GAO: GAO Visit to a Saudi Government Operated Rehabilitation Center

GAO visit to a Saudi Government Operated Rehabilitation Center In March 2009, GAO staff visited an aftercare center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At this center, the Saudi government operates rehabilitation programs to reeducate terrorism suspects and detainees in order to reintegrate them into society. GAO officials visited a Saudi center for rehabilitation of those arrested or detained for supporting terrorism or extremism. During the visit, GAO officials asked several questions about the center’s operations, including the criteria for release of program participants. In January 2009, two former participants at the center had appeared in an Al Qaeda recruiting video filmed in Yemen. Saudi officials acknowledged that such cases illustrate the difficulty of assessing who to release from the center and when these individuals should be released. They also told us they are working to refine their assessment criteria. GAO officials met some program participants and their family members. Saudi officials told us that family members can visit the center and participants are occasionally allowed to leave the center for events such as weddings and funerals. The family network is considered important to the program’s success, including in monitoring the participant’s behavior after release. According to U.S. officials, the Saudi rehabilitation programs have shown some positive results and demonstrate the Saudi government’s commitment to undermining extremist ideology. Video courtesy of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

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