As part of a broader approach to counter-terrorism, Saudi Arabia has implemented an innovative and successful rehabilitation program for extremists. Working on the premise that a hateful ideology can only be countered with a more peaceful one, the rehabilitation program aims to show extremists that their world view is not conducive to a positive society.
Saudi leaders responsible for administering the rehabilitation recognize that the young people who are most likely to be recruited by extremist groups need to have alternative options to a life of violence. Speaking to CBC radio, Christopher Boucek explains what lessons other countries can learn from the Saudi experience, criticisms of the program, and how complementary 'hard' counterterrorism measures have helped make the initiative a success.
Of the 3000 participants in the programme, almost half have successfully graduated, and only 45 have been rearrested. Boucek awknowledged that while this is a very high success rate, it is likely to fall as the programme expands. Similar strategies to combat extermism have been adopted around the world, including in Scandanavia to combat neo-nazism.