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"Jihadi rehab" terrorists rearrested in Saudi Arabia

January 26, 2009

'Betty Ford' Islamic militants arrested in Saudi Arabia

Al-Wahaishi, al-Shihri and al-Raimi

color-999">(Jihadist Website/Handout/EPA)

color-666">Nasser al-Wahaishi, his alleged deputy Said Ali al-Shihri, and the group's alleged field commander Qassim al-Raimi, all senior members of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch

Michael Evans, Defence Editor div#related-article-links p a, div#related-article-links p a:visited { color:#06c; }

Nine Saudi Islamic militants, including former Guantanamo inmates, have been rearrested in the Kingdom despite completing a controversial rehabilitation programme.

The arrests follow the embarrassing revelation last week that another Saudi Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released to the authorities in 2007 has emerged as the deputy leader of al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch of the terrorist organisation.

Both incidents are a serious setback for the experimental regime in which Saudi terror suspects are "weaned off" Islamic militancy at the so-called "Betty Ford clinic" for jihadists.

The rearrest of nine Saudi militants has also underlined the dilemma now facing governments with nationals still being detained in Guantanamo Bay, following President Obama's decision to close the camp. He has called on other countries to take detainees to help clear out the controversial prison.

European foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels today to discuss ways of responding to the US President's request.

Jean Asselborn, the Foreign Minister of Luzembourg, said: "The EU is not politically responsible for Guantanamo, it was an American decision and they have to take responsibility, but the EU must help people who were jailed, from a humanitarian point of view."

At the Saudi rehabilitation centre, inmates selected for reform have access to a swimming pool, table tennis and PlayStations. They even play football with their guards.

During the programme, the militants have to attend lessons based on Islamic law which shuns the use of violence. A team of psychologists instruct them how to manage their emotions when seeing images on television of Muslims suffering in war situations.

The Saudi authorities claimed that none of the militants who had been sent to the centre on the outskirts of Riyadh had returned to terrorism.

The Pentagon claims that dozens of released Guantanamo detainees have "returned to the fight".

Said Ali al-Shihri was suspected of being involved in the bombing of the US Embassy in Sana, Yemen's capital, in September last year. He had also been through the Saudi rehabilitation programme.

He and another Saudi national with al-Qaeda links had travelled to Yemen after completing the programme. Both men have appeared on a jihadist website.

On the video, al-Shihri is seen sitting with three other men before a flag for al-Qaeda in Iraq. "By Allah, imprisonment only increased our persistence in our principles for which we went out, did jihad for, and were imprisoned for," al-Shihri said.

Saudi Arabia has also built five jails, each housing 1,200 jihadist prisoners, who are given religious instruction. But the prisons hold senior al-Qaeda leaders and they have to endure maximum security conditions.

Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, was born in Saudi Arabia although he was later stripped of his nationality. Fifteen of the 19 plotters of the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001 were Saudis.

This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at