An al Qaeda operative told a parole board at Guantanamo Bay that a Saudi reform program for terrorists is actually a front for recruiting jihadists, according to declassified documents.
Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi said the program at the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, which was thought to have played a key role in Saudi Arabia’s counter-terrorism strategy, is not what it appears to be.
Dozens of Guantanamo detainees, including Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, have been sent through to the program as a condition of their release as President Obama hopes to close the prison before he leaves office.
The center, which includes activities like swimming, ping-pong, and art therapy, has been compared to a holiday resort, and those who complete the 12-step program are rewarded with young brides and new cars, the New York Post reported.
According to the Post, 134 Saudi detainees have been sent to the rehab centers in Riyadh and Jeddah.
The facilities are meant to help former jihadists integrate into society, with psychologists on hand to determine problematic social factors while religious officials are there to clarify ideologies, the New York Times reported.
Those who are sent to the center also have access to a PlayStation, gourmet meals, and private apartments for conjugal visits, the Post reported.
But Al-Sharbi told the parole board: ‘You guys want to send me back to Saudi Arabia because you believe there is a de-radicalization program on the surface, true.
‘You are 100 per cent right, there is a strong…de-radicalization program, but make no mistake, underneath there is a hidden radicalization program.’
Al-Sharbi, who faced the Periodic Review Board after 14 years, said he did not want to enroll in the 12-step rehab program fearing he would be ‘used’ to ‘fight under the Saudi royal cloak.’
He said: ‘When they release you they wanna make sure that you’re still under that cloak and they got you to fight their jihad in their regions and in the States.’
He added: ‘They will proudly tell you they will fight terrorism. That means they will support it.’
He also added that fighters are being recruited and trained to face off against Iranians in Yemen and Syria.
Earlier this year, the Periodic Review Board, created under Obama’s administration in 2011, agreed to release Muhammed Al Shumrani after his lawyers argued that enrolling him in the rehab program would help.
About 20 per cent of those who enroll in the rehab program return to terrorism, the Post reported.
Source: Daily Mail