Saudi Arabia's terrorist rehab actually 'secret radicalisation programme,' Guantanamo prisoner claims

'This is in a cause of a king. This is not a true jihad'

Samuel Osborne
Thursday 01 December 2016 13:11
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Accused al-Qaeda bomb-maker Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi is one of 61 terror suspects still being held in Guantanamo Bay
Accused al-Qaeda bomb-maker Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi is one of 61 terror suspects still being held in Guantanamo Bay

Saudi Arabia's terrorist rehabilitation centre is actually a "hidden radicalisation programme," an accused al-Qaeda bomb-maker detained at Guantanamo Bay has claimed.

Saudi prisoner Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi told a Gitmo parole board: “You guys want to send me back to Saudi Arabia because you believe there is a de-radicalisation programme on the surface, true.

"You are 100 per cent right, there is a strong de-radicalisation programme, but make no mistake, underneath there is a hidden radicalisation programme."

Al-Sharbi made the comments to the Periodic Review Board, which assesses whether Guantanamo prisoners can be released, in June, according to recently declassified documents.

The Prince Mohammed Bin Naif Counselling and Care Centre in Riyadh aims to de-radicalise jihadists through a 12-step programme, which is said to help them reintegrate with society.

Activities include art therapy and sports, and detainees have access to psychologists and religious scholars who teach religion with a focus on rejecting violence, the Wall Street Journal reports.

However, al-Sharbi has claimed the centre is actually a front to train jihadists to "fight under their cloak - under the royal Saudi cloak, under the religious establishment cloak".

He added: "They want it all like whenever they choose the time, they choose the location, and as a Muslim I see that no, this is not in the cuase of Allah.

"This is in a cause of a king. This is not a true jihad."

They'll tell you 'okay, go fight in Yemen. Go fight in Syria,' and I will have no choice' al-Sharbi says

Later, he claims: "They [Saudi Arabia] are poking their nose here and here and there and they're recruiting more jihadists.

"They'll tell you 'okay, go fight in Yemen. Go fight in Syria,' and I will have no choice."

Al-Sharbi is one of 61 terror suspects still being held in Guantanamo Bay.

During the conversation, al-Sharbi appears to be struggling with illness. He tells the board he had just come from the detainee hospital, is "really exhausted, and nauseous and lethargic," and uses what is described as a "manual breathing device".

He also claimed an unnamed member of the Saudi royal family was part of an effort to recruit him for extremist acts before the September 11 attacks.

He said a religious figure in Saudi Arabia used the term "your highness" during a telephone conversation with a man, just before urging al-Sharbi to return to the US and take part in a plot against the US that would involve learning to fly a plane.

The September 11 commission found there was no evidence to indicate the Saudi government as an institution or Saudi senior officials individually had supported the attacks, and the kingdom's government has consistently denied it had any role in the plot.

In July, the review board declined to approve al-Sharbi's release from Guantanamo.

The Independent has contacted the Saudi embassy in London for comment.

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