RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia is reforming extremists and wannabe jihadis by showering them with attention, providing therapy and offering art classes.
Painting sessions at the Mohammad Bin Nayef Center for Advice, Counseling and Care are revelatory. A piece by one patient — referred to as a "beneficiary" — shows green trees and a bright blue lake at the foot of a jagged mountain.
The bucolic-seeming scene is of the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden and his fighters eluded capture by American special forces months after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
"This guy has been to Tora Bora," art therapist Awad al-Yami told NBC News. His patient's time in the network of mountain caves on the border with Pakistan were full of danger, deprivation and fear, according to al-Yami.
"It is their suffering that they are bringing out, and the art is giving them a chance to express their suffering and feelings," the therapist said.
Al-Yami's patients are part of a de-radicalization program aimed at integrating Saudi citizens who have tried to join the ranks of ISIS and al Qaeda.
Clerics, psychologists, sociologists, art therapists, sports instructors and teachers work to incorporate the so-called beneficiaries' families and former employers into the process of reintegrating the men into mainstream society.While the center only works with those who haven't been convicted of a violent crime, the experts who work there take their charges and their ideology very seriously.
"This is a dangerous place, said sociologist Ahmed al-Shehri, noting that all 50 clients have an "extremist" background. "But we invest in them," he added.
A watercolor by a recent Guantanamo Bay inmate shows orange telephone poles perched on a cliff. Set against a gray background, it exudes depression and desperation.
I hear that after projecting their dark days in Gitmo and Tora Bora via tempera paint, they all get mugs of hot chocolate (the kind with the little marshmallows in it) and then it's nap time until their parents come to pick them up."[The painter] was projecting his dark days in Guantanamo Bay," al-Yami said. "They are still projecting their past, and that's our job to take them out of their past little by little."...
Just kidding. I'm curious to know if they're keeping stats on the number of hardened jihadis who are "cured" by this Nursery school treatment and how many return to a life of jihad once their "rehab" is through.
|Examples of art work at the Riyadh "rehab"?|