“Saudi Arabia, known for harsh criminal penalties such as beheadings, is trying a gentler approach to get information from some al-Qaida captives.” AP says that “Saudi interrogators often bring clerics and a Quran to their prison interviews to establish a religious connection, a technique that has proved successful in eliciting information from terrorist suspects and reorienting them to less violent religious beliefs. . . .
“Shortly after these al-Qaida prisoners are taken into custody, Saudi interrogators send in a cleric who appears to espouse militant Islamic views to help build a personal bond with the young men and open a dialogue based on Islam, the officials said.
“‘Once we connect with them, the interrogators slowly hand them over to a more moderate cleric, who sits with them and goes over what the Quran says and discusses what the traditions of the prophet are,’ one Saudi official explained.
“Over time, the clerics position the prisoners to repent and renounce their past allegiance to the network established by the Saudi-born fugitive bin Laden. Then traditional interrogators are brought in to question the prisoners and learn tactical information, officials said.
“‘We have learned that what drove them into this cult, and what causes them to cooperate, is religion,’ said one senior Saudi official involved in intelligence work.”
You don’t say. I’d like to know how this is done — that is, what they show these prisoners from the Qur’an and Sunna that changes their minds. For it is usually radical Muslims, not moderates, who are rigorous about sticking to what the Qur’an and Sunna say about jihad and everything else. In Onward Muslim Soldiers I detail how high-level Saudis (including a chief justice of Saudi Arabia) have taught that the Qur’an’s teachings on jihad are in three stages, with violence being the last one, abrogating the others. This is common teaching not just in Saudi Arabia, but all over the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda knows this well.
So how do the interrogators disabuse these imprisoned jihadists of such notions? If they are not doing so, then this story is a sham. If they are doing so, then maybe they have found the key that will destroy radical Islam. I rather think the former view is more likely, but I’d like to know more. (Thanks to Nissan Ratzlav-Katz.)