In Yemen they confront selected jihadists with a panel of Muslim clerics who seek to convince the prisoners of the error of their ways.
The idea that this program in Yemen is a real solution to the problem is undermined by the final few paragraphs, which I will present below. It reminds me of the program I used to work for that sought to ‘rehabilitate’ young criminals by taking them out of jail for 30 days backpacking in the wilderness. Typically their involvement in the program was arranged between them, their legal guardian, their parole officer and a judge. If they got through the program and left with a report of good behavior, it could mean the difference between being released from jail at the age of 18 or being shipped off to an adult prison – so the stakes for the participants were pretty high.
At best all we did was teach them how to better work ‘The System’ to their advantage and helped them buy some time until they could get out from under government supervision and get back to doing crime. Studies comparing recidivism rates of program participants with those of the general population of juvenile criminals showed a slight decrease in the severity of the felonies that program participants went on to commit after their time in the woods. This is because by the time they had fallen into the grasp of the criminal system it was already too late to “intervene” with them or “rehabilitate” them.
So if the governments of Arab/Muslim countries are going to engage in such (re)education programs, the target of such education needs to be the larger Arab/Muslim population, especially the young, and *before* they sign on with the global jihad. Because once they come to identify themselves with the jihad, it’s too late. You can fight them, defeat them, contain them, do whatever it is you have to do to defend yourself, your society and your civilization from them. Eventually those who live long enough will start to lose energy and get enmeshed in simply living a life. Radicalism is generally an activity of young, and for good reason.
As a way of driving a wedge between the jihadis and the larger Muslim community such educational efforts might just work, assuming the clerics can actually make a solid case against jihadist violence. This leads us to the responsibility that the larger Muslim community has: not to issue statements condemning the latest jihadist atrocity – statements that are directed at the non-Muslim world – but to address and combat jihadist ideology from within Islam and to ensure that Muslims have the knowledge they need to combat attempts to spread jihadist ideology within their community. From the outside, we can’t do that. All we can do is assume a defensive posture, and maintain that posture until the Muslims themselves either put out the fires, or are consumed by them.
Please read it all.