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July 12th, 2011
From Jihad to Rehab


Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the attacks of September 11, 2001 were from Saudi Arabia. In the aftermath of the attacks, the Saudi government aggressively pursued domestic terrorists, dismantling Al Qaeda cells and rounding up thousands of people for questioning. But after the bombings on its own soil in Riyadh in 2003, the Saudi government adopted a softer approach to counterterrorism – therapy. This new method aims to counter the fanatical ideology of detainees. Islamic religious scholars and leaders challenge the detainee’s violent interpretation of the Koran and highlight peaceful and charitable aspects of Islam. Egypt, Singapore, Indonesia, and the United States in Iraq are among the countries implementing similar programs.


In From Jihad to Rehab, Canadian journalist Nancy Durham takes us inside a rehabilitation center in Saudi Arabia, where art therapy and religious re-education are being used to reform militant jihadists, like Ahmed al-Shaya, who went to Iraq on a suicide mission in 2004 where he killed 12 people but survived himself. We meet Juma Al-Dossary who has just returned to Saudi Arabia after spending six years in Guantanamo, and speak with Dr. Awad Alymai, the detainees’ art therapist, about his patients’ transformation.

  • Dellma Hansen

    Any effort to teach anyone in any religion to not kill is a step forward in any religion. History is tainted in blood, with such motivation for killing from all different religions. Yet, today there is of course the most extreme of religious motivated killings in the Middle East.
    It is not amazing to finally see progress. (It’s after horror upon horror.)
    It is not amazing to try different techniques. (The USA approach doesn’t win a heart or mind when it’s main tool is a gun).
    But what is truely progress is that the country which before was ok to teach and even support such violent views of their own religion are now teaching a better view.
    And it seems to not just be teaching a better view about muslims and islam–it’s not just a simple teaching like any other country when it’s comming from the same country that has the most important sites to Muslims in that country.
    It’s also much more than just teaching a more loving view on islam when they stepped away from a direction of hate that was not just showing hate but actually promoting hate.
    And now, Saudi Arabia is showing by example how a feeling of hate can be more than just stopped, because it is actually being replaced with a more loving doctrinal view that is even comming from the same writtings.
    And of course, Saudi Arabia will be important no matter if they want to choose hate or choose love as their religious interpretation.
    They were important with hate.
    They will always be important to muslims in their religion.
    They will always be important to the world who might not look toward their religion but yet see, just as anyone with eyes on reality, the needed supply of oil that they supply the world.
    Yet, they have not just become more important to world peace by also promoting love instead of hate. But it just might be love at the most important time in history when technology has given hate a big booooom ability and when hate has seemed to make the largest money financed military get frusterated when trying to be soft on the use of guns. I think the world knows a simple guns is about the softest weapon of choice by any modern military.
    Hate today by any military or any religion or any wide grabbing group has never been so easily distructive.
    And sadly, religion is possibly the hardest ‘hate direction’ to change course from hate to love.
    It’s typically remarkable to just slightly change a deep hearted hate into a direction of forgiving the past.
    Yet Saudi Arabia has done much more than deal with the past as they now promote a present day religious view of love and it just might affect the future in huge ways.
    And yes, it is maybe too late for many many muslims and sadly even many counter type religions who motivate out of religion to fight those muslims.
    Yet, even if too late for many of them…love is never too late.
    And it just happens to be comming from the most influencial country that could influence muslims on this issue.
    Many countries could make the world a much more loving place if their own countries would walk the same distance away from hate that Saudi Arabia is doing today.
    Saudi Arabia is the most influencial for their own culture and inside their own religion.
    Yet I hope such steps away from hate become more common in the G8 type countries which seem to always seek enemies in order to have their politics function under their own likeing in their own countries and cultures.
    Hate yes does create a space for action.
    Yet, love also creates a space for action.
    And since technology has obviously improved what hate can accomplish–I think it’s about time we get smart and choose love instead of hate.
    Isn’t every human today smart enough to see that simple reality no matter their own religion?
    I hope so.
    I hope many countries will get people in government that see a simple desire for love, when the purchase price of hate is so accessable today.
    Fact is, that Saudi Ariabia is loaded with cash and could easily purchase that price of hate with easy money and there is a world full of buyers that sell hate with such easy money.
    Thankyou all that much more Saudi Arabia for choosing love instead, even when you have such an easy ability to choose hate with money or religion or…what ever other reasons many countries choose hate when it’s so easy to choose hate instead of love.
    But even more appreciative of Saudi Arabia, is a big thankyou for actually becomming an influence for love when almost every direction on the map around you is probably the most hateful they have ever been to themselves and yes easily been to the world.
    The world will also need to improve and forgive on their hate toward muslims in the world, and of course they will hopefully improve their views toward Saudi Arabia.
    Yet, I find hope, that if Saudi Arabia was able to see only hate around them and still turn away from it instead of becoming more hateful as so many have in the Middle East, then they will hopefully also not need the worlds’ acceptance either to show love to the world. (I honestly wonder if the world will ever accept other countries as friends on the basis of being friends is better than enemies).
    I also think from this effort of Saudi Arabia that is so important to it’s religion, then it will hopefully be the simple start of love in the Middle East. If a love comes from Saudi Arabia, then it came from the most important country for those showing hate in the same religion and also it came from the most important country to the world on the basis of oil and it’s huge money ability that will always have it’s money ability on energy while the future will also make new markets with educated Saudi’s of the future.
    Love is such a simple idea.
    Yet becoming educated on love and actually being a force of love is literally world saving at a time it can so easily be destroyed in today’s modern use of hate.
    Literally, no other country could have probably been more world saving than what Saudi Arabia will do in love if they can truely accomplish their influence of love within their own religion. And that affect inside that religion will effect huge amounts of the globe.
    (And hopefully my own country will actually not seek enemies and repeat for a 3rd time a Bush in Iraq that pisses them off and makes these past 8 years horrible for them and for us and for now the world since the world also needs the USA, just as the USA can’t do anything it wants without a care for the world).
    These past 8 years of yet another Bush, we were stupid to thinking a gun will convince a person to be peaceful when the president as an oil-bussiness-man is hopeing to invade the same oil rich country that his father just happened to mess up before him. Yet with careful twistingm, we Americans think the second Bush is actually all the more better prepared with oil business sense and an improvment on a war with common sense and finally that he could actaully win a peaceful ending to a failed war from before, instead of just giving it all back and calling that victory.
    (Yet, sadly the former way of victory by handing it all back to a looser is actually better than loosing it to a winner who is the most bloody in using the laws of the jungle).
    (Ya, we Americans goofed to elect Bush and now a mess that is seeming to make the dad’s mistakes in telling the military how to end a war seem all the more small in ending this huge war effort).
    But the success of Saudi Arabia will not be like the success of an American military that leaves hate in it’s path of destruction after ending a war. But, instead the end to this war because of Saudi Arabia will be a love that no outside military force could ever come close to achieving. And the lasting ability of love that comes from a root level of religion will of course out do any war treaty between combating Americans and combating muslims.
    There is a huge ability that Saudi Arabia has and since it’s an ability that every country in the world would love to have for themselves on religion or oil or amazingly both–then I’m all that much more greatful for Saudi Arabia to choose a view of love instead of hate.
    That kind of love might not have the force of an atomic bomb that hate does have, yet it’s a love that is so so so needed in the world when that kind of hate is so easy to purchase in the world today.
    Thankyou Saudi Arabia for your influence to promote love and not hate.
    (Fact is, you are in the possition of being the best to promote hate or love to muslims and it’s all the more commendable of you to promote love when the world is already overwelmingly powerful in it’s ability to show hate).

  • Finola Kennedy

    It is very heartening to see the positive response to creative oppportunities provided to men with damaged histories. There is a valuable lesson to be learned by all of us.

  • John Shafer

    OK. We all agree hate is bad. But what about defending everything that makes your life worth while against a demonstrably evil and rapacious Imperial super-power?

  • Michael Kazmi

    Do you seriously think that people who are indoctrinated can change because they took up an art class. Are you really serious. You have to change the minds of the children. These people have hardened beliefs and ideas. You think they will start thinking differently about the interests of the West just because they are able to draw. This is PR for the Saudi Government.

  • Atto Richardson

    every body love peace and good things but we should no that when it is done in other to clam something from someone innocently, people do not see that but when the preson give the reaction of it we say it is bad.

  • Dana Hartman

    YES I do believe Art can change the heart, the person and the world. It has been influencing the world (universe) since the beginning of time. I would love to see this art and article published and used to educate the world that love and positive energy can change hatred into love for his fellow man and the world can live in peace. I am a flight crew member and go to work each day wherein there is risk of an incident. After 35 years you can feel the energy from the passengers. The nervousness, the fear and the hatred. We live in a world where we are terrified of the person sitting next to us, yet with respect and a few words of kindness from just one person you can change the negative energy.

    Please read Dr. Dyer’s book The Power of Intention. Chapter – Your impact on Others When Connected to Intention. “One individual who lives and vibrates to the energy of optimism and a willingness to be nonjudgmental of others will counterbalance the negativity of 90,000…”

    The program can work. I believe it may be similar to the NAA Program currently working in our country. Someone very close to me was returned to life with this program. I have felt pain but nothing compared to the pain experienced by an addict or tormented child. If this program helps but one person and that one person can counterbalance 90,000, we can change the world.

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