The battle to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison faces new challenges with an incoming Trump administration that is hard on national security and advocates the use of torture. But information brought to light from recently declassified documents at Guantanamo reveal alleged terrorist recruiting activities in Saudi Arabia.
“You guys want to send me back to Saudi Arabia because you believe there is a de-radicalization program on the surface, true,” Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi, an al-Qaida operative, told the prison’s parole board, notes the Daily Mail. “You are 100 percent right, there is a strong ... de-radicalization program, but make no mistake, underneath there is a hidden radicalization program.”
According to the New York Post, 134 Saudi prisoners, nine Yemeni prisoners, and several more in the coming months, have been sent to the Prince Mohammed bin Naif Counseling and Care Center, which has locations in the Saudi cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, as a way for the Obama administration to transfer prisoners out of Guantanamo in attempt to close the detention center.
But these “rehab” centers, along with five other prison facilities around Saudi Arabia, may be re-radicalizing jihadists.
“Here, we treat ideological sickness,” said Nassar al-Ajmi, a psychologist with the Riyadh rehab facility, reports The New York Times. “Just like when a child gets sick and gets better, the sickness can come back later.”
Al-Ajmi also stated that the reform program attempts to teach the inmates “correct Shariah thought.” Shariah law being the religious law derived from the Quran and Hadith.
Saudi Arabia, most of whose residents adhere to the Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, views Iran, a Shiite majority country, as an enemy.
According to al-Sharbi, the rehab facility in Riyadh is actively recruiting and indoctrinating jihadists to help fight Iranian influence throughout the region, reports the New York Post.
“They’re launching more wars and the [United] States is backing off from the region,” al-Sharbi said. “They’re poking their nose here and here and there and they’re recruiting more jihadists, and they’ll tell you, ‘OK, go fight in Yemen. Go fight in Syria.’”
But with President-elect Donald Trump set to take office in January, the future of Guantanamo Bay, and the 60 detainees still there, remains to be seen.