JAKARTA // Imagine, for a moment, a possible headline in the future: "Osama bin Laden denounces terrorism and renounces jihad."
What are the odds? Is it even possible to wean an extremist like bin Laden off his violent ideology? The likelihood is hard to envisage.But a regimen of video games, fingerpainting and Snickers bars does?
But the Obama administration is keen to attempt something very close to that. This week, it agreed to give US$11 million (Dh40m) to Yemen to build a militant rehabilitation centre in the Arab state within the next three months for released Guantanamo Bay detainees.
The centre would treat terrorists in much the same way as drug addicts: seeing Islamic radicalism as an anomalous behavioural pattern and treating it with a mix of psychotherapy, counselling and religious re-education, coupled with economic incentives to slowly steer them back into society.
This move, analysts say, underscores the realisation that punitive detention or torture in a dank prison does not necessarily reform extremists...
Oh, and don't forget the hugs. If you want to "rehabilitate" a holy warrior hellbent on hooking up with a heavenly harem, he's going to need lots of hugs.
Update: Maybe they'll get to try out some rehab on these guys. (We tried to make 'em go to rehab/They said: "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.")