prince (2008-11-02). "Gordon Brown shakes hands with Muslim extremists during Saudi visit". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  17. ^ Kirsty Walker (2008-11-02). "Gordon Brown shakes hands with former Al Qaeda terrorists during visit to Saudi Arabian 'correction' centre". London: Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 2008-11-02. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
  18. ^ "Former Gitmo detainee warns against men of deviant thought". The Saudi Gazette. 2009-09-01. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. 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.
  19. ^ Paul Schemm (2009-02-04). "11 former Gitmo inmates on Saudi wanted list". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2009-02-08. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  20. ^ "Rehabilitation and Deradicalization: Saudi Arabia’s Counterterrorism Successes and Failures" by Rob L. Wagner, University for Peace: Peace and Conflict Monitor, July 31, 2010
  21. ^ Peter Taylor (2010-01-13). "Yemen al-Qaeda link to Guantanamo Bay prison". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2010-01-15.
  22. ^ "Two ex-Guantanamo inmates appear in Al-Qaeda video". Agence France Presse. 2009-01-25. Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  23. ^ M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan (2009-01-27). "Kingdom re-arrests ex-Gitmo inmates". Arab News. Archived from the original on 2009-02-11. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  24. ^ "Wanted Terrorist Carries Out Suicide Operation in front of Saudi Prince Mohammed Bin Naif". Arab News. 2009-08-28. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01.
  25. ^ "Al-Qaeda claims responsibility of attack on Prince Nayef". Easenews. August 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01.
  26. ^ Hammond, Andrew (2009-08-30). "Saudi prince defends policy on militants". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01.
  27. ^ Paul Sperry (28 November 2016). "Gitmo prisoner reveals that Saudi 'terrorist rehab' center is a scam". Retrieved 4 February 2018.
  28. ^ Samuel Osborne (1 December 2016). "Saudi Arabia's terrorist rehab actually 'secret radicalisation programme,' Guantanamo prisoner claims". Retrieved 4 February 2018.

External links

  • 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.
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