Plush swimming pools, sun-kissed patios and uniformed manservant awaiting every whims and fancies – this might seem like a dream life to many but for the violent jihadists in Saudi Arabia, it’s a reality that beckons them once they are caught by the establishment. In other words, it is a rehabilitation center, where Islamic extremists are kept to mend their ways. Renowned as Mohammed bin Nayef Counselling and Care Center, this rehab is located in the country’s capital city of Riyadh.
Regarded as a midway platform between prison and freedom, this rehabilitation center pinpoints at a controversial strategy of the Saudi Arabia government to tackle its home-grown terrorists, especially fighters from Al-Qaeda and Taliban.
At a time when the fight against terrorism is defined by drone-strikes and relentless war and tortures, Saudi Arabia seeks to “cure” the terrorists in a seemingly humane way as they believe extremism requires not coercion but an ideological cure.
This rehabilitation center is mainly run by clerics and psychologists, who try to prevent convicts from returning to jihad through what is termed as a thorough ideological cleansing and religious purification. According to the director of the rehab, Yahya Abu Maghayed:
Our focus is on correcting their thoughts, their misconceptions, their deviation from Islam.
All the convicts are kept in luxurious low-slung buildings, overlooking manicured lawns. All the rooms are equipped with large-screen televisions and king-sized beds.
In order to make them feel at home as well as just like any normal citizen, the convicts – who are mostly from deadly Al-Qaeda or the Taliban terror outfits – walk around freely in the center, wearing flowing white robes. All of them have access to state-of-art gymnasiums, a banquet hall and also furnished apartments reserved for visits from spouses.