Riyadh, the stronghold of Wahhabism and Saudi Islamic conservatism, is also home to a luxury rehab center for jihadists. A paradoxical combination, considering the position of Saudi Arabia on the playing field of the Middle East: both as an ally of the West (first and foremost of the U.S.) and also as the chief ideological patron of Islamist culture.
The Mohammed Bin Nayef Counseling and Care Center is a facility for the de-radicalization and rehabilitation of terrorists. An indoor swimming pool, sun terraces and spaces for practicing various sports are just some of the amenities provided by the complex. The center is a halfway house between prison and release, whose stated goal is ideological therapy rather than coercion. The clerics and psychologists heading the facility are focusing on the rehabilitation of the jihadists, so that they would not again fall for the “seductive” trap of extremist propaganda.
Since it opened in 2003, the center has hosted more than 3,300 people, including some former Guantanamo detainees. According to one of its directors, Yahya Abu Maghayed, who was interviewed by Agence France Press, the course of rehabilitation has a success rate of 86 percent. Former Taliban or members of al-Qaeda follow tailor-made courses of psychological therapy, focusing on reflection, the study of sacred texts and the strengthening of family ties, including the promotion of marriage and having children.