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Week of 5.22.09

Rehab for Terrorists?

Should terrorists be treated with open arms and an open heart?

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Robert Lacey in Saudi Arabia
See photographs from the country Lacey explored for decades.

Rehab the Terrorists ...With Love
Read Lacey's personal essay on Saudi Arabia's "soft" policing policies.
This week NOW on PBS partners with best-selling author and journalist Robert Lacey to investigate the surprising success of Saudi Arabia's approach to dealing with terrorists and extremists - without torture or water-boarding. Given extraordinary access to the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry and its practices, Lacey visits terrorist rehabilitation camps that use "soft policing" tactics to be nice to the bad guys.

In the program we see the Saudis providing a private jumbo jet to bring inmates home from Guantanamo Bay, giving them a hero's welcome, then sending them to a converted holiday resort for re-education. Then, the men are set free.

Is this rehab program working, and can we trust the Saudis to protect themselves - and us - against Islamic extremism in the future? Watch this NOW on PBS report for a perspective on terrorism you've never seen before.

Related Links

The Weekly Q
"Inside the Kingdom": Official Website

Inside the Kingdom on Facebook

In the News

The Economist: The Arab League Summit

Foreign Policy: Fighting terrorism with psychotherapy

The New York Times: 1 in 7 Freed Detainees Rejoins Fight, Report Finds

The New York Times: Yemen Dispute Slows Closing of Guantanamo

U.S. News & World Report: Saudis Now Dis Bush and Put Their Hopes on Obama

Viewer Comments

Commenter: Babar Khan
"Saudi Arabia will ultimately fail because it is actually not sincere about eradicating extremism. The Saudi Regime and the Wahabi religious establishment are strategically entwined. The powerful Wahabi establishment gets to spread its destructive message around the globe and in return they give the Royal Family the political cover they need to legitimize them in front their subjects. Saudi Arabia is still teaching their school children extremism and hate to anything that is not purely Islamic. SA still flogs people in public, chops heads in public after Friday Prayer, the mosques preach hate and intolerance of non-Muslims, ect..ect..ect. Please read for your selves the sermons that are coming from the "Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina. Hundreds of Muslims read/hear/watch these sermons and receive guidance from them. So what the rehab center is trying to teach them is not to reject the idea of Jihad completely but rather the timing is not right because the King has not sanctioned it yet and here lies the Elephant In The Room"

Ever been to Saudi Arabia yourself? Don't assume stupid things like that until you have. I was brought up in Saudi Arabia, and what you said is pure unadulterated bull. I'm a Muslim, terrorism is AGAINST Islam. This is a biased show, the interpretations were completely accurate and the questions were silly in the first place, no open-endedness to them, just simple "yes" or "no" answers.
"Chops heads in public after Friday prayers". Care to show me where? and don't link me to the some video of a tiny village somewhere which no-one's heard of, there's extreme actions in every country, but you can't generalise an entire community by a VERY SMALL minority. That's like me assuming all Americans are inbred trailer-trash that aren't educated in any way. It's stupid, immoral, stereotypical and pathetic. "The Mosques preach hate and intolerance"? Wtf are you on? Care to tell me why I never learnt this at any mosque, or at any school I went to seeing as you say this is preached in schools as well? Your comment shows your mindlessness and immaturity, you need to open your mind up a bit and start acting your age, your views are like those of a small child who's been fed complete b.s from his parents since day 1. I pity you if anything. Islam does NOT mean terrorism. Get educated on a topic from reliable un-biased sources before you open your mouth about it, might save yourself a little humiliation next time.


Commenter: Yellowhorse
Now, you really screwed up on this one. You gave the impression that SA was serious about fighting terror but in realty they are NOT. Extremism is still preached, practiced, and lived in SA.


Commenter: Steve Y
Saudi Arabia will ultimately fail because it is actually not sincere about eradicating extremism. The Saudi Regime and the Wahabi religious establishment are strategically entwined. The powerful Wahabi establishment gets to spread its destructive message around the globe and in return they give the Royal Family the political cover they need to legitimize them in front their subjects. Saudi Arabia is still teaching their school children extremism and hate to anything that is not purely Islamic. SA still flogs people in public, chops heads in public after Friday Prayer, the mosques preach hate and intolerance of non-Muslims, ect..ect..ect. Please read for your selves the sermons that are coming from the "Two Holy Mosques" in Mecca and Medina. Hundreds of Muslims read/hear/watch these sermons and receive guidance from them. So what the rehab center is trying to teach them is not to reject the idea of Jihad completely but rather the timing is not right because the King has not sanctioned it yet and here lies the Elephant In The Room.


Commenter: MoeK.
What rehab are you talking about? The whole country is in need of rehab. I was born and raised in the Kingdom of Darkness Until I left at the age of 18 so I can breath.


Commenter: Ken H.
This show gets grade "F" from someone who thinks highly of Now.
1.Lacey doesn't speak the language and he doesn't know the hell he is talking about.
2.He is being fed Saudi Propaganda.
3.The Saudi Intelligence officer, the one with broken English lied to him about what the Jihadist said. The Jihadist did not say "Wage jihad to defend the country" But rather he said "Wage Jihad to spread the word of God and make it the highest". I speak Arabic.
4.Mr. Lacey, get yourself an independent trustworthy interpreter and NOT a Saudi Intelligence officer PLEASE.

If this is an introduction to your book, then I believe the book you're writing won't be worth the paper it'll be printed on.


Commenter: Larry Sampson
Hooray for "Now".


Commenter: Amy Du
It is amazing that Mr. Lacey seems not to be speak the language.


Commenter: Koksie
If we torture people, why should they then love us? Why, in our own self-righteousness, do we expect them not at least to seek to exact revenge upon us? We need to engage in some severe, albeit painful, introspection in the manner of Shakespeare's tragically misguided King Lear... and then, perhaps, we will achieve a modicum of redemption.


Commenter: David F.
To me, this show seemed more like an infomercial than an investigative report (I was ready to buy it, but there was no 1-800 number). I couldn't force myself to watch the entire show, but did it mention that there is proof that members of the House of Saud have been funneling money to terrorists? If not, was this a two part report and NOW was going to mention it next week?

Since ExxonMobile has spent $50 on green technology, maybe you'll let them buy a 24 minute slot so they can tell us how green they want us to believe they are.


Commenter: Coralie Farlee
1- They have not been tried; therefore, the label of "terrorist" is incorrect. Without a trial, they are not even a "criminal" because there's no evidence or conviction of a crime.
2- Yes, re-socialization is possible and done in many instances, and should be done more so in U.S. prisons. This is a basic proven scientific principal and finding in sociology -- based on Talcott Parsons. The process is also used in getting patients in mental health treatments to identify with a new significant other (i.e., person who gives rewards and punishments) who initially grants rewards for unacceptable behavior just to become the person to whom the "client" looks to for approval; then gradually reduces rewards for unacceptable behavior while initiating and enhancing rewards for acceptable behavior. This is called "resocialization" and is a proven strategy, although greatly "labor intensive." However, so was the process by which the person became an adherent to anti-social behavior -- in these cases through the one-on-one torture treatment.


Commenter: will wynne
Where is the outrage from the MSP (main stream press) and NOW over the continuous "illegal" development of West Bank settlements by the israelis? Why is there such seemingly geographically wide-spread suffering in the name of protection and security of a section of the planet slightly smaller than New Jersey and no one person or single defining act will do anything about it? It's not right. It's plainly on its face, NOT RIGHT and you know it, or you should know it.

w.wynne


Commenter: Jesse C Anderson
The thing's peoples in our country don;t know or understand, when you train a group of people's to kill and their idea also change then you have a problem


Commenter: D Woodall
I lived in KSA in the 90s and always cringe at western media depictions of life and politics in the Kingdom. This program by Now was a surprising exception; Robert Lacey's understanding of the nuances of Saudi attitudes and culture are something most of us in the west need to have more exposure to.

Kudos to both him and to Now for managing the phenomenal access to this story.


Commenter: ajca
You should remove the above "The New York Times: 1 in 7 Freed Detainees Rejoins Fight, Report Finds". Talking Points Memo has a story on this: http://snipurl.com/imwtq

(found this under your page: "Rehab For Terrorists?")

Thanks


Commenter: Paul
Amazing Neocon BS!!! The people released from Guantanamo were innocent of any crimes!!! They are not terrrorists!!! If they went on to then become actual terrorists it is because there were tortured for being Muslim. What an arrogant show this was. Also as others have stated Jihad has a broad meaning not understood in the "West".


Commenter: Shan Crockett
Mr. Lacey unfortunately interviews by putting words in the mouths of his subjects and forces them to say yes or no. How much better it would have been to conduct his interviews using open-ended questions. That would have allowed the possibility of learning something new as well as not artificially reinforcing his previously-held views. I came away from the program believing that I couldn't believe anything that was presented.


Commenter: Tom Murphy
There will be no overriding peace in this world until Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, returns to bring that peace. By the Grace of God, believers in Jesus Christ are called to non-violently lay down their life in the proclamation of Gospel - Christ's life, death, burial, and resurrection. Beyond this, we have no hope for peace or security.

I know, to non-Christians, this is pure folly in their ears.

Apart from the regenerative, heart-changing work of the Holy Spirit, there is no hope for "rehabing" terrorists.

We err greatly if we think that "behavior modification" will change the heart of released jihadis.

Our greatest offensivedefensive strategy for bringing peace, in the ways that we can as God allows, is to proclaim the name of Christ and his finished work on the cross.

Much to the dismay of secular journalists, fundamentalist Muslims are happy to discuss the life of Jesus, since they regard him as a prophet.

Lord willing, I am one that is headed towards the House of Saud as a Christian missionary to lay down my life for Christ.


Commenter: Patricia Kimball
What a disappointment! We had an interesting view of Yemen. But where was the information we were promised about the rehabilitation program? I swear I didn't fall askeep. I was wide awake waiting to hear what was promised.


Commenter: Bashir A. Syed
Dear David:
I am a Physicist and was thoroughly disgusted after watching Robert Lacey, who has very little knowledge of ISLAM and it tenets. The use of ord JIHAD and Terrorists was invented by the ISRAELIS in their own image, which Lacey used frequently to influence his readers and further prejudice their minds about Islam and Muslims. The only way to co-exist in tyhis world and live in PEACE is to know others and their beliefs. The war mongers like David FRUM who interdicted the word "Axis of EVIL," in Bush's speech have left no stone unturned to launch a war of propganda to defame ISLAM and MUSLIMS. This approach will never bring about PEACE in the world, and use of Military means to solve every conflict is going to be counter productive resulting more death and destruction in the world.

Bashir A. Syed
Retired Aerospace Physicist


Commenter: Rebecca
Find it disheartening that Lacey chooses to vilify a noble term jihad as something negative without providing any proof that the Saudis themselves view it that way. The fact that the word jihad has been used as a pejorative by the Western media does not make it so. I hope that Muslims will not allow this word, that means to struggle against your worse characteristics and to work to elevate yourself, to be used as a negative.

Rebecca


Commenter: jimi bernath
Thanks for promulgating the fear surrounding Al Qaeda and the Guantanamo "detainees." Al Qaeda is responsible for 9/11, no one is arguing that, but its membership is estimated at less than 500 individuals, which is the primary reason they are unable to mount another "lucky" attack as they did in 2001. The "detainees" have been demonized by the previous US administration and held on foreign soil to circumvent American law and ideals. If we are true to our law and our ideals, we try any "detainees" who can be charged with prosecutable crimes, and let the rest go. Indefinite preventative incarceration is not an American value, nor is preemptive war. If some of those released are welcomed in their home countries as heroes or victims, so be it. If some of them rededicate themselves to jihad, so be it. The American penal system does not deny recidivism or stir up hysteria over released convicts.


Commenter: Scott YB, Iowa
At core, religion is about change. Otherwise, who shall sin and be rehabilitated? Jihadism is just another form or method of exerting someone else' will upon another. I think jihadism is akin to the 20th century's Communism and Socialism, where men are following an ideal which seeks to dominate a certain segment of a population. Certainly world domination is one of the cues of these factions. Religion is not about domination but of change, the changing of men and women from earthly to heavenly ideals. That the message should be preached is a given if such religion is true, but not at the expense of people's agency or freedom to choose. Preaching comes from the word of God and not from the barrel of a gun.

WEB FEATURES
Rehab for Terrorists?

Slideshow: Robert Lacey in Saudi Arabia

Personal Essay: Robert Lacey on Soft Policing


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